Five flowers used in Indian curries

When we think of Indian cuisine, we typically associate it with spices such as garam masala, cumin and chilli. But did you know that flowers are often used in curries too? Packed with nutritional benefits that Indians have been aware of for centuries, flowers are often added to traditional dishes of various regions, as well as pickles, chutneys and cakes. They also act as a great meat substitute for vegan curries. Next time you enjoy Indian cuisine in London, one of these five flowers may be part of your dish!


Also known as the ‘drumstick flower’, moringa is native to the foothills of the Himalayas, West Bengal and Orissa. It’s a popular ingredient in Eastern Indian cuisine, used in curries and sabzi (vegetable dishes). It has a mushroomy taste and is high in fibre, magnesium and potassium.


The mawal or cockscomb flower is commonly used in Kashmiri cuisine and is often thought of as a spice. It’s used in Rogan Josh curries and other dishes to impart a red colour and add a taste that is similar to the basil leaf or spinach. It also has many health benefits, being high in calcium and rich in vitamin K and potassium. The flower is typically bought dried and then soaked in water to extract the colour.

Banana blossom

This purple flower grows at the end of banana bunches, but doesn’t taste anything like the fruit. Its flavour is more similar to that of artichokes – although it can be quite bitter if not cooked correctly – and it has a texture like jackfruit, making it popular in vegan dishes. Banana blossom is high in vitamin C and antioxidants, and acts as a natural mood booster.

Pumpkin flower

Just like the vegetable, pumpkin flowers have a sweet and mild flavour and make a great addition to curries. They are also used to make pakoras, having a deliciously crunchy texture when fried. They bloom in the morning, and many chefs pick only the male pumpkin flowers as the female ones will form the fruit. Pumpkin flowers are rich in calcium, iron, and B vitamins including B9 (folate), B3 (niacin) and B2 (riboflavin).

Bok phool

Bok phool is also known as the heron flower or agasthi. One of the less well known flowers used in Indian cuisine, it is associated with dishes from Maharashtra, Bengal and Tamil Nadu. Like the pumpkin flower, it can be made into fritters but also lends a fresh bitterness to curries. The leaves of the plant are used in Ayurvedic medicine, and the flowers are high in vitamin C and minerals.

If you’re looking for an authentic Indian takeaway in Kensington that uses ingredients treasured for centuries, look no further than Little India. As the best restaurant in Kensington for Indian cuisine, we serve exquisitely flavoured dishes that remain faithful to the culinary traditions of the Indian subcontinent. Book a table or order your takeaway today!