How to Use Whole Spices vs. Powdered Spices

How to Use Whole Spices vs. Powdered Spices

At Indigo Herbs we have a variety of spices in their whole and powdered forms and wanted to provide some ideas on how one might use them. 

The whole spices we carry include cardamom pods, celery seeds, fennel seed (available as loose herbal tea, but can still be used as a spice in cooking!) and juniper berries. Powdered spices include black pepper powder, celery seed powder, cinnamon powder, clove powder, fenugreek seed powder, garlic flakes, garlic powder, ginger powder, and turmeric powder. 

Powdered spices are versatile in that they can be added during or after cooking and will impart a nice flavour either way. Alternatively, dried herbs impart the most flavour after they’ve been heated and cooked for a while (How to Use Dried Herbs guide coming soon). Therefore, it’s best to add them at the beginning of cooking a dish. Ideally whole spices should be tempered in oil or water before adding them to your cooking in order to impart the maximum amount of flavour. In Indian cooking tempering spices in ghee or oil is called “tadka” or “tarka.” Keep your eyes peeled, we’ll be sharing how to “tadka” later this month with a great recipe. 

Below are some delicious suggestions of how to use the spices we carry. 


Black Pepper Powder

Black pepper powder is a very common spice which can be added to just about anything. Because of its piperine content, adding it to food or drinks when you use turmeric powder will help you absorb the benefits of the turmeric even more.

Suggested: Benefits of Black PepperBlack Pepper ProductsTurmeric & Black Pepper Golden Milk Recipe

Cardamom Pods

Crush cardamom pods with the back of a spoon to release the spice and flavour within. Add to boiling water next time you’re making a cuppa or throw them in at the beginning when you’re cooking your next curry dish.

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Celery Seeds

Celery seeds are bitter and warming, with a strong celery flavour. As you would use celery stalks, add celery seeds to soups, sauces and stews. They are also delicious when added to dressings for salads and marinades.

Suggested: Benefits of Celery SeedCelery Seed Products

Celery Seed Powder 

Celery seed powder can be more bitter than its whole counterpart and should be used sparingly until you discover your preference for their flavour. As with the seeds, experiment with adding the powder to soups, sauces, stews, dressings and marinades alike!  

Suggested: Benefits of Celery SeedCelery Seed Products 

Cinnamon Powder

We are all familiar with cinnamon and its sweet, warming flavour. Adding this spice to porridge, baked goods, pancakes, hot chocolate and tea elevates them. Cinnamon will do the same for savoury dishes as well. Next time you’re making a tomato-based sauce, add a bit of cinnamon and see how it transforms. Cinnamon also adds another level of depth to the flavour of Indian-inspired curries.

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Cloves Powder 

Cloves are warming and sweet and at the same time have a strong, pungent flavour. They can be astringent, leaving a tingling sensation in the mouth if chewed in its whole form. A little goes a long way. Cloves powder can be used to make tea; is lovely in baked goods and adds a depth of flavour to Indian-inspired dishes.

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Fennel Seed (loose herbal tea)

Fennel seed has a light, liquorice-like flavour and may help promote healthy digestion. As a result, enjoying it as an after-dinner tea, or adding it directly to food that can be difficult to digest. Even though we sell it as a loose herbal tea, you can use it in other ways. Add dry-toasted fennel seeds while cooking crumbled tofu with other mixed herbs to emulate an Italian sausage flavour. 

Suggested: Benefits of FennelFennel ProductsMoroccan-Style Fennel & Chickpea Tagine Recipe 

Fenugreek Seed Powder

Fenugreek is a dark, leafy green full of minerals and antioxidants. Its seeds are quite bitter, especially when eaten raw and as a powder. By cooking it, its flavour transforms and becomes more subtle and even sweet. Experiment by adding fenugreek seed powder to soups, stews, dal and curries.

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Garlic Flakes

Garlic flakes are a convenient alternative to fresh garlic. We suggest using it as you would fresh garlic, but with the convenience of not having to peel and mince. Its flavour is more subtle without the sharpness of fresh garlic and can have a slight sweetness. For those curious, one and a half teaspoons of garlic flakes can be the equivalent to one clove of fresh garlic. Try mixing the flakes with chili flakes and salt for a tasty topping for pizza or pasta.

Suggested: Garlic Products

Garlic Powder

Garlic powder has a much more subtle flavour than fresh garlic. Hence it won’t necessarily be an equal substitute to fresh - half a teaspoon is usually the equivalent to one clove of garlic. Add it to sauces, soups, stews and dressings and see how its taste transforms the flavour of your dish.

Suggested: Garlic Products

Ginger Powder

Ginger in its dried, powdered form has a more subtle flavour than fresh ginger, but still packs a punch. Ginger powder is spicy without being overly pungent and can withstand to be cooked for long periods of time without changing its flavour. Use a quarter teaspoon for every tablespoon of freshly grated ginger. It is great in teas, Asian-inspired soups and noodle dishes, Indian cooking as well as autumnal baked goods.

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Juniper Berries

Juniper berries aren’t a common pantry spice but can make an interesting addition with their tangy, citrusy flavour profile. Anyone who has tried gin will recognise the sharp pine-like, citrusy flavour of juniper (as gin is traditionally made using juniper berries). The berries can be crushed or used whole to flavour marinades, gravy, hearty vegetable stews and casseroles. They can also be used to flavour baked goods with their sharp tartness. Juniper berries can be boiled on their own to be taken as a tea.

Suggested: Benefits of Juniper BerriesJuniper Berry Products

Turmeric Powder

Turmeric is traditionally known for its beautiful, vibrant colour as well as its anti-inflammatory properties, which primarily come from the compound curcumin. Curcumin has many benefits but isn’t so easily absorbed into the system. However, when combined with the compound, piperine, which is found in black pepper, it becomes much more bioavailable. When using turmeric, add black pepper whenever possible! Turmeric’s flavour is subtle but can become bitter and astringent if too much is used so be careful not to go overboard. Add it to teas, and any all and types of food and cuisines. It adds beautiful colour without adding too much flavour and can therefore blend into the background.

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