1. Achiote [Annatto] Seed
Achiote seeds are harvested from plants native to Latin America. The small, dark red seeds may be used dry or made into a paste. They add sweetness and peppery flavor as well as color to any dish.
Achiote seeds are used to color many varieties of cheese, and the home cook may add them to rice dishes for the same purpose. The spice also pairs well with fish and is used in many traditional dishes of Central and South America.
Annato Seed Recipes:
There are two different varieties of advieh, both of which are spice blends that originated in the Mesopotamian region. The blends vary by region, but many include cinnamon, rose petals, turmeric, cardamon and cloves among the ingredients.
One form of advieh is used primarily to flavor rice, while the other is used as a rub for meats or a flavor for stews. It adds a warm, slightly sweet taste and fragrance to a wide range of dishes.
Ajwain is a plant that grows in the Mediterranean region. Both the leaves and seeds are edible although it is the seeds that are most often used for cooking.
Ajwain seeds have a taste that resembles thyme and are commonly used in India and the Middle East. They are usually combined with other spices and pair particularly well with lentils. They may also be used to flavor bread.
4. Alaea Hawaiian Sea Salt
The indigenous Hawaiian culture mixed sea salt and volcanic clay to produce the spice known as alaea Hawaiian sea salt. It has a reddish-brown color and may not be readily available outside of Hawaii and California.
Alaea Hawaiian sea salt is used almost exclusively in native Hawaiian dishes such as kalua pig and jerky. It adds a distinctive salty flavor to meats and savory dishes.
Alaea Hawaiian Sea Salt Recipes:
5. Alderwood Smoked Sea Salt
The name of this spice is perfectly descriptive: it is Pacific salt that is smoked over alderwood. It has a smoky taste that is imparted to whatever it is cooked with.
Alderwood smoked sea salt is tailor-made for meats. It can be used as a rub or a marinade and is particularly tasty on meats that are to be grilled. This salt adds the strong flavor of smoke without artificial ingredients.
Alderwood Smoked Sea Salt Recipes:
6. Alligator Pepper
Alligator pepper is made from the dried seeds of a West African plant that is related to ginger. It adds a hot, pungent flavor to pepper pot soups and rice dishes. Alligator pepper also compliments vegetables, especially potatoes and varieties of yellow squash.
For the cook unsure of what to do with alligator pepper, it is usually compatible with dishes that call for cinnamon and cardamom. A bit of experimentation with substitutions and combinations should yield some delightfully flavorful results.
Alligator Pepper Recipes:
Allspice gets its name from the coincidence that it seems to combine the flavors of cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg. It is derived from the dried berries of a tree that is common in Mexico and Central America.
Allspice is heavily used in traditional Caribbean and Middle Eastern dishes where it is used to flavor meat dishes and sausage. In the United States and Great Britain, allspice is popular as a spice for baking and desserts.
Amchur is a spice made from dried green mangoes. It originated in India and has a fruity taste that reflects its source.
Amchur is a familiar ingredient in Indian cooking. It is used to add the flavor of mango when the fruit is not in season or when the flavor but not the moisture of the fruit is desired. It may be used to tenderize meat, and adds a delightful flavor to dishes from curries to soups to desserts.
9. Annatto Seed
Annatto seeds are harvested from the pods of the achiote tree which is native to Brazil. The seeds have a flavor that is a unique combination of nutty and peppery. Besides adding flavor to dishes, annatto seeds also impart a yellow or gold color and can be used as a less-expensive substitute for saffron.
Annatto seeds are important in the cuisines of the Philippines, Jamaica and Latin America and can be found in rice, cheeses and many local sauces.
Annatto Seed Recipes:
10. Star Anise
Star anise is derived from the star-shaped fruit of a tree that is native to China and Vietnam. It shares the same characteristic licorice flavor with anise and is used for many of the same products, including liqueurs.
Star anise is widely used in China, India and Indonesia for such traditional dishes as garam masala and pho. It is one of the ingredients of the five-spice powder that is a staple of Chinese cooking.
Star Anise Recipes:
11. Anise Seed
Anise seed, often called aniseed, is the dried seed of a plant native to southwest Asia. It has a sweet flavor that is reminiscent of licorice. Aniseed is used to flavor candies and desserts, including black jelly beans and Mexican hot chocolate, in cultures throughout the world. Aniseed is also used to flavor liqueurs such as Ouzo.
Anise Seed Recipes:
12. Apple Spice
Apple spice, sometimes sold as apple pie spice, is a blend of cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice.
