Spices are the soul of Indian Cuisine and are the most basic ingredient of almost every Indian dish. Indian households are famous for their Masala Dabba and the spices included in that. But, while using these spices in every dish, we give very little thought to the fact that these spices can be adulterated and can harm your health more than it will benefit you. And so it is advisable to very cautious of the impurities when you buy the spices, as the impurities can blend into the ground spices smoothly and can be very difficult to detect.  

The food contamination incidents are rising rapidly since the year 2018, and due to the ongoing pandemic, it is skyrocketing. The scale of food fraud is estimated to around 50 billion a year worldwide. In the spice market, many merchants add foreign substances into the ground spices to increase the quantity of the spices. The most common substance found in the spices are the artificial colours and sawdust, which can increase the quantity while blending into the spices swiftly, making it almost impossible to differentiate. While the pure and unadulterated spices can add amazing zest and flavour to the dish, adulterated spices can ruin the taste of the dish as they are flavourless and bland. Indian Spices are used for centuries to cure health problems by many great saints, which is mentioned in Ayurveda. Even today, in this medically advanced era, spices are used to a greater extent for their numerous health benefits. Many people still prefer Ayurvedic medicines over Allopathy, as they do not have any side-effects.   

We use the spices in small quality, and so we cannot overlook the fact that they can be contaminated. Hence, it is suggested to buy whole spices and then roast and grind them at home. It will ensure that the quality of the spices is excellent. But, for some people, this can be a lot of work, and so they just buys the ground spices from the market only. Here we’ll discuss how you can check if the spices have been adulterated or not, so you can buy fresh and pure spices.

Here are a few handy tips to check the adulteration in the spices:

Red Chili Powder:

Red Chili Powder is an integral part of Indian Cuisine, and no dish is complete without it. But, many impurities can be found in the Red Chili Powder like Artificial Colour, Brick Powder, Saw Dust, and Starch among others.

  • Fill a transparent glass with water and a spoonful of red chili powder in it.
  • The pure chili powder will settle at the bottom of the glass while the sawdust will float at the top.
  • Moreover, if there is an artificial colour in the powder, it will descend in colour streaks.

Turmeric Powder: 

Turmeric is a magical spice, which is used as a home remedy to cure a cold and cough. It is often adulterated with Artificial Colour, Chalk Powder, Metanil Yellow, or Lead Chromate. 

  • Add 1 tbsp. of Turmeric Powder Haldi Powder in a glass filled with water and let it sit undisturbed for 10 minutes.
  • The pure powder will settle at the bottom of the glass, and there will be a light streak of yellow in the water.
  • And, if the powder leaves a strong yellow colour while settling, it is contaminated.

Black Pepper:

Black Pepper has a wrinkled surface with a strong smell and pungent taste. Papaya seeds & light berries are usually added with black peppercorns to increase the quantity.

  • In a glass filled with water, add a few peppercorns and let it sit undisturbed for 5 minutes.
  • The peppercorns settled at the bottom are black pepper, and the ones, which are floating at the surface, are papaya seeds.
  • You can also distinguish light berries as they can easily break if you press the berries.


Asafoetida has a very strong pungent flavour, and even though India is the largest consumer of it, we import it from countries like Afghanistan, Iran, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. Substances like Soapstone and Starch are used to contaminate Asafoetida.

  • Ground about a gram of Asafoetida in powder and then add it to a glass full of water.
  • Mix it thoroughly, and if there are no sediments remain at the bottom of the glass, the Hing is pure.
  • And if there is any artificial colour in the powder, it will leave coloured streaks.


Salt, when added, enhances the flavour of other spices and balances the sweetness, and suppresses bitterness. Chalk Powder is added to the salt powder to a greater extent to increase the quantity of salt.

  • Stir about a spoonful of salt in the water.
  • If the solution is clear, the salt does not have any impurities.
  • And, if the mixture is milky in colour and the residue settles at the bottom, then salt is contaminated with chalk powder.


Cloves are a flower shaped spice and is equally popular in both of its form i.e., Whole and Ground. This special spice adds a distinct flavour to the hot beverages, cookies, and cakes. Fresh cloves are often mixed with exhausted cloves, and sometimes they are coated with harmful mineral oils.

  • Cloves coated with harmful mineral oils leave a kerosene-like smell.
  • And you can distinguish fresh cloves from exhausted cloves by putting them in the water.
  • The floating ones are exhausted while the ones which are at the bottom are fresh.


Cinnamon was a rare and valuable spice in ancient times and was used gifted to royals. It is made for the innermost bark of a tree named Cinnamomum. Cassia Bark is often added with the Cinnamon sticks.

  • The cassia bark is comprised of several layers, while the Cinnamon stick is very thin and can be rolled easily.
  • One can easily distinguish these two by closely observing.

Cumin Seeds:

Cumin Seeds have a strong aroma and bitter, warm flavour. They are dark brown in colour and is also consumed as a mouth fresher in India. Grass seeds coloured with charcoal dust, sawdust, and starch are generally added to the pure and genuine cumin seeds.

  • Rub the seeds vigorously in your palm with the fingers, and if your palm turns black, it indicates adulteration.

Mustard Seeds:

Mustard Seeds are full of healthy nutrients like calcium, protein, dietary fibre, Omega 3 fatty acid, etc. There are about 40 different types of Mustard seeds, but black, brown, and white are very famous. Argemone seeds are added with the mustard seeds to infiltrate their purity and to increase the quantity.

  • You can easily distinguish Argemone seeds from Mustard seeds by visually examine them.
  • Mustard seeds have a smooth surface, and the core is yellow.
  • While the Argemone seeds have a wrinkled and grainy surface, and their core is white.

Below are a few tips you should keep in mind while buying the spices:

  • If possible, avoid buying loose spices. They have a high chance of adulteration.
  • Make sure to check for an FSSAI license. The brands that have this license follow the basic food safety protocols directed by the Government.
  • Check the ingredient list before buying any blended spices.

The spices which are fresh and contamination-free not only gives aromatic zest and flavour to the dish but also provides numerous health benefits. Our Vasant Masala spices are fresh and 100% authentic. You can buy these Indian Spices online from our website and you can also buy them from e-commerce websites like Flipkart and Amazon.


Check Out "How you can maintain the freshness of your spices for a long time"