Top 10 Spices of the world

The Ten Best Spices for Healthy Cooking

For an easy and guilt-free way to add flavor to any recipe, use food spices. Even the smallest amount of the top spice of your choice can transform a dish from blah to ta-da! Let this spice list show you how to use the best spices to add tons of flavor without adding calories.

Black Pepper
Crisp, slightly spicy and unbelievably versatile, it is no small wonder that black pepper is the most common spice in the world. Black pepper is great way to add a touch of heat and a bright aroma to just about any sort of savory application, from eggs and salads to rice and beef. To get the most flavor out of black pepper, freshly grind whole peppercorns using a pepper mill.

Cinnamon
Cinnamon is one of the best spices around because of its surprising versatility. One of the more potent of the essential spices, only a little cinnamon is needed to bring its trademark dense and rich flavor to a dish. Classically associated in the list of spices used in dessert, cinnamon is a great addition to savory rice and Indian dishes.

Cumin
Another popular food spice, cumin has a rich smoky flavor that works well in a variety of dishes, particularly Mexican and Indian recipes. Cumin is one of the best spices for cooking because it can be added to a wide variety of recipes.

Coriander
Coriander is one of the most unique spices in that, when this seed is planted, it becomes the herb cilantro. However, considering coriander brings a bright, warm, almost citrus flavor to a dish, the seed tastes nothing like the herb. Coriander works best in a recipe as a contrast to the heavier smokey flavor of cumin or as a compliment to orange and lemon flavors.

Cloves
Extremely aromatic and slightly sweet, cloves are the top spice that contributes to the distinctive smell of Indian food. Cloves, whether whole or crushed, have a strong flavor and are best used in small amounts. Sprinkle a pinch of crushed cloves in your coffee or tea to add a bright chai flavor.

Spices have been brought to our kitchens from all over the world throughout history, and are used by all different kinds of people to make food taste better. You are an immigrant and have brought your own traditional spices to your new life in the US. If you have run out of a certain spice, you can order it online as well.

For more spice information, look at this comprehensive encyclopedia of spices.

History of spices

Spices such as cinnamon, cassia, cardamom, ginger, and turmeric were known, and used for commerce, in the Eastern World well into antiquity.These spices found their way into the Middle East before the beginning of the Common Era, where the true sources of these spices was withheld by the traders, and associated with fantastic tales. The Egyptians had traded in the Red Sea, importing spices from the “Land of Punt” and from Arabia. Luxury goods traded along the Incense Route included Indian spices, ebony, silk and fine textiles. The spice trade was associated with overland routes early on but maritime routes proved to be the factor which helped the trade grow. The Ptolemaic dynasty had developed trade with India using the Red Sea ports.

With the establishment of Roman Egypt, the Romans further developed the already existing trade. The Roman-Indian routes were dependent upon techniques developed by the maritime trading power, Kingdom of Axum (ca 5th century BC–AD 11th century) which had pioneered the Red Sea route before the 1st century. When they encountered Rome (circa 30 BC– 10 AD) they shared with Roman merchants knowledge of riding the seasonal monsoons of the Arabian Sea, keeping a cordial relationship with one another until the mid-7th century.

As early as 80 BC, Alexandria became the dominant trading center for Indian spices entering the Greco-Roman world. Indian ships sailed to Egypt. The thriving maritime routes of Southern Asia were not under the control of a single power,[9] but through various systems eastern spices were brought to the major spice trading ports of India such as Barbaricum, Barygaza, Muziris, Korkai, Kaveripattinam, and Arikamedu.

According to The Cambridge History of Africa (1975):
“The trade with Arabia and India in incense and spices became increasingly important, and Greeks for the first time began to trade directly with India. The discovery, or rediscovery, of the sea-route to India is attributed to a certain Eudoxos, who was sent out for this purpose towards the end of the reign of Ptolemy Euergetes II (died 116 BC). Eudoxos made two voyages to India, and subsequently, having quarrelled with his Ptolemaic employers, perished in an unsuccessful attempt to open up an alternative sea route to India, free of Ptolemaic control, by sailing around Africa. The establishment of direct contacts between Egypt and India was probably made possible by a weakening of Arab power at this period, for the Sabaean kingdom of South-western Arabia collapsed and was replaced by Himyarite Kingdom around 115 BC. Imports into Egypt of cinnamon and other eastern spices, such as pepper, increased substantially, though the Indian Ocean trade remained for the moment on quite a small scale, no more than twenty Egyptian ships venturing outside the Red Sea each year.