Apple spice is a modern blend that is designed for use in any dish that contains apples, such as pie, pastry or baked apples. Its warm, spicy taste and aroma also lend themselves to breads, pumpkins and squash, and even some meat dishes.
Apple Spice Recipes:
13. Asafoetida Powder
Asafoetida powder is made from a gum that is exuded from trees in the Middle East. This gum is dried and ground to yield a powder with an unpleasant odor but a mild onion-like flavor.
Asafoetida powder is popular in Indian cooking, and it is often used to enhance the flavor of the other spices in a dish rather than imparting strong flavor of its own. The powder goes well with vegetable dishes and helps to make them more robust.
Asafoetida Powder Recipes:
Baharat is a spice blend that has its roots in Middle Eastern cuisine. There is no single standard list of ingredients for baharat, but it typically contains spices that run the gamut from sweet to sharp, including paprika, nutmeg, cinnamon and black pepper.
Baharat is usually used to flavor savory dishes including meats and soups, and it can be blended into an oil for use as a marinade.
15. Bay Style Seasoning
Bay style seasoning is a product of New England. It is a blend of spices that can be added to dishes as an ingredient or sprinkled on at the table.
Bay style seasoning pairs well with fish and seafood. It can be added to boiling water or mixed with butter and used to baste grilled foods. It has the advantage of being a low-salt blend with a powerful punch of flavor.
Bay Style Seasoning Recipes:
Berbere is a spicy blend that is popular in the cuisine of Northern Africa. It is usually made with basil, fenugreek, chili peppers, garlic and ginger, along with a variety of other herbs and spices.
Berbere may be used in powdered form or mixed with oil to form a paste. It is a traditional spice mix in the dishes of Ethiopia, including stews, meats and lentil dishes.
17. Black Pepper
Black pepper is derived from the dried fruits of a vine. It is often purchased as powder but may also be found as whole, dried peppercorns. The pepper plant is indigenous to India and Vietnam.
Black pepper is one of the most ubiquitous spices throughout the world. It has a mild, delicious bite that enhances almost any savory dish. It is most commonly used in concert with salt, and the familiar salt-and-pepper shakers that can be found in any kitchen testify to its popularity.
Black Pepper Recipes:
18. Black Brazilian Peppercorns
Black Brazilian peppercorns are the small fruits of plants native to Brazil. Although quite similar in taste to common black pepper, there are subtle differences that lead some cooks to prefer the Brazilian variety.
Brazilian black pepper tends to be a bit stronger and sharper than other black peppers, and it may be substituted for black pepper in any recipe that will not be overwhelmed.
Black Brazilian Peppercorn Recipes:
19. Black Salt
Black salt is found in Asia. Its mineral composition causes it to have the odor of sulfur and a dull purplish-pink color. Black salt is used to flavor dishes of all sorts in South Asia, where it appears as a condiment, an ingredient and a snack.
Black salt is becoming more popular outside of Asia, and vegans have discovered that it can be used to provide an egg-like flavor to dishes that are free of real eggs.
Black Salt Recipes:
20. Bolivian Rose Salt
This salt is a lovely pale pink shade and is found in the mountains of Bolivia. It has a high mineral content and is typically sold in a coarse grind.
Bolivian rose salt is a gourmet selection and may be used for fish and meats, vegetables and eggs. It is an unusual and fun choice to rim the glasses of strawberry daiquiris and strawberry margaritas.
Bolivian Rose Salt Recipes:
21. Cajun Spice
A spicy blend of red pepper, onions and garlic forms the base of this spice that is custom-made for cooking from the Deep South. Other herbs and spices are added according to the taste of the manufacturer or cook.
Cajun spices are an excellent addition to fish and seafood. They are often included in the rubs of the popular blackened fish dishes, and they also add layers of flavor to rice dishes and jambalayas.
22. Caraway Seed
Caraway seeds are not really seeds at all, but the dried fruits of a plant that is found in north Africa, Europe and Asia. Caraway seeds have a flavor that is similar to that of anise and are perhaps most familiar as the ingredient that gives rye bread its distinctive taste.
Caraway seeds are used in a wide variety of dishes throughout the world, from rice dishes in India to cakes in England. They are used to make liqueurs and are even chewed to freshen the breath.
23. Black Caraway Seed
Black caraway seeds are harvested from plants that are native to Asia. They have a taste that resembles pepper and onions, and they are popular in the cuisine of India and the Middle East.
Black caraway seeds are often blended with other spices and used to flavor curries, but they are also used in the familiar naan bread and may even be used as a substitute for pepper if the need arises.
