Spices like star anise, cinnamon, coriander, cardamom, cloves, cumin, curcuma and ginger combine to make a melting pot of aromatic flavors, and these are the base of Indian cuisine. However, spicy doesn't have to blow your head off: not all Indian recipes are hot!
The word curry is used to describe almost any Indian dish, but it actually refers to a dish in sauce and a plant. Curry comes from the Tamil word kari, meaning 'spicy sauce.' The mixes of spices used to prepare what we call curry, made at home using a mortar and pestle, are called massala in Hindi.
Make a note of what to ask for at your local market or exotic food shop, and wow your fellow diners when you eat out by identifying the spices in your food!