Indian spices include a variety of spices grown across the Indian subcontinent (a sub-region of South Asia). With different climates in different parts of the country, India produces a variety of spices, many of which are native to the Subcontinent, while others were imported from similar climates and have since been cultivated locally for centuries.
Spices are used in different forms - whole, chopped, ground, roasted, sauteed, fried and as topping. They blend food to extract the nutrients and bind them in a palatable form. Some spices are added at the end as a flavouring and are typically heated in a pan with ghee or cooking oil before being added to a dish. Lighter spices are added last, and spices with strong flavour should be added first. Curry is not a spice, but a term used by western people and refers to any dish in Indian cuisine that contains several spices blended together and could be with a gravy base or a dry item.
A spice is a dried seed, fruit, root, bark, or vegetable substance primarily used for flavoring, coloring or preserving food. Spices are distinguished from herbs, which are parts of leafy green plants used for flavoring or as a garnish. Many spices have antimicrobial properties. This may explain why spices are more commonly used in warmer climates, which have more infectious disease, and why the use of spices is prominent in meat, which is particularly susceptible to spoiling. A spice may have other uses, including medicinal, religious ritual, cosmetics or perfume production, or as a vegetable.