Cardamom pods are the seeds of plants that were originally grown in India. While whole pods are available to the consumer, cardamom is most often used as a powder.
Cardamom lends both flavor and aroma to savory dishes but is most popularly used in drinks, sweets and pastries. Cardamom bear claws are a popular breakfast pastry, and the spice is also used to flavor coffee and tea.
25. Green Cardamom
Green cardamom is the seed from one of several related species of plant native to India. Black and green cardamom may often be used interchangeably, though some people find the green variety has less of a smoky flavor.
There are regional variations in the common uses of green cardamom. In India, it is most often used in savory dishes, while the Nordic countries prefer it in bread. Green cardamom is also used to add flavor to coffee and tea.
Cassia is popularly called cinnamon, although there are subtle differences between “true cinnamon” and the cassia that is broadly known as cinnamon. It comes from the bark of a tree that is native to Asia.
Cinnamon is one of the most popular spices, adding its sharp, sweet flavor to a broad range of dishes. It is used to flavor desserts, pastries and beverages, and can also add interest to savory dishes made with lamb.
The cayenne pepper is a bright red pepper that is dried and ground into powder for cooking. While it is native to tropical regions, its popularity has caused it to be cultivated in gardens wherever it can be coaxed to grow.
Cayenne pepper is used to add heat to dishes from any culture. It is popular in Asian cuisine and Tex-Mex, and some aficionados use it like salt or pepper to sprinkle on their favorite foods.
28. Celery Seeds
Celery is grown as a common vegetable throughout the temperate regions of the world. Its seeds are used as flavorings and may be found either whole or ground.
As an ingredient, celery seed imparts a very concentrated celery flavor, so a little goes a long way. It is used in stews and pickling, and may be used in salads or sprinkled on breads to act as both flavoring and garnish.
29. Chaat Masala
Chaat masala is a blend of spices that was developed in India. It may contain as many as a dozen ingredients including amchur, ginger and cumin. It has a tangy flavor with just a bit of heat.
Chaat masala is often used as a garnish on raw foods. It may be sprinkled on fresh fruits, vegetables or salads to add extra flavor. Like other spice blends native to India, it is also used in curries.
Chermoula is a Middle Eastern blend of herbs and spices. There are many different recipes for chermoula, but it typically contains garlic and coriander along with a list of other ingredients that may include lemon, chili peppers and onion.
Chermoula is used as a marinade to flavor meat and fish. It also adds flavor when used as a sauce for vegetables and grains.
31. Chili Powder
Chili powder is made from dried and ground chili peppers. Chili powder sold in the supermarket may be from a single type of pepper or may be a blend of spices including cumin and oregano.
Chili powder is used in many cultures from Thailand to the American Southwest to give a hot spark to savory dishes. The blend of spices used to make chili powder is often regional, and it varies from relatively mild to burning hot. A bit of experimentation may be needed by the cook to find just the right variety for the taste of the diners.
32. Red Chili
Red chili is the powder made from dried red chili peppers. There are several different peppers that may be used and they vary in intensity from mild to very hot.
Red chili is used in the cooking of cultures around the world. It is used in powdered form to add heat to savory dishes and made into a sauce to use as a condiment. Oils made from red chili may be used for sauteing and frying.
33. Chipotle Powder
Chipotle chilies are a product of Mexico. They are really just jalapeno peppers that have been smoked to a deep red color. They retain the same level of heat as jalapenos with the added flavor of smoke.
Chipotle powder is widely used in Mexican, Tex-Mex and Central American cuisine. It can be made into a sauce to use as a condiment. While most often used to enhance meat dishes, it is occasionally called for in sweet recipes to lend a surprising and delicious bite.
True cinnamon is not the same as the “cinnamon,” also called cassia, with which most cooks are familiar. True cinnamon is derived from the bark of a tree that is native to Sri Lanka.
Although most markets sell cassia rather than true cinnamon, the cook who finds the true spice may use it interchangeably with cassia. It is most often used to flavor pastries, desserts and beverages such as hot chocolate and coffee.
35. Cream of Tartar
Cream of tartar is not a cream at all, but a white powder that is scraped in crystallized form from the inside of wine casks. It is not used as a seasoning in cooking, but it does have a number of other actions.
Cream of tartar can stabilize the texture of eggs and cream, help vegetables retain their color while cooking, and act as a thickener. It can also be used in recipes that call for baking soda, as it helps to increase the activity of the soda.
36. Ground Clove
Ground cloves are the dried, ground buds of a tree that grows in India and Indonesia. While originally used in Asia, Africa and the Middle East, cloves are now used on every continent to enhance dishes from curries to desserts.
