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Spice Overview This table provides an overview of all of the spices in my archives.

Spice

Family

Taste And Smell

Heat*

Main Culinary Uses

Summary

Ajwain

apiaceae

Thyme-like, astringent

M

Arab/Indian vegetable and fish dishes

Indian version of thyme

Allspice

myrtaceae

Pungent, aromatic, mixed

M

Sauces, marinades, sausages, pickles

Cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg and pepper in one

Almond

rosaceae

Nutty, sweet or bitter

L

Desserts, Indian biryanis

A bitter nut for savoury and sweet dishes

Angelica

apiaceae

Musky, fragrant, juniper-like

L

Desserts, cheese dips

Aromatic member of the parsley family

Anise

apiaceae

Liquorice-like, sweet

L

Salads, stews, pastries, confectionery

The classical flavour for sweets

Annatto

bixaceae

Weak, perfumed, peppery

L

Food dye, marinades, stews

An orange dye from Southern America

Asafoetida

apiaceae

Pungent, rotten, repugnant

L

Dhals, curries

An Indian spice called “devil's dung�

berberidaceae

Sour, tart, acid

L

Jam, rice flavouring and colouring

A sour berry for jams and rice

Basil

lamiaceae

Pungent, sweet, citrus

M

Salads, sauces, stir-fries, garnish

The defining herb of Mediterranean cuisine

Bay leaf

lauraceae

Aromatic, bitter, pungent

L

Stews, pickles, sausages, bouquet garni

A classic bitter spice in Europe and elsewhere

Bay leaf, Indian

lauraceae

Aromatic, cinnamonlike

L

Curries

Aromatic leaves from North India

Bay leaf, Indonesian

myrtaceae

Aromatic, sour and astringent

L

Indonesian meat and vegetable dishes

The flavour of Bali

Bergamot

lamiaceae

Orange perfume, citrus

L

Savoury and sweet dishes, meatloaf, tea

An orange perfumed flower

Boldo Leaf

monimiaceae

Aromatic, bitter, camphor-like

M

Fish, sauces, gravies, pickling

The South American version of bay leaf

Borage

boraginaceae

Weak, cucumber-like

L

Salads, soups, sauces

The herb with cucumber scent

Bush tomato

solanaceae

Pungent, earthy, acidic

M-H

Stews, marinades, chutneys, sauces

Increasingly popular Aboriginal spice

Camomile

asteracaea

Strongly aromatic, apple-like

L

Salads, tea

The apple scented herb

capparaceae

Pungent, sour, astringent

M

Sauces, fish and meat dishes, pickles

Mediterranean spicy buds

apiaceae

Strongly aromatic and warm

M

Meat and vegetable dishes, bread

The defining spice of the Alps

Cardamom, Black

zingiberaceae

Aromatic, pungent, camphor-like

L

Kormas, stews

Smoky capsules from the Himalaya

Cardamom, green

zingiberaceae

Sweet and aromatic

L

Coffee, meat and rice flavouring, curries

The spice behind the Bedouins' coffee

apiaceae

Strongly aromatic, bitter-sweet

L

Soups, sauces, salads

The herb that scared the Romans

Barberry

Capers

Caraway

Celery


bitter-sweet

Romans

Chameleon Plant

saururaceae

Aromatic, astringent, citrus

L

Salads, garnishes

A strange mixture of lemon, orange and ginger

Chaste Tree

verbenaceae

Weakly aromatic, pungent, bitter

L-M

Pepper substitute, marinade

The aromatic spice of chastity

Chervil

apiaceae

Sweet, aromatic, anise-like

L

Garnish, sauces, bouquet garni

A symbol of good French and German cookery

Chicory

asteracaea

Crisp (leaf); nutty, bitter (root)

L

Salad (leaf), coffee substitute (root)

