Thursday, March 13, 2014

List of Cooking Spices with Pictures


What's the Differences Between Spices and Herbs?

Many types of herbs are now used around the world. The word “herb” comes from the Labit herba, meaning a medical plant. The meaning of herb in a narrow sense is a nonlasting plant that withers after blooming without its stems becoming woody. Perennial herbs are widely used for the purpose of dying and gardening and other as well as for medicine and food. In Europe, herbs have long been utilized for medical purposes. Some edible herbs belong to the category of spice. Even some herbs containing poisonous components can be categorized as spices if the poisonous element can somehow be neutralized with heating and other cooking procedures.

An herb is botanically classified as a perennial plant, but the meaning of spice comes from its use in cooking, not any plant classification. A spice should, therefore, be edible. In fact, no spice definitions distinguish clearly between a spice and an herb. The term spice can be broadly defined as a compound that has a pungent flavor or coloring activity, or one that increases appetite or enhances digestion. A spice is obtained from seeds, berries, buds, leaves, bark, and roots of plants growing mainly in the tropical, the subtropical, and the temperate zones. Culinary experts include all edible leaves that are usually called herbs in the category of spices (experts call them “spice leaves” or “edible herbs”) and so-called medicinal herbs which are not used for cooking in the category of herbs.

Various parts of plants are utilized as spices. Besides leaves, bark (e.g., cinnamon), buds (e.g., clove), fruits (e.g., allspice, nutmeg, mace, and Sansho— Japanese pepper), and other parts can be utilized. The concept of a spice can be summarized as follows:

1. Many plants utilized for spice are grown in the tropical, the subtropical, or the temperate zone.

2. Not the whole but part of the plant is effective as a spice.

3. The effect of a spice is characterized more or less by its stimulating flavor.

What are Culinary Herbs?

Culinary herbs are distinguished from vegetables in that, like spices, they are used in small amounts and provide flavor rather than substance to food.

Many culinary herbs are perennials such as thyme or lavender, while others are biennials such as parsley or annuals like basil. Some perennial herbs are shrubs (such as rosemary, Rosmarinus officinalis), or trees (such as bay laurel, Laurus nobilis) – this contrasts with botanical herbs, which by definition cannot be woody plants. Some plants are used as both herbs and spices, such as dill weed and dill seed or coriander leaves and seeds. Also, there are some herbs such as those in the mint family that are used for both culinary and medicinal purposes.

What is the Functions of Spices in Cooking?

Primary and Secondary Functions of Selected Spices and Flavorings:

1) Taste: Thai basil, black pepper, cardamom, jalapeno, asafetida, lemongrass, star anise, kokum, sorrel, chipotle, habanero

2) Aroma: Clove, ginger, kari leaf, mint, nutmeg, rosemary, cardamom, tarragon, cinnamon, sweet basil, mango, rose petal

3) Texture/Consistency: Mustard seed, onion, sassafras, sesame seed, shallot, peppercorn, ajowan seed, poppy seed, candlenut, almonds

4) Color: Annatto, cayenne, paprika, parsley, turmeric, saffron, basil, cilantro, mint, marigold

5) Antimicrobial: Cinnamon, clove, cumin, oregano, rosemary, sage, thyme, ginger, fenugreek, chile peppers

6) Antioxidant: Turmeric, rosemary, sage, clove, oregano, mace

7) Health: Chile pepper, cinnamon, fenugreek, ginger, turmeric, garlic, caraway, clove, sage, licorice

Spicing Up Your Life with Herbs, Spices, and Seasonings

Herbs and spices are essential flavoring ingredients. Herbs are produced from the leaves and stems of a variety of plants; spices can come from a plant’s roots, seeds, bark, buds, or berries. If you stock the following, you will have the basics for most recipes:

1) Dry herbs: Basil, bay leaves, dill, marjoram, oregano, parsley, rosemary, sage, tarragon, and thyme

2) Salt and pepper: Table salt, kosher salt, sea salt, or other gourmet or flavored salts, as your taste dictates; whole or ground black pepper; whole or ground white pepper; cayenne pepper; and red pepper flakes

3) Spices: Allspice, chili powder, cinnamon, whole and ground cloves, ground cumin, curry powder, ginger, dry mustard, nutmeg, and paprika

Uses of Herbs in Cooking

The list of common herbs can help you decide which herbs go best with which kinds of dishes.

