Best Spice Markets in India

Best Spice Markets in India

No other country in the world grows and consumes such a plethora wide range of spices as India does, nor are they used so creatively. Spices are deployed in religious ceremonies, weddings, traditional medicines and every Indian dish imaginable. Seeing such magical spices piled high in traditional rattan baskets, huge ceramic bowls and wholesale crates is a site to behold: there’s the eye-catching pop of golden-yellow saffron, which, gram for gram, is more expensive than gold; the fiery red of India’s famously-spicy dried red chillis; and the jet-black of peppercorns (nicknamed ‘black gold’) that no dish in India is complete without. Read on to discover the best spice markets in India, each of which are sure to leave your senses - and your camera roll memory - delightfully overloaded.


  1. Khari Baoli Spice Market, New Delhi
  2. Mattancherry Spice Market, Cochin
  3. Lalbaug Spice Market, Mumbai
  4. The Clock Tower Market, Jodhpur
  5. The Old Market, Bangalore


Khari Baoli Spice Market

New Delhi

It’s hard to beat Khari Baoli in New Delhi when it comes to the best spice markets in India. To start with it’s huge, really huge, in fact it’s often touted as the largest spice market in all of Asia and it certainly feels that way. You’ll be hard-pressed for personal space as you navigate your way through the labyrinth of never-ending stands selling everything from teas, herbs and spices to pastas, jams and tinned goods. Old Delhi is historically famous for its homemade pickles, so make sure to get a good price on a jar of preserved fruits. The market was built in 1650 as a wholesale spice market and still functions as such today. You can stumble across travellers coming from as far as Uttar Pradesh squeezing their way through the narrow aisles with sacks upon sacks of spices in every colour imaginable. Once you’re dizzy from soaking in the potent aromas of the market, you can head up onto the rooftop for some fresh air and to enjoy some beautiful views across the streets of Old Delhi and its illustrious sites. As you step out of the market, we can have one of our top guides meet you to elongate your foodie adventure in Old Delhi with a culinary walk to discover the neighbourhood’s traditional street cuisine.


Mattancherry Spice Market


Perched on the coast of Kerala, Cochin (sometimes called Kochi) has a long history as a spice trading port that, over the centuries, has traded spices with Greek, Roman, Chinese, Arab and European traders. To this day, you can still see foreign ships loading up their cargos with precious crates of Indian spices. Mattancherry spice market lies six miles to the west of the centre of Cochin, on an old colonial island connected to the city by road and ferry routes. The moment you step foot into the market it is as if you have journeyed back in time to the height of the spice trade. You can admire workers drying, sorting and grinding all sorts of spices and overhear a cacophony of sellers and locals battling haggling over the prices of crates of spices. Make sure to come away with some pepper, turmeric and ginger, as these are grown in the state and used in traditional Keralan recipes. Once you’ve stocked up on local spices, we can arrange to have you whisked off to the nearby Vembanad Lake for an authentic cooking class, which is the perfect opportunity to use your freshly-bought spices to cook up a famously-spicy Keralan curry.

India spices


Lalbaug Spice Market


Far from the over-saturated colours of other markets, Lalbaug, in the south of Mumbai, is soaked in the wine-coloured red of the market’s famous dried red chillis. Lalbaug is fairly small but can be spotted from a mile away thanks to its huge sacks of red chilis stretching onto the the street and the distinctive glow of the crinkly speciality peppers drying in the sun. That said, tucked in behind the red-hot favourite is an array of other spices, including coriander, turmeric, nutmeg and even dried coconut. Most vendors will even welcome you into their stores to let you grind your own spices and mix up your own masalas (spice blends) using their equipment. At the end of your visit, we can arrange for one of our guides to lead you on a food-tasting experience through the aromatic streets of Mumbai, where you’re sure to spot plenty more red chillis being stirred into the city’s classic dishes.


The Clock Tower Market


While not solely dedicated to spices, Jodhpur’s oldest market is still a great place to go in search of the nation’s finest spices. The market is set around one of the city’s most central and iconic sites: the Ghanta Ghar Clock Tower, a big structure imported from London which is said to have been designed and built by those responsible forthe designers of the Big Ben. Rajasthan is the leading producer of seed spices, like cumin and coriander, and you can easily find some top-quality sellers at this market. While there, you can also browse for traditional clothing, ethnic footwear and locally-designed jewellery. At the end of your visit, we can arrange for you to enjoy a private tour of the old city and its many interweaving bazaars, street food stands and historic architecture.

Jodhpur Market, India


The Old Market


Our tour of the best spice markets in India finishes in the heart of one of the top spice-producing states: Karnataka. The state’s capital, Bengaluru (formerly Bangalore) is home to a fine collection of world-class spice markets, our favourite of which is the Old Market. The sprawling network of charmingly-crowded streets are is home to plenty of top-quality spice stores, some of which have been owned by families for several generations. The products on sale range from the everyday to the curious; you can find classics like turmeric root and cumin seeds, less-common products like liquorice root and even the soap nut, which can be soaked overnight in water and used as an organic homemade shampoo. You can also find a range of locally-cultivated red chillies, like the Byadagi Chilli (used in South Indian recipes) and the Salem Chilli (a key ingredient in local pickles). We can arrange for your Karantakan adventure to continue in the hills of Coorg, a few hours southwest of Bengaluru, where you can retrace the lifespan of the spices you’ve just bought by exploring the region’s lush green spice plantations.