Versatile salad, vegetable and coffee additive

Chilli

solanaceae

Pungent, fiery

M-H

Savoury dishes, pickles, some desserts

The world’s fiery pungency

Chives

alliaceae

Weakly alliaceous

L

Soups, stews, sauces, garnish, cheeses

A decoration with a delicate flavour

Cicely

apiaceae

Sweet, aromatic, anise-like

L

Anise substitute, stewed fruit

A sweet flavour from Northern Europe

Cinnamon, Chinese

lauraceae

Aromatic, pungent, sweet

L

Stews, Chinese sauces

The first cinnamon variety in the West

Cinnamon, Indonesian

lauraceae

Aromatic, pungent, sweet

L

Stews, confectionery

Cinnamon grown and exported, but rarely used

Cinnamon, Sri Lankan

lauraceae

Aromatic, pungent, sweet

L

Biryanis, stews, rice and tea flavouring

The world’s most popular culinary bark

Cloves

myrtaceae

Sweet, pungent, astringent

M

Stews, rice dishes, desserts, pickles

Dutch trophy from the spice islands

Coconut

arecaceae

Sweet, nutty with sour liquid

L

Curries, stews, gravies, desserts, liqueurs

The most versatile of all tropical ingredients

Coriander, Bolivian

asteracaea

Aromatic, green, citrus

L

Soups, stews, sauces, garnish

Bolivia’s version of coriander

Coriander, common

apiaceae

Aromatic, nutty, citrus

L

Curries, soups, salads, garnish

The world’s favourite spicy leaves

Coriander, Long

apiaceae

Aromatic, nutty, citrus

L

Curries, soups, salads, garnish

The herbal taste of the Caribbean sun

polygonaceae

Aromatic, nutty, citrus

L

Soups, stews, sauces, garnish

The defining flavour of Southern Vietnam

asteracaea

Aromatic, balsamic

None

Soups, salads, garnish, cakes, tea

Britain’s forgotten balsamic herb

Cress, Garden

brassicaceae

Aromatic and pungent (transitory)

L-M

Salads, garnish, egg dishes, sauces

A refreshingly pungent decoration

Cress, Water

brassicaceae

Aromatic and pungent (transitory)