Ground cloves blend particularly well with other warm spices like cinnamon and nutmeg. They may be used to flavor beverages such as wine and chocolate, and they are popular during the holiday season for breads and pastries.
37. Whole Clove
Cloves are the dried buds of trees that grow in Indonesia. Cloves were developed as a spice in Asia and the Middle East, but their popularity has expanded to Europe and the Americas.
Whole cloves are most often used to stud meats and fruits to add flavor during cooking. They pair particularly well with ham, apples and pears, lending a distinctive sweet taste.
38. Colombo Powder
Colombo powder was originally developed in India, but it is now used most extensively in the West Indies. It is a combination of spices in the same vein as curry powder, but it contains roasted rice as its characteristic ingredient.
Roasted rice gives Colombo powder a nutty flavor, although it has the same dull yellow color as curry powder. It can be used to flavor savory dishes made with meats and vegetables.
Coriander is the seed of the cilantro plant. It grows naturally in a geographical band that runs from Asia through southern Europe and northern Africa. It has a citrus flavor, most like that of oranges, and may be found in whole or powdered form.
Indian cuisine uses coriander for traditional dishes such as garam masala. Other cultures use the spice for flavoring sausage and pickling. The citrus flavor of coriander has recently made it a popular additive for some styles of beer.
The berries from a pepper plant native to Indonesia are used as the spice called cubeb. The dried berries resemble peppercorns both in appearance and taste, but they also have a bit of the flavor of allspice.
Cubeb is used primarily to flavor meat dishes and may also be used as a marinade. It is not yet in common use in the West, but the cook who finds a supply may want to begin with using the spice as a substitute for pepper and go from there.
41. Curry Powder
Curry powder is usually associated with Asian cooking. It is a mix of several ingredients, and the mix is not standard. Different countries, and even different cooks, will have their own blend of a half-dozen spices that are ground together into a curry powder.
Most curry blends contain chili pepper for a bit of bite. Curry powder adds a characteristic flavor, aroma and color to chicken, rice and vegetable dishes.
42. Hot Curry Powder
Adding extra red pepper and ginger to traditional curry powder yields the variety known as hot curry powder. This spicy blend is typical of the cuisine of Southern India.
Hot curry powder can be used in any recipe that calls for curry powder when a bit of extra fire is desired. It is an excellent addition to meat dishes, vegetables and curries.
43. Korma Curry Powder
Korma curry powder is a spice blend that is specifically made to use in the dish called Korma Chicken. The ingredients may vary, but they usually include red peppers, ginger, onion and turmeric, along with perhaps as many as a dozen other herbs and spices.
Korma curry powder is often blended with yogurt or coconut and used as a marinade for the chicken used in Korma Chicken. It can also be used to make a gravy or sauce to be poured over the dish before serving.
44. Madras Curry Powder
The Madras region of southern India is the source of this fiery curry. It shares a deep yellow hue with common curry powder, but the addition of extra red pepper gives it a noticeably hotter tang.
Madras curry powder can be used in any recipe that calls for curry, but the diners must be ready for the extra heat. It enhances meat dishes, curries and vegetables.
Cumin may be used as either whole seeds or powder. The seeds are harvested from the flowers of a plant that is found from India to the eastern shores of the Mediterranean.
India is the largest consumer of cumin by far, although most other cultures also enjoy the color and warmth it brings to cooking. Cumin is often used as an ingredient in chili powder and curry powder. It is quite versatile, adding flavor to dishes from stews to pastries.
Dill is a lacy plant that is native to Europe and Asia. The leafy portions can be used fresh or dried, and the seeds are sold in dry form.
Dill is widely used in many cultures. It famously flavors pickles, can be sprinkled over bread dough, soups and salads, and can be used to flavor butter for potatoes, corn and other vegetables. Many appetizer dips have dill added for an extra bit of zing.
Dukkah, also sometimes spelled duqqa, is a seasoning blend that hails from Egypt. It consists of herbs, spices and nuts, although the specific ingredients vary widely from one preparation to another.
Dukkah has a very coarse texture, and it can be used as a coating for grilled meats or a topping for salads. It may also be combined with oil to make a paste for dipping pita or other breads.
The roots, leaves and seeds of the fennel plant can all be used in cooking. This generous plant is indigenous to the Mediterranean area. It has a flavor that is similar to the licorice taste of anise but is not as powerful.
The fennel bulb is cooked as a vegetable, like an onion, although the flavor is quite different. The leafy parts of the plant may be eaten as a side dish, used to flavor egg dishes, or used as a garnish.