Common herbs you should know and their description:

1) Basil- Essential to Mediterranean cooking, especially Italian and French cuisine. Excellent with tomatoes, eggs, pasta, poultry, fish, and in vinaigrette.

2) Bay Leaf- Add the dried leaves to long-cooking dishes like soups, stews, poaching liquid, marinades, and pot roasts. (Remove the leaf before serving the dish.)

3) Chervil- Use with fish and shellfish, eggs, chicken, tomatoes, asparagus, summer squash, eggplant, and herb butter.

4) Chives- Try them in cream sauces or soups; with chicken, eggs, shellfish, or marinated salads; or sprinkled over cottage cheese.

5) Cilantro- Dried versions pale in comparison to fresh. Good with Mexican and Asian dishes, especially on rice, fish, and pork or in salsa and guacamole.

6) Dill- Use seeds in pickling recipes; use leaves on fish and shellfish, chicken, and omelets, and in salad dressing.

7) Marjoram- Add to almost any vegetable dish.

8) Mint- The most common varieties are standard peppermint and spearmint. Terrific with fresh fruit, in cold fruit soups and sauces, and in cold drinks like iced tea or mojitos.

9) Oregano- An essential ingredient in Italian and Greek cooking. A little goes far with poultry, tomato sauce, eggs, and vegetable stew.

10) Parsley- Better fresh than dried. An all-purpose herb, as well as a pretty plate garnish.

11) Rosemary- Excellent with grilled meat, especially lamb, and in herb bread, or to flavor oils and marinade.

12) Sage- Try it in poultry stuffing, in pâté, with fish and chicken, and in herb butter.

13) Savory- Comes in two types: winter and summer. Try it in fresh or dried bean salads, fish and shellfish dishes, omelets, rice dishes, and on tomatoes, potatoes, and artichokes.

14) Tarragon- This herb turns a Hollandaise sauce into a Béarnaise sauce. Also try it on chicken, pork, lamb, veal, fish, and shellfish, and as flavoring for white vinegar and hot or cold potato dishes.

15) Thyme- Add to vegetables, meat, poultry, fish, soups, stews, and cream sauces.

To get the most flavor from dried herbs, crush them between your fingers before adding them to a dish.

A Few Spices You Should Know: List of Common Spices

Spices, which are almost always sold dried, have been a vital element in international cooking since Byzantine times. Most spices come from the East, where they were introduced to Europe during the Crusades.

Spice Description:

1) Allspice- Spice berries with tastes of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves — hence the name. Excellent in both sweet and savory dishes, from pâtés and meatballs to fruit pie fillings, chutneys, and gingerbread.

2) Caraway- Common in German cuisine. Essential for rye bread and also in some cheeses.

3) Cardamom- Excellent in baked goods and pumpkin pie. One of the main ingredients in garam masala, an essential spice mixture in Indian cooking.

4) Cayenne or red pepper- A hot, powdered mixture of several chile peppers. Use sparingly for extra spice in any cooked dish.

5) Chili powder- A spicy mixture of dried chiles, cumin, oregano, garlic, coriander, and cloves. Use to flavor meat, bean dip, barbecue sauce, and, of course, chili.

6) Cinnamon- Sweet and aromatic spice from the bark of a tropical tree. Common as a baking spice and in Mexican chocolate, molé sauce, and Grecian cuisine.

7) Clove- Adds intense spice flavor to sweet or savory dishes — use sparingly.

8) Coriander- Seeds used for pickling; powder used for curries, sausage, and baked goods.

9) Cumin- Essential to Middle Eastern, Asian, and southwestern United States cuisine.

10) Curry Powder- A blend that can include more than a dozen different herbs and spices. Use to season lamb, chicken, rice, and sautéed vegetables, and in Indian curries.

11) Ginger- Essential in Asian cooking and in spice cakes and gingerbread. Use ground or grate the fresh root.

12) Nutmeg- Delicious in white sauces, sweet sauces, and glazes, over eggnog, in fruit and pumpkin pies and spice cakes. Best freshly grated.