L-M

Salads, garnish, cheese dishes, sauces

Like garden cress but even better

Cumin

apiaceae

Aromatic, pungent

M

Curries, stews, breads

The heart and soul of Indian cookery

Cumin, Black

apiaceae

Earthy, pungent, nutty

M

Curries

An exclusive taste for the Emperor of India

Curry Leaf

rutaceae

Fragrant, citrus

L

Curries

Well-known name for littleknown Indian spice

Damask rose

rosaceae

Sweet, perfumed, delicate

None

Asian desserts and drink flavouring

A flower with sweet fragrance

Dill

apiaceae

Aromatic, bittersweet, anise-like

L

Soups, sauces, stews, pickles, fish, bread

The herb for pickling and stews

amaranthaceae

Citrus, savory, minty, petrol-like

L

Soups, salads, meat dishes

The defining spice of the Mayans

Fennel

apiaceae

Sweet, aromatic, anise-like

L

Fish, breads, sausages, curries

A sweet flavour for spicy dishes

Fenugreek

fabaceae

Aromatic, bitter, caramel

L

Pickles, curries, breads

A bitter classic everywhere except the West

Fenugreek, blue

fabaceae

Aromatic, bitter, caramel

L

Cheese flavouring, stuffings, breads

The fenugreek of the Alps

Coriander, Vietnamese

Costmary

Epazote


Fingerroot

zingiberaceae

Gingery, camphor-like

M

Thai curries

Thai cuisine's secret spice

Galangale, greater

zingiberaceae

Warm, sweet, gingery, pine-like

M

Thai and Indonesian curries

A taste as exotic as the Far East

Galangale, lesser

zingiberaceae

Aromatic, gingery, camphor-like

M

Malaysian/Indonesian/Sichuan curries

The mysterious flavouring of Indonesia

myricaceae

Aromatic, bitter, camphor-like

L

Soups, sauces, vegetable stews, beers

The beer spice of the Middle Ages

Garlic

alliaceae

Hot, alliaceous

L-M

Wide savoury use from salads to curries

Best friend of the onion but not of the vampire

Garlic, bear's

aliaceae

Warm, alliaceous, chive-like

L-M

Cheese flavouring, soups, sauces, salads

A culinary tip for gourmets

Ginger

zingiberaceae

Warm, pungent, citrus

M-H

Savoury and sweet dishes worldwide

A spice loved for pungency and fragrance

Grains of paradise

zingiberaceae

Spicy, warm and bitter

M

Stews, sausages, vegetable dishes

Peppery grains from Africa's West Coast

Horseradish

brassicaceae

Aromatic and pungent, transitory

M-H

Relish for meat dishes

Nature's lachrymatory agent

Hyssop

lamiaceae

Aromatic and slightly bitter

None

Soups, bouquet garni

Fragrant flowers with bitter taste

Juniper

cupressaceae

Aromatic, sweet, pungent

L

Pickles, salads, stuffing, venison dishes

Used in gin and fermented cabbage

rutaceae

Aromatic, citrus

L

Soups, curries, fish and poultry dishes

Harsh lemon fragrance from Thai kitchens

Kewra

pandanaceae

Sweet, perfumed, fruity

None

Confectionery, rice dishes, desserts

The rose fragrance of North Indian cuisine

Kokum

clusiaceae

Sweet and sour, tamarind-like

L

Tamarind substitute, curries, syrups

The sweet acidic taste of South India

Lavender

lamiaceae

Aromatic, perfumed, bitter-sweet

L

Meat and vegetable dishes, desserts, teas

The summer flower fragrance of Provence

rutaceae

Aromatic, refreshing, sour, citrus

L

Desserts, sauces, fish dishes, pickles

Cooking’s most important souring agent

Lemon balm

lamiaceae

Lemon-like

L

Lemongrass substitute, sauces, desserts

Bees' food with a lemon aroma

Lemon grass

poaceae

Lemon-like with rose hint

L

South/SE Asian savoury cooking

Refreshing citrus odour from South-East Asia

Lemon myrtle

myrtaceae

Intensively lemonlike, warm

L-M

Australian savoury dishes

A fragrance more like lemon than lemon

verbenaceae

Intense, pure, lemonlike

L

Confectionery, desserts, garnish

Leaves with lemon fragrance from S. America

Lime

rutaceae

Aromatic, lemon-like

L

Asian sauces, fish dishes, rice flavouring

The tropical relative of lemon

Liquorice

fabaceae

Sweet, warm, aniselike

L

Confectionery, Chinese sauce

A medical plant with culinary applications

Lovage

apiaceae

Aromatic, celery-like

L

Pickles, sauces, stocks, potato dishes

The Mediterranean celery herb

Lovage, black

apiaceae

Aromatic, pungent, celery-like

M

Salads, soups, stews, celeriac substitute

Alexander the Great’s favourite herb