The seeds of the fennel plant are particularly popular in Indian and Middle Eastern cooking, where they are used in both sweet and savory dishes.
49. Fenugreek Seed
Fenugreek is native to the Near East, but is now widely grown. The seeds are often used in Indian cookery and have a sweet taste.
Fenugreek seeds may be used to flavor vegetables, and in many cultures are combined with other herbs and spices to produce mixes and pastes to flavor everything from relish to bread.
50. Five-Spice Powder
Five-spice powder, sometimes called Chinese five-spice powder, is a blend of spices used in Asian and Middle Eastern cooking. There is not a standard recipe, but the blend often contains star anise, cinnamon, cloves, hot pepper and fennel.
Five-spice powder is most often used to flavor meats as a rub, or it may be used as an ingredient in breading or stuffing.
51. Four Color Peppercorns
Black, white, pink and green peppercorns are blended to create this unique spice. It gives a depth and complexity of flavor that goes beyond the commonly used black pepper.
Four color peppercorns also add a bit of color to any dish in which they are used. This blend can be substituted in any recipe that calls for pepper, or it can be used to fill the tabletop shaker.
Frankincense is a resin that is exuded from trees found in Africa and the Middle East. Although some forms are edible, it is not usually used in cooking.
Frankincense is most often used for its aromatic properties in perfumes, skin care products and aromatherapy oils. Some cultures take it internally as a traditional medicine.
Galangal is a cousin of ginger, native to Indonesia. It may be purchased as a rhizome, which looks similar to ginger root, or in powdered form. Although it resembles ginger, the taste of galangal is quite different. It has a distinctive pepper flavor and is often paired with meat and fish.
Thai cuisine uses galangal as an element of the curry paste that is used to flavor various main dishes.
54. Garam Masala
Garam masala is a warm blend of spices that originated in India and Asia. The specific spices used in the blend vary by region and by cook, but it usually includes cumin, pepper, cardamom and cinnamon, along with perhaps a half-dozen other ingredients.
Garam masala may be used powdered or combined with liquids into a paste. It is most often used to flavor meat dishes.
Garlic is one of the accomplished cook’s favorite things to season with. The plant is a native of Asia, but its popular bulb has found its way into the dishes of almost every continent. Garlic has a characteristic pungent taste and can be eaten raw, sauteed, roasted or baked.
Garlic may be chopped into dishes as an ingredient, and it can also be infused into cooking oils and blended into butter. Garlic is available in powdered form, too, which can be sprinkled into soups or onto vegetables and meats.
56. Garlic Powder
Garlic powder is simply the dried, ground version of garlic. It should not be confused with garlic salt, which, as the name implies, is garlic powder mixed with salt.
Garlic powder can be substituted for fresh garlic in any dish that calls for the seasoning, but the powder does have a slightly different flavor. It is particularly well suited to liquid or creamy dishes, like soups and sauces, because of its ability to evenly disperse.
Ginger may be purchased fresh as a gnarled rhizome or dry as a powder. First discovered in China, this popular spice has a distinctive sweet bite that blends with desserts, breads and main dishes.
Indian cuisine uses ginger in curries and meat dishes, while the U.S. cook may think first of fragrant sweets like gingerbread. Ginger is also used to flavor beverages such as spiced teas and ginger beer.
58. Gumbo File Powder
Gumbo file powder is made from the leaves of the sassafras tree, which is native to North America. It is specifically intended for use in the gumbo dish that has its roots in the American South.
Gumbo file is typically added to a gumbo at the end of cooking, just before it is ladled over rice. It imparts a distinctive flavor and bite that “makes” the dish.
Harissa is a spice blend that originated in Northern Africa. It consists primarily of various chili peppers blended with garlic, coriander and caraway, although there are regional variations. The spices are mixed with oil to form a paste.
Harissa is used as a condiment for meats and breads. It may also be added to soups, meats, and traditional dishes made with couscous and chickpeas.
Horseradish is made from the root of a plant that is so ubiquitous its origins have been lost. It is quite pungent and has the power to make the eyes water and the mouth burn.
Horseradish is most often served as a sauce. What it is combined with will vary depending on the region, but its use is similar. It is most often served as a condiment for meats and sandwiches.
61. Juniper Berries
Juniper berries are the fruits of the juniper tree, and they are usually available in dry form. These berries give gin its distinctive taste, but they have uses in the kitchen far beyond the classic liquor.
Juniper berries have a sharp citrus taste that pairs well with game meats, particularly birds. They may be used in rubs, marinades, stuffings and sauces. Juniper will also enhance any dish made with cabbage.