13) Paprika- Varieties range from sweet to hot or smoked. Adds flavor and red color to dip, creamy salad, dressing, stew (like goulash), sautéed meat, chicken, and fish recipes.

14) Peppercorns- Black pepper is perhaps the world’s most popular spice, used to accent nearly every savory dish. Use white pepper to enrich cream sauces and white dishes for an unadulterated white color. Also try other colored peppercorns for a variety of flavor.

15) Saffron- The world’s most expensive spice, made from dried stigmas handpicked from a special variety of purple crocus flowers. Available as powder or whole threads. A little goes a long way. Essential to classic Mediterranean dishes like bouillabaisse and paella. Imparts a rich yellow color to cream sauces and rice dishes.

16) Turmeric- Yellow-orange powder that is intensely aromatic and has a bitter, pungent flavor; gives American-style mustard its color. Sold as a powder. Essential ingredient in Middle Eastern cuisine.

Watch video: Culinary Herb Identification

How to Handle Spices?

A spice may be available in several forms: fresh, whole dried, or pre-ground dried. Generally, spices are dried. A whole dried spice has the longest shelf life, so it can be purchased and stored in larger amounts, making it cheaper on a per-serving basis. Some spices are not always available either fresh or whole, for example turmeric, and must commonly, be purchased in ground form. Small seeds, such as fennel and mustard seeds, are often used both whole and in powder form.

The flavor of a spice is derived in part from compounds (volatile oils) that oxidize or evaporate when exposed to air. Grinding a spice greatly increases its surface area and so increases the rates of oxidation and evaporation. Thus, flavor is maximized by storing a spice whole and grinding when needed. The shelf life of a whole dry spice is roughly two years; of a ground spice roughly six months. The "flavor life" of a ground spice can be much shorter. Ground spices are better stored away from light.

To grind a whole spice, the classic tool is mortar and pestle. Less labor-intensive tools are more common now: a microplane or fine grater can be used to grind small amounts; a coffee grinder is useful for larger amounts. A frequently used spice such as black pepper may merit storage in its own hand grinder or mill.

Some flavor elements in spices are soluble in water; many are soluble in oil or fat. As a general rule, the flavors from a spice take time to infuse into the food so spices are added early in preparation.

How to Store Spices?

Proper storage and use of spices will maintain spice quality:

1) Store spices in a cool, dry place and try to use them within six to ten months. Whole spices, such as peppercorns, nutmeg, cinnamon sticks, cumin seeds, and coriander seeds, are more aromatic and flavorful than their pre-ground counterparts, so grind them yourself as needed. A coffee grinder reserved for spices works well for this purpose. Whole spices also can be wrapped and tied in a piece of cheesecloth, added to soup, stew, braises, and marinades, and then removed before serving.

2) Purchase dried herbs and spices in small quantities. After a year or so of storage, their potency diminishes. Keep all dried herbs and spices tightly sealed and away from direct sunlight and heat (don’t store them directly over the stove).

3) While you want to always keep the essential dry herbs on hand, some herbs (such as cilantro) are best purchased fresh, kept in the refrigerator, and used within a few days. Others can be purchased in either dry or fresh varieties. Fresh herbs have a brighter, lighter, fresher taste than dried herbs, which have a more intense, concentrated flavor. Try both to see which you prefer in your favorite dishes.

4) Store spice in airtight containers to maintain freshness. After each use, close container tightly. Exposure to air accelerates flavor loss.

5) Store spices at cool temperatures as they help retain flavor of spices.

6) Do not store spices in freezer as repeated removal for use results in condensation in the containers, resulting in loss of flavor and aroma.

7) Store in a cool dry place, away from heat (oven, stove), light (near window or in transparent packaging), or moisture (steam from cooking near spice container or use of a wet spoon into container). All this will hasten the loss of spice aroma and flavor and cause caking.

Learn how to store fruits and vegetables at... Complete Guide to Storing Fruits and Vegetables at Home

What are Spice Mix?