myristicaceae

Warm, sharp, sweet

L

Desserts, curries

The second spice of the nutmeg fruit

rosaceae

Aromatic, bitter

L

Confectionery, pastries, cheese dishes

An exotic spice from Turkey

anacardiaceae

Sour, astringent, resinous

L

Indian marinade, desserts, sauces

One of the world's best fruits and more

lamiaceae

Aromatic, slightly bitter

L

Sausages, vegetable/fish dishes, stews

Roman aphrodisiac that flavours sausages

anacardiaceae

Mild, resinous, aniselike

L

Sausages, desserts, confectionery

The Greek chewing gum spice

piperaceae

Pungent, aromatic,

M

Mexican meat and fish dishes, sauces

The anise flavouring for

Gale

Kaffir Lime

Lemon

Lemon verbena

Mace

Mahaleb cherry Mango

Marjoram

Mastic

Mexican pepperleaf


nutmeg-like Mugwort

Mexico’s sauces

asteracaea

Aromatic and bitter

L

Goose stuffing, fish/meat dishes, salads

A bitter flavour for special occasions

Mustard, black

brassicaceae

Sharp, pungent, nutty

L-H

Indian vegetable/meat dishes and pickles

The subtle mustard used from Dijon to Goa

Mustard, white

brassicaceae

Sharp, pungent

M-H

Mustard paste, pickles, stews

The Western mustard favourite

myrtaceae

Aromatic, camphorlike, bitter

L

Smoking meat and fish, stuffings

An aromatic firewood

tropeolaceae

Volatile aromatic and pungent

L

Cheese spreads, salads, garnish, pickles

A refreshing pungency long forgotten

Nigella

ranunculaceae

Aromatic, bitter, oregano-like

L

Vegetable dishes, breads

The taste of Turkish bread

Nutmeg

myristicaceae

Sweet, warm, nutty

L

Desserts, curries, cheese/vegetable dishes

Versatile fruit spice for both savoury and sweet

Olive

oleaceae

Floral, fruity, bitter

L

Cooking oil, pickles, sauces, vegetable dishes

The definition of Mediterranean cuisine

Onion and shallot

alliaceae

Pungent, mellow, sweet

L-M

Pickles, curries, meat/vegetable dishes, sauces

The world’s most used flavouring

Orange

rutaceae

Aromatic, bittersweet-sour

L

Stews, salads, desserts, confectionery, tea

A sweet-sour juice and a bitter aromatic peel

Oregano

lamiaceae

Aromatic, warm and slightly bitter

L

Pizza, sauces, cheese/fish dishes, pickles

The defining flavour of pizza

Oregano, Mexican

verbenaceae

Aromatic, warm and slightly bitter

L

"Tex-Mex" dishes

The oregano of chilli con carne

Pandanus leaf

pandanaceae

Slightly nutty and haylike

L

Indian curries, SE Asian rice and desserts

Mouth-watering and nutty leaves

Paprika

solanaceae

Sweet, aromatic, pungent

L-M

Goulash, stews, sausages, salads

Red, variably sweet/hot temper of Hungary

Paracress

asteracaea

Salty to pungent and anaesthetic

M

Brazilian soups, meat and fish dishes

Pretty flowers that tickle the palate

apiaceae

Aromatic, green

None

Sauces, soups, fish/vegetable dishes, garnish

The world’s most popular green decoration

Pepper, black, white, green, red

piperaceae

Aromatic and pungent

L-H

Global savoury dishes and some desserts

Without doubt, the king of spices

Pepper, cubeb

piperaceae

Pungent, bitter, camphor-like

L-M

North African meat dishes

Bitter and pungent grains nearly forgotten

Pepper, long

piperaceae

Aromatic, pungent, sweet tones

L-M

Cheese dishes, sauces, pickles, stews

The first pepper that made its way to Europe

Pepper, negro

annonaceae

Pungent, aromatic, bitter, smoky

L-M

Tropical African stews and other dishes

An African pepper surrogate almost forgotten

anacardiaceae

Aromatic, sweet, juniper-like

L

Fish and vegetable dishes

A pepper that is growing in popularity

rutaceae

Aromatic, pungent, anaesthetic

L-M

Various Asian savoury dishes and pickles

Aromatic pungency from China's highlands

Pepper, Tasmanian

winteraceae

Sweet, pungent, anaesthetic

M

Australian savoury dishes

Pungency from down under

Pepper, water

polygonaceae

Bitter, pungent, anaesthetic

M

Soups, salads, fish dishes, garnish

A pungent herb for Japanese cookery

Perilla

lamiaceae

Aromatic, astringent, anise-like

L

Soups, garnish, pickles, fish dishes

A fragrant herb in Japan

Pomegranate

punicaceae

Fresh, sweet-sour

None

Vegetable dishes, marinades, cakes

The sour raisins of North India

