It is no surprise that spices are well known throughout the world for their benefits. It is essential in many cuisines as it has been an expression of their identity and authencity for centuries. It is better to order spices online as you won’t get all spices from a desi store ..
As you will cook dishes of different cuisines, spices are key to recreating their traditional authencity. It can enhance the flavours and ignite your passion for cooking.
Over time, spices have gained traction globally, especially in the Western world. Thus, understanding and using spices are key to recreating authentic cooking. There are many spices worldwide, some more obscure than others.
It becomes more important to choose the best spices that can complement your cooking. However, what does “best” mean in terms of spices? It means spices that can not only improve flavour but have several medicinal benefits that can also be used as natural medicine.
Understanding these spices is the first step to authentic and beautiful cooking. This post will give a rough guide to the best spices in the world.
Therefore, we have compiled a list of the best spices that can complement traditional cooking and can improve your culinary knowledge for your cooking journey that are not listed in order.
Turmeric is a yellow spice that is derived from the turmeric plant. It is native to India. It is commonly used in Indian cuisine to add colour to many of its dishes. It makes the food more vibrant in presentation.
However, it is known for its medicinal benefits. Its anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties make it a natural medicine that can be an ailment for many diseases.
However, turmeric on its own is known for its bitter and overpowering taste. But, if added to dishes in moderation, turmeric can vibrate the dish further by adding a bright yellow colour. Ideally, half a tablespoon should be used for additional colouring.
Red Chilli Powder
Chilli powder is an essential spice used in Indian cuisine. It is made from ground red chilli, which is known for adding heat to many of its savoury dishes. It varies by region as there are different types of red chilli powders. Kashmiri Red Chilli Powder is one of the most popular varieties. It is known for adding colour to dishes while being less spicy than traditional red chilli powder.
Red chilli powder is common in curries as a flavouring as it is used for making them spicier. It should be added based on your spice tolerance. Ideally, 1-2 tablespoons.
Coriander is a key spice used in Indian cuisine. It is an herb used for flavouring. Its fresh leaves and dried seeds are traditionally used. The fresh leaves are alternatively called cilantro. It is known for its earthy aroma and flavour and is especially used as a seasoning in many dishes.
Its fresh leaves can be used as a garnish in Indian dishes such as Butter Chicken. It is one of the spices used to make a popular blend called Garam Masala.
Ginger is an essential spice derived as a bulb from the ginger plant, which is from the Zingiberaceae family, which is the same as turmeric. It is used in most cuisines but is more prominent in Asian cuisine. It is an essential ingredient in Indian cuisine, used for making ginger garlic paste. It is also common in Chinese and Middle Eastern cuisines. It is known for its strong aroma and flavor, with a tangy spiciness.
It is also known for its medicinal benefits, being anti-inflammatory to prevent diseases and being a remedy for digestive issues when used in moderation. It is a common home remedy and has been used for centuries traditionally.
However, if overdone, ginger can cause digestive issues such as ulcers, etc.
A commonly used spice, garlic is cultivated as a bulb consisting of cloves. It is one of the most versatile spices used in almost all cuisines to improve flavour. It is known for its pungent aroma and flavour.
In Indian cuisine, it is used as the key ingredient in garlic ginger paste, which is a common condiment to flavour many Indian dishes.
Garlic is also known for its medicinal properties, being an antioxidant and anti-bacterial. Alongside ginger, it has been a natural medicine for centuries, known to prevent cancer and cure many ailments.
If overdone, garlic can create a pungent flavour that can be overpowering. It also has side effects such as increased digestive issues and a risk of bleeding. Thus, it should be used in moderation.
Cinnamon is a spice cultivated from the inner bark of the cinnamon tree. It is known for its earthy aroma and flavour, also adding a delicate and subtle sweetness. Due to these properties, cinnamon is used in both savoury and sweet dishes, normally as cinnamon powder. Cinnamon in its raw form can be used in several dishes, adding a distinct aroma to each dish.
It is also known for its medicinal benefits, known to manage blood sugar levels and blood pressure. It is anti-bacterial, and a powerful antioxidant known to prevent cancer.
Cloves are a spice derived as dried flower buds from the clove tree, native to Indonesia. It is used in savoury dishes and is known for its pungent aroma. It is normally used alongside other spices such as cinnamon and bay leaves to improve flavouring in its raw form, especially slow-cooked soups. It is a key ingredient in Garam Masala.
Only a handful of 4-8 cloves should be added to prevent overpowering of flavours.
Cloves also have known medicinal benefits. They are known to prevent cancer and act as antioxidants.
Bay leaves are spices obtained from the Bay Laurel tree. They are aromatic leaves used to flavour soups in their dried form. It is common in Indian cuisine. It is normall used to infuse slow-cooked soups with an aromatic fragrance, then disposed of before finishing them. One example is the popular Indian rice dish Biryani, where it is one of the ingredients used to flavour the rice. It is also one of the ingredients used to make Garam Masala.