Spice mixes are blended spices or herbs. When a certain combination of herbs or spices is called for in many different recipes (or in one recipe that is used frequently), it is convenient to blend these ingredients beforehand. Blends such as chili powder, curry powder, herbes de Provence, garlic salt, and other seasoned salts are traditionally sold pre-made by grocers, and sometimes baking blends such as pumpkin pie spice are also available. These spice mixes are also easily made for home cooking for later use.

List of Common Blends or Spice Mixes

1) Advieh- a spice mixture used in Persian cuisine and Mesopotamian cuisine.

2) Apple Pie Spice- usually cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice

3) Baharat- used throughout the Levant. It is a spice mixture or blend used in Arab cuisine, especially in the Mashriq area, as well as in Turkish and Iranian cuisine. Bahārāt is the Arabic word for 'spices' (the plural form of bahār 'spice'). The mixture of finely ground spices is often used to season lamb, fish, chicken, beef, and soups and may be used as a condiment.

A recipe for baharat is a mixture of the following finely ground ingredients:

a) 4 parts black pepper
b) 3 parts coriander seeds
c) 3 parts cinnamon
d) 3 parts cloves
e) 4 parts cumin seeds
f) 1 part cardamom pods
g) 3 parts nutmeg
h) 6 parts paprika

The mixture can be rubbed into meat or mixed with olive oil and lime juice to form a marinade.

4) Berbere- an Ethiopian blend

5) Chili Powder- a mixture of powdered red chili peppers and other spices and herbs, such as cumin, oregano, and garlic, used in Mexican and Tex-Mex cooking, not to be confused with powdered chili peppers.

6) Chinese Five-spice Powder- a blend of cassia (Chinese cinnamon), star anise, cloves, and two other spices.

7) Curry Powder- used in southern part of South Asia and South east Asia. (This is Western misinterpretation of Indian spice blends, there is nothing called curry powder in South Asia)

8) Fines Herbes- is a combination of herbs that forms a mainstay of Mediterranean cuisine. The ingredients of fines herbes are fresh parsley, chives, tarragon and chervil. These "fine herbs" are not the pungent and resinous herbs that appear in a bouquet garni – which, unlike fines herbes, release their flavor in long cooking. Marjoram, cress, cicely, or lemon balm may be added to fines herbes. The marjoram may be dried.

9) Garam Masala- an Indian savory spice blend that is used in northern half of South Asia (North India and Pakistan.)

10) Garlic Salt- is a seasoned salt used as food seasoning made of a mixture of dried ground garlic and table salt with an anti-caking agent (e.g. calcium silicate). In its most basic form it is made by combining 3 parts salt and 1 part garlic powder.

It can be used as a substitute for fresh garlic, such as in dishes like burgers or chili.
It should not be mistaken with minced garlic, granulated garlic, or garlic powder, which are just ground dried garlic, also sold as spices. Ground garlic can be made into garlic salt by pouring it into a bowl with salt and pouring humectant on it.

11) Goda Masala- a sweet spice blend used in south western part of South Asia.

12) Herbes de Provence- a Provençal blend of thyme, marjoram, rosemary, basil, bay leaf, and sometimes lavender

13) Hawaij- Yemenite ground spice mixtures used primarily for soups and coffee

14) Italian Seasoning- a classic blend of herbs used for Italian cuisine

15) Kaala Masala- South Asian black spice blend

16) Khmeli Suneli- a blend used in Georgia and the Caucasus region

17) Lemon Pepper- also called lemon pepper seasoning is a seasoning made from granulated lemon zest and cracked black peppercorns. The lemon zest is mashed with the pepper to allow the citrus oil to infuse into the pepper. This mix is then baked and dried and can be used on meats (particularly poultry) and pasta, although it was originally used primarily for seafood.

Lemon pepper is generally commercially available in small jars, although it may also be homemade. Commercially available lemon pepper may also include smaller amounts of other ingredients such as salt, sugar, onion, garlic, citric acid, additional lemon flavor, cayenne pepper, and other spices.

18) Mitmita- is a powdered seasoning mix used in Ethiopian cuisine. It is orange-red in color and contains ground African birdseye chili peppers, cardamom seed, cloves and salt. It occasionally has other spices, including, but not limited to, cinnamon, cumin and ginger.