Poppy seed

papaveraceae

Nutty, aromatic

L

Confectionery, desserts, curries, salads

Secret of opium and yeast dumplings

Pumpkin oilseed

cucurbitaceae

Intense, nutty, aromatic

None

Sauces, oil, spreads, soups, breads

The nutty seed oil from Mexico to Styria

Myrtle

Nasturtium

Parsley

Pepper, pink

Pepper, Sichuan


Purslane

portulacaceae

Salty, green, fresh

None

Soups, stews, cold vegetable dishes, garnish

The little known herb of Western Asia

scrophulariaceae

Aromatic, citrus, cumin-like

None

Fish dishes, soups, Vietnamese curries

The lemon-scented herb of the rice fields

brassicaceae

Pungent, nutty, petrol-like

L

Salads, garnish, pasta, risotto

Europe’s trendy salad green

lamiaceae

Aromatic, bitter, camphor-like

None

Fish, lamb, poultry and vegetable dishes

The Mediterranean partner for roast lamb

rutaceae

Aromatic, bitter, pungent

L-M

Meat/egg/cheese dishes, coffee flavouring

Ancient Rome’s favourite herb

asteracaea

Weak and herbaceous

None

Food dye, stews, garnish

A cheap and inferior substitute for saffron

Saffron

iridaceae

Fragrant and bitter

None

Desserts, confectionery, seafood, curries

The most expensive spice in the world

Sage

lamiaceae

Aromatic and bitter

None

Italian meat, poultry and noodle dishes

The key herb of contemporary Italian cookery

Salad burnet

rosaceae

Crisp, fresh, cucumber-like

None

Salads, garnish, fish/vegetable dishes, soups

A ubiquitous salad herb

Sassafras

lauraceae

Weak, fresh, citrus

None

Creole and Cajun dishes, drink flavouring

The heart of Creole cuisine

Savory

lamiaceae

Aromatic, summery, pungent

L-M

Legume/vegetable dishes, sausages, garnish

A perfect partner for beans

Sesame

pedaliaceae

Nutty, earthy

None

Margarine, oil, soups, sauces, garnish

As incredibly versatile grain

Southernwood

asteracaea

Aromatic, bitter, camphor-like

None

Meat dishes, bouquet garni

A flavour almost forgotten

Spearmint

lamiaceae

Aromatic, pungent, cooling

L

Lamb/vegetable dishes, desserts, pastries

The original chewing gum flavour

Star anise

illiciaceae

Sweet, aromatic, anise-like

L

Meat/vegetable dishes, stews, desserts

Decorative spice of Chinese and Thai cuisine

anacardiaceae

Sour, fruity, astringent

L

Kebabs, rice and vegetable dishes

Turkey’s purple powder with a sour flavour

Sweet clover

fabaceae

Aromatic, sweet, haylike

L

Cheeses, soups, stews marinades, teas

The herbal secret of Swiss cheese

Tamarind

fabaceae

Sour, astringent, fruity

L

Meat /legume dishes, soups and sauces

A sour and fruity spice of Asian cuisines

Tansy

asteracaea

Bitter, citrus, camphor-like

None

Garnish, desserts, egg dishes, cakes

One of Britain’s oldest herbs

Tarragon, French/ Russian

asteracaea

Anise-like, aromatic or bitter

None

Poultry/vegetable dishes, sauce, salad dressing

Used in mustard, but waiting to be discovered

Tarragon, Mexican

asteracaea

Intense, aromatic, anise-like

None

Poultry dishes, sauces, bouquet garni

The yellow flower with anise scent

Thyme

lamiaceae

Strongly aromatic, pungent, minty

L

Fish/meat/vegetable/ egg dishes, soups

A dream of Southern France

Tonka bean

fabaceae

Aromatic, sweet, haylike

None

Cakes, desserts, sauces

The beans with the fragrance of woodruff

zingiberaceae

Warm, acrid, bitter

L

Curries, food dye

The holy herbal dye of Ancient India

Vanilla

orchidaceae

Fragrant, sweet, delicate

L

Desserts, chocolate, milk drinks, ice cream

Ice cream’s Aztec heritage

Wasabi

brassicaceae

Aromatic, pungent, bitter

M

Japanese fish and vegetable dishes

Japan's spice for raw fish

fabaceae

Aromatic, bittersweet, nutty

L

Coffee substitute, barbecue seasoning

The chicory of Aboriginal Australia

zingiberaceae

Aromatic, bitter, camphor-like

M

Thai curries, pickles

The spice that shows the merits of bitterness

Rice paddy herb

Rocket

Rosemary

Rue

Safflower

Sumac

Turmeric

Wattleseed

Zedoary


I hope you enjoyed your visit to Aidan Brooks: Trainee Chef - Spices. Click here to return to my spice index. Click here to return to my home page.Trig.


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