Kokum is derived from the outer coating of a fruit that is native to India. The dried husk is quite sour and is used in cooking to impart that distinct sour taste to various dishes.
Kokum is used to flavor lentil dishes and curries. It is also sometimes used to balance the effect of sweet seasonings. It is popular regionally in beverages that are said to cool the body in the hot Indian climate.
63. Licorice Root
Licorice root is the source of the sweet flavoring familiar to all fans of licorice candy. It comes from a plant that is native to India and Asia.
In addition to its use as a flavoring for candy and sweets, licorice root can also be made into a drink, chewed to freshen the breath, and used to flavor liqueurs.
Mace is derived from the seed casings of a tree found in Indonesia. The enclosed seed is the source of nutmeg, and the two spices have a similar taste. Mace is considered to have a lighter flavor and has the added benefit of giving a yellow or orange tint to any dish in which it is included.
Mace is often included in curry mixtures, and is also a favorite for desserts and breads. It is rather delicate and will lose its flavor if stored or cooked too long.
Mahlab is common in MIddle Eastern cooking and is slowly making its way into the cuisine of the West. Mahlab is made from the seeds of a cherry and has a tart, sour flavor.
Mahlab, in powdered form, is added to cakes, cookies and pastries to tone down the sweetness and add a bit of its cherry and almond flavor. It may also be made into a paste and used as a condiment.
66. Mulling Spices
The traditional drinks of fall and winter, including mulled wine and hot apple cider, depend upon the addition of mulling spices. This spice blend may be purchased or made at home to the cook’s personal taste.
Mulling spices are based on cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg, and different preparations may also include raisins, peppercorns, cardamom and orange rind. Mulled drinks are made by heating the spices with the cider or wine to impart the flavor, then straining the loose matter from the finished drink.
67. Mustard Powder
Mustard powder is the dried, powdered form of mustard seed. Commercial preparations are usually a blend of white and brown mustard seeds.
Mustard powder is often used in dressings and condiments to enhance the flavor of salads and cold dishes. Mustard powder can also add its tangy flavor to meat dishes, green vegetables and potatoes.
68. Mustard Seed
Mustard seeds are the small seeds of the mustard plant. There are several varieties of this plant and they are widely cultivated. The seeds vary from mild to warm depending upon the variety.
Mustard seeds are used for pickling and curries, and in some regions of India mustard seed oil is used extensively for cooking. Mustard seeds are also, of course, used to make the popular condiment used on sandwiches.
The seeds of the nigella plant are used in the cuisine of India and the Middle East. The seeds are small, black, and combine the tastes of oregano, black pepper and onion.
Nigella seeds are commonly used to flavor curries, meats and vegetables. They are also often combined into regional spice blends that are used to prepare traditional dishes.
Nutmeg is the seed of a tree native to Indonesia. It is most often found in ground form but is increasingly available as the whole seed.
Nutmeg has a warm, sweet taste that is used in the U.S. primarily to flavor breads and desserts and is often paired with pumpkin and squash. Other cultures use it to enhance soups, meats and stuffings.
71. Ground Nutmeg
Nutmeg is the seed of a tree that is native to Indonesia. While the seeds may be purchased whole, nutmeg is most often sold in its ground form.
Nutmeg has a strong, sweet flavor that can enhance meat dishes, sauces and stews. It is also popularly sprinkled on egg nog and adds flavor to mulled wine. Nutmeg makes a delightful addition to any spicy blend for bread, pastries and teas.
Paprika is made from dried, ground chili peppers. It is indigenous to Mexico and may vary from mild and sweet to quite hot depending upon the variety of pepper. Besides the bite of flavor paprika adds to a dish, it also gives it a warm red or orange color.
Paprika is often used as a garnish, but it may also be added to any dish where a mild red pepper is desired. It goes well with meats and sauces.
73. Panch Phoron
Panch phoron is a blend of seeds that was developed in India as a seasoning. The seeds are not ground but are used whole. The mix usually includes fenugreek, cumin, mustard seed, nigella and fennel.
This blend may be used in curries or to enhance the taste of meat, fish and vegetables. It may also be used for pickling It adds sweetness and aroma as the heat of cooking releases its flavor into the dish.
74. Hungarian Hot Paprika
Hungarian paprika is made from a pepper that is actually native to the Americas. There are several varieties of Hungarian paprika, but they all share the qualities of being strong yet sweet with a bright color.
Hungarian hot paprika is a welcome addition to many meat dishes and sauces. It adds fire, but with a hint of sweetness. It is also used to give rice dishes a rich color and flavor.