India’s most famous spice is Garam Masala. It is a combination of many dried spices such as cloves, coriander, cumin, etc. It is used in several dishes, such as Chana Masala. As a flavouring for savoury dishes such as curries, it adds more depth of flavour.
As it is a blend of different spices, it varies based on region and personal circumstances. Normally, Garam Masala consists of cloves, cinnamon, bay leaves, cumin, coriander seeds, etc. Because the ingredients differ, there will be a wide range of flavors.
Black pepper is a popular spice that is grown from its raw form, peppercorn.It is normally dried and grounded to make “ground black pepper.” Black pepper is the world’s most popular and earliest known spice, native to India.
It is famous for being one of the two table condiments, alongside salt. It is readily available and is used in many cuisines.
Known for its strong earthy aroma and its spicy flavour, it is known to elevate many dishes to the next level. In its raw form, it can be used as a seasoning. It is used as a flavouring in its powder form in Indian cuisines.
However, it should be used in moderation as it can overpower other flavours. Ideally, 1-2 tablespoons should be used.
Popular in Indian and Middle Eastern cuisine, it is a popular spice used for seasoning and flavouring. It is normally used as a powder for flavouring. In its raw form, it can be used to flavour rice and meat. It is known for its pungent aroma and flavor, with a subtle bitterness.
Cumin is better used as a powder as it is more palatable compared to its raw form, which is more pungent and bitter.
As with other spices, cumin should be kept in moderation, ideally a handful. Too much cumin can create a pungent and overpowering flavour, which causes your dish to be unpalatable.
There are three main varieties of mustard seeds used: black, yellow, and brown.
Black mustard seeds are not as readily available. It is popular in South Asian cuisine, known to add a spicy, tangy, and sharp flavour to its dishes. Normally, it is fried whole first before adding the rest of the ingredients.
Brown mustard seeds are less spicy than black mustard seeds but more readily used in many cuisines.
Yellow mustard seeds are the mildest yet still have a tangy flavour. It is alsoused in European cuisine as a condiment.
Cardamom is a spice made from the seed pods of the cardamom plant. It is used mostly in South Asian cuisines. There are two types: black and green cardamom. It is known for its spicy sweetness, which means that it can be used for both savoury and sweet dishes. Black cardamom is stronger and thus more suitable for savoury dishes.
On the other hand, green cardamom is more delicate and sweeter, making it more suitable for sweet dishes.
It has a distinct aroma that can be used for flavouring. It is also one of the ingredients used to make Garam Masala in Indian cuisine.
Saffron is a red spice obtained from the threads of the saffron flower. It is used mostly in Asian cuisines, especially Iranian cuisine. It is known for its subtle and delicate flavour. It is used in both savoury and sweet dishes, especially savoury dishes. It is also used as a garnish to add more reddish colour to a dish. Due to the difficulty of harvesting saffron, it is one of the most expensive spices.
Saffron is known to cure and prevent many diseases, especially being a powerful antioxidant.
Nutmeg is a spice found as a seed on the nutmeg tree. It is commonly used as a seasoning in savoury dishes. Known for its slight nutty and sweet flavour used in savoury dishes, it is commonly used as a flavouring in many cuisines, including Indian cuisine and European cuisine. It is also used in its powder form, known as “ground nutmeg,” for flavouring.
Nutmeg is known as a natural medicine for curing ailments.
However, nutmeg should not be overused as it is known to cause side effects such as allergic reactions and even hallucinations.
Oregano is a spice found as a mint. It has been mostly used in Mediterranean cuisine for centuries as it is native to the Mediterranean. It is also known as marjoram. It is used as a flavouring and seasoning for savoury dishes, in its ground form, such as salads, and as a garnish in Mediterranean dishes such as pizzas and pasta. It is known for its fragrant aroma and distinctive flavour.
Oregano has been known for its medicinal benefits for centuries, preventing cancer and managing blood glucose levels.
Asafoetida is a spice obtained from the gum of the Ferula, part of the celery family. It is commonly used in a yellow powder form. Native to Iran, but mostly prominent in Indian cuisine, it is used in moderation as a flavouring for savoury dishes.
It is notable for its pungent smell as a powder like garlic. The smell is gone once it is cooked. It has a similar flavour to onions but is much smoother. Thus, it is an alternative for people who prefer not to or cannot eat onions.
Asafoetida should be used in tiny amounts, ideally a pinch of Asafoetida in curries for flavouring.
Known for its medicinal benefits, asafoetida is known to cure bloating and prevent diseases through its antibacterial properties.
Understanding these common spices is your next step in cooking traditional and beautiful cuisine. It is essential to use it in moderation to bring the best out of the spices and prevent its side effects.
Here at Cambridge Spices, we offer various spices online at the best value that will elevate your cooking further.
We will strive to post further recipes to aid in your journey to more authentic cooking. Firstly, we wanted to give you a starting point for the various spices as part of your cooking journey.
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