The mixture is used to season the raw beef dish kitfo and may also be sprinkled on ful (fava beans). In addition, mitmita may be presented as a condiment and sprinkled on other foods or spooned onto a piece of injera, so food can be lightly dipped into it.

19) Mixed Spice or Pudding Spice- a British blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and other spices

20) Montreal Steak Seasoning- a seasoning mix for steaks and grilled meats

21) Mulling Spices- a European spice mixture of cinnamon, cloves, allspice, nutmeg and dried fruit

22) Panch Phoron- a Bengali five-spice blend of whole fenugreek, nigella, fennel, cumin, and mustard or radhuni seeds

23) Pumpkin Pie Spice- an American blend of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, and allspice

24) Quatre épices- a French blend of ground pepper, cloves, nutmeg and ginger

25) Ras el Hanout- a North African blend that includes cinnamon and cumin among other spices

26) Seasoned Salt- is a blend of table salt, herbs, spices, other flavorings, and sometimes monosodium glutamate (MSG). It is sold in supermarkets and is commonly used in fish and chip shops and other take-away food shops. It is also known as chicken salt in Australia and in New Zealand, seasoning salt, season salt, chip spice.

Seasoned salt is often the standard seasoning on foods such as chicken, chips and deep fried seafood, or potatoes. Most take-away shops also offer the option of normal salt.

Chicken salt, as sold in Australia and New Zealand, generally contains chicken extracts, which are listed as the second ingredient after salt. It is therefore not suitable for vegetarians. However, some flavored salts sold as chicken salt do not contain chicken extracts or concentrates. It is not related to the chicken flavouring or seasoning that is found on potato crisps, although it can be similar in appearance (both have a slight yellow coloring).

27) Shichimi or Shichimi tōgarashi- translated from Japanese as "seven flavor chili pepper", also known as nana-iro tōgarashi  or simply shichimi, is a common Japanese spice mixture containing seven ingredients. It is often used in soups and on noodles and gyūdon. Some rice products such as rice cakes, agemochi and roasted rice crackers also use it for seasoning.

A typical blend may contain:

a) coarsely ground red chili pepper (the main ingredient)
b) ground sanshō
c) roasted orange peel
d) black sesame seed
e) white sesame seed
f) hemp seed
g) ground ginger
h) nori or aonori

28) Taco Seasoning- is a zesty blend of authentic Mexican seasonings, including onions and peppers, that's certain to turn ordinary food into a fiesta of flavor. Taco seasoning has a hearty flavor that's not too spicy but warm enough to complement a variety of meats.

29) Tandoori Masala- South Asian spice blend for tandoor cooked meats

30) Vadouvan- is a ready-to-use blend of spices that is a derivative of Indian curry blend with a French influence, a masala with added spices such as shallots and garlic. Vadouvan is usually used in gourmet cooking. The spice is thought to have originated due to French colonial influence in the Puducherry region of India.

31) Za'atar- both an individual herb and a blend of that herb with sesame seeds and sometimes dried sumac

Learn more about... Fast Cooking versus Slow Cooking Technique. It will take only 5 minutes of your time. :-)

Watch video: Spices Documentary


Corn, Charles. 1999. Scents of Eden: A History of the Spice Trade. New York: Kodansha.

Czarra, Fred. 2009. Spices: A Global History. Reaktion Books. ISBN 978-1-86189-426-7.

Dalby, Andrew. 2002. Dangerous Tastes: The Story of Spices. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Freedman, Paul. 2008. Out of the East: Spices and the Medieval Imagination. New Haven: Yale UP.

Krondl, Michael. 2007. The Taste of Conquest: The Rise and Fall of the Three Great Cities of Spice. New York: Ballantine Books.

Morton, Timothy. 2000. Poetics of Spice: Romantic Consumerism and the Exotic. Cambridge UP.

Raghavan, Susheela. 2006. Handbook of Spices, Seasonings, and Flavorings. (2nd ed. ed.). Hoboken: CRC Press. ISBN 9781420004366.

RHS A-Z encyclopedia of garden plants. United Kingdom: Dorling Kindersley. 2008. ISBN 1405332964.

Turner, Jack. 2004. Spice: The History of a Temptation. Knopf. ISBN 0-375-40721-9.

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