75. Hungarian Sweet Paprika
Hungarian paprika is available in several forms, but they are all made from peppers that were originally cultivated in the Americas. Hungarian paprika is considered a premium spice because of its blend of heat, sweetness and color.
Sweet paprika has a taste similar to red bell peppers, and it can therefore be used when a milder flavor is desired. Sweet paprika can be used in meats and sauces, but it is also appropriate for sprinkling as a garnish. Sweet paprika is also a good choice for rice and potato dishes where the color is desired but not the spiciness of a hotter paprika.
76. Sweet Hot Paprika
Sweet hot paprika is a blend that is commonly found in supermarkets. Paprika is made from peppers native to the Americas, and it is available in several varieties from hot to sweet.
Because sweet hot paprika is a blend, it offers the characteristics of both hot and sweet types. It adds just a touch of heat without being overpowering and brings a bit of sweetness and color, too. This blend is a good choice for garnishes and light seasoning.
77. Poppy Seed
Poppy seeds, as the name suggests, are harvested from the opium poppy. The commercial production of poppy seeds takes place largely in Europe.
Poppy seeds are used primarily for visual appeal rather than taste. They are liberally sprinkled onto breads and desserts to give an attractive finish to the baked goods. Poppy seeds also go well with pasta, and they have a thickening effect in fillings and sauces.
78. Ras el Hanout
Ras el hanout is a blend of spices that was developed in North Africa. There is no definitive recipe, as any of a couple of dozen ingredients may be included in the blend. It is typical for local and regional herbs and spices to be added to any particular mix.
Ras el hanout is used to give robust flavor to meat dishes and rice, and it may also be used as a rub for meat or fish that is to be grilled. Along with its flavor, it also adds a rich golden color.
79. Red Pepper
Red peppers in all their forms are one of the most popular additions to foods of all kinds throughout the world. From sweet red bell peppers to fiery hot chili peppers, there is an almost infinite variety of types and preparations.
Red bell peppers may be eaten raw in salads, diced into soups and meat dishes, and roasted for a delicious smoky-sweet flavor. Ripe red chili peppers can take the flavor up a notch with heat ratings that range from mild to full burn. Chili peppers may also be roasted, or they may be dried and ground into powder. Red pepper can be used alone or be added to one of the many spice blends that are used in ethnic cuisines.
80. Rose Baie
Rose baie is also commonly called rose or pink peppercorn, although it is not truly a member of the peppercorn family. This spice is harvested from a plant that is native to South America.
Pink peppercorns do have a peppery flavor, but they are much milder than true peppercorns. They may be added to recipes that call for pepper, and their lovely pink color makes them particularly suited to being sprinkled on fish. Rose baie even pairs nicely with chocolate.
Saffron has a reputation for being the most precious spice. A native of Southwest Asia, this spice consists of tiny threads pulled from the interior of a flower. It adds a sweet hay-like flavor and, most notably, the classic bright rust color to any dish.
Saffron is used in such characteristic dishes as risotto and paella, and it is popular with cooks in India and the Middle East.
82. Savory Spice
Savory is available in two varieties that can be used for cooking, summer savory and winter savory, but the summer variety is the most popular. Summer savory grows widely in the northern hemisphere.
Savory has a light, sweet flavor that is broadly compatible with a wide variety of foods. It is particularly good with fowl of all kinds and cabbage, although it pairs well with any meat or vegetable dish, soup or stew.
83. Sea Salt
As its name implies, sea salt is derived from sea water. The exact chemical composition and trace elements of sea salt will depend upon the water from which it was extracted.
Sea salt has an intensity and complexity that cooks find appealing. It is often sold in a coarse grind that affects the rate at which it dissolves and the effect is has on the dish. There are many varieties of sea salt, giving the adventurous cook plenty of room to experiment and identify a favorite for every application.
84. Sesame Seeds
Sesame seeds are harvested from plants that are native to Africa. They have a nutty taste and may be found whole, hulled, ground, and as an oil.
Sesame seeds are used extensively in Asian and African dishes. They may be baked into snacks, used to flavor soups, and sprinkled onto salads and meats. Consumers are also used to seeing the seeds on buns, bagels and breads.
Shawarma is an Arab dish that is made of a combination of meats cooked on a grill. The meat is sliced off as it cooks and served in a pita sandwich or on a plate. Shawarma is often flavored with cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamom and may be dressed with tahini. Shawarma is typically served with a variety of vegetables
The sumac tree can be found growing in regions as disparate as Africa and North America. The deep, rust-red fruits of the tree are dried and ground into a bright spice which is also known as sumac.
Sumac gives the taste of lemon when added to foods. Its use varies in different cultures, and it can be used to flavor meats, hummus and rice among other dishes. It can even be combined with sugar and water to make a sweet beverage.
87. Szechuan Peppercorns
Szechuan peppercorns are actually the seed husks of a plant native to Asia and are not related to other spices known as peppercorns. They produce an odd tingly, citrus sensation when eaten that resembles the effect of carbonation.
Szechuan peppercorns are used in traditional meat dishes that range from chicken to yak. They give a spicy flavor to the dish and a numbing sensation to the diner’s mouth. The peppercorns can also be used in baking and may be made into oils for frying.
88. Taco Seasoning
Taco seasoning is a blend of herbs and spices intended for use in the American version of the taco. While the ingredients may vary, all blends have a spicy, peppery flavor.
Most taco seasonings share the ingredients of oregano, chili peppers, black pepper, cumin, garlic and onion. Other spices are added according to the taste of the preparer. The seasoning blend is usually added during the cooking of the meat that will be used for the taco, although some diners also like to sprinkle it on during the assembly of the taco.
Tamarind is the fruit of a tree that is native to Africa. Both the unripe and mature fruit can be used in cooking, as they start out very sour when green and gradually moderate as the fruit ripens.
Because of its “sweet ‘n’ sour” nature, tamarind has a broad range of uses. It may be used in meat dishes and for pickling. The ripe fruit is sweet enough to be used for jams, snacks and desserts.
90. Togarashi Blend
Sometimes called Japanese seven-spice, this spice blend is usually made with sesame seeds, nori, orange peel, ginger and chili peppers, with other ingredients varying across recipes.
Togarashi blended spices have a pleasant nutty taste with just a hint of sourness and heat. This blend is used as a condiment to add flavor to noodles and soups, and it is even delicious sprinkled on popcorn. It is also often used to add a spicy flavor to crackers.
Tsire is a mix of spices that originated in Western Africa. Like most spice blends, the exact ingredients depend upon the region and the preparer, but it generally is made up of peanuts, chili powder, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg.
Tsire is traditionally used to flavor kebabs. The spice mixture is applied as a rub before cooking, and it is allowed to flavor the meats as they grill.
92. Vanilla Beans
Vanilla beans are harvested from orchids that grow in Mexico. While many bakers are familiar with the liquid extract made from vanilla beans, the beans themselves are increasingly available and familiar to the consumer.
The whole vanilla bean is split before use to expose the seeds inside. Occasionally a recipe will call for the bean to be cooked in the dish and removed before serving, but more often the seeds will be scraped into the dish while the outer shell is discarded.
Vanilla beans are most often used to flavor desserts, dairy products and beverages, but they can also add an interesting touch to savory dishes.
The indigenous Australians were the original users of wattleseed, which is harvested from a species of acacia tree. The seeds may be ground into a flour that has properties particularly appealing to diabetics.
Besides flour, wattleseeds are made into flavorings that combine the tastes of hazelnuts, chocolate and coffee. These flavorings are used in ice cream, pastries and hot beverages.
94. White Peppercorns
White peppercorns are the dried ripe fruits of a plant native to India. They come from the same plant as black and green pepper, with the difference being the level of maturity of the fruits when they are harvested.
White pepper has the expected peppery taste, but it is a bit lighter and milder than black pepper. It is often used in creamy sauces, egg dishes, and any light-colored dish where the cook would prefer not to have dark specks of pepper.
Worcestershire sauce was developed in Great Britain and is a fermented concoction of vinegars, sugars and spices. It may be used as an ingredient or a condiment.
Worcestershire sauce is most often used to enhance the flavor of meats and cheeses. It may be added to chilies and stews or dribbled over cuts of meat and burgers at the table. Worcestershire sauce is also a common flavoring for the Bloody Mary cocktail.
A group of Middle Eastern herbs are collectively referred to as Za’atar. These herbs are dried and combined with other ingredients to form an herb and spice mixture that is used in traditional Middle Eastern dishes.
Za’atar is sometimes combined with oil and used as a condiment and dipping sauce for bread. It may also be used to flavor savory dishes and fill breads. Foods to be fried can be rolled in a dry mixture that contains za’atar.
97. Zahtar Spice Mix
This blend of spices from the Middle East is made of salt, sesame seeds, sumac and thyme. It gives a zesty, earthy flavor to meat and vegetable dishes of all kinds. It is also blended with oil to make a paste which is used to dip pita and other breads, and it can be blended with hummus for a delicious spread.