Courtesy: Wikipedia

Indian Spices

Indian Spices

Spices and aromatics are the very heart of Indian cooking. They have been used since ancient times. They were mentioned in the ancient Hindu scriptures called the Vedas, ancient Egyptian papyruses and the Old Testament. Although it was not until the Roman conquests that western counties discovered their culinary possibilities, spices have always been believed to have healing and magical qualities. They have been used to cast spells, as incense in religious rites, to embalm corpses, to add aroma to perfumes and as aphrodisiacs. The word spice comes from Latin species, meaning a commodity of value and distinction. During their long and fascinating history, spices have often been more valuable than gold or precious stones, and the trade of spices has been an extraordinarily influential factor in history.

Many researchers have attempted to explain why hot spices are pleasant to taste. It seems the burning sensation is the pain of nerve endings on the tongue. This releases endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers, giving rise to pleasurable and even euphoric sensations.

Flowers, leaves, roots, bark, seeds and bulbs (the simplest of natural ingredients) are used in endless combinations to produce an infinite variety of flavors: sweet, sharp, hot, sour, spicy, aromatic, tart, mild, fragrant or pungent. Their tastes and aromas combine to create a kaleidoscope of exotic flavors to delight the plate. It is best to obtain spices in whole seed form and to grind them just prior to use.
Indian spices spices offer significant health benefits and contribute towards an individual’s healthy life. They add flavor and nutrients to dishes without fat or calories!
Understanding the health benefits of each ingredient is key to optimizing home cooked meals for the particular needs of the family.

Asafoetida (Hing) – also known as devil’s dung. It is a resin taken from a plant from the parsley family. It is a distinctive and pungent spice. It is most commonly found in powdered form. When cooked, it has a truffle-like flavor and a roasted garlic aroma. It is used mainly for its digestive properties, especially in the cooking of beans and lentils, as it is reputed to have antiflatulence properties. Asafoetida is an important ingredient of the snack called cheewra – a mixture of grains, dried fruits, and spices. It can be added to flavor fish and vegetable dishes. A pinch of it can be fried in hot oil before the rest of the ingredients are cooked.
Buy Asafoetida – Powder, 2.3 oz

Bay leaves – these fragrant leaves with pointed ends are used in their dried form. These are used in curries and rice preparations.

Cardamom (Elaichi) -Elettaria Cardamomum is the seed of a tropical fruit in the ginger family. Fruits and seeds leave pleasant aroma with sweet, pungent taste behind when chewed. Cardamom has a sweet, lemony, eucalyptus flavor. It is world’s second most expensive spice. It is available as a powder, dried pods, or loose seeds. Green cardamoms are the most common, but there are also black and cream varieties. It is one of India’s favorite spices, used in curries, savory and sweet dishes, ice cream and custards. It is often combined with almonds and saffron. It can be used to flavor tea and also is great with black coffee. It is used in Ayurvedic medicine to remove fat and as a cure for urinary and skin complaints. Egyptians chewed cardamoms to whiten their teeth and simultaneously sweeten their breath. The seeds are aromatic, sweet cooling, carminative (cures flatulence), digestive, stimulant and tonic. Cardamom finds usage in indigestion, anorexia, burning sensation, debility, asthma.

For more information, please visit: indianfoodsite.com

African Spices

African spices are an integral part of every African meal. For their African food recipes, you can help the newly married couple start stocking on some of these essential kitchen items. Spices native to Africa typically tend to have very distinctive tastes and fragrances. Most are derived from plants but we also sometimes re-purpose certain animals that typically have strong and distinctive flavors and use them for even more flavoring of our foods.

But alas, I can hear you asking yourself the question… “Is giving African spices an appropriate wedding present?” Well actually, for the African couple it is! We love our food, just ask any African woman or man… and if the couple is located anywhere outsideof their native homeland, then receiving these spices will be a very welcome gift.

Additionally, by tradition, in most African cultures kitchen and household items are very often given as gifts. Most of these compromise of livestock and foodstuff but since the giving of cattle, sheep, goats and/or herds of other sorts may not be very feasible in weddings outside of an African village… trust me, spices used for African foods will make a great and affordable gifts. They will also be good companion gifts to African cook books.

Please note that the items offered on this page are primarily Fair Trade products grown and harvested by local farmers. The accessories are handmade and handcrafted by local artisans. By purchasing Fair Trade products, you support the farmers who grow these items and the artisans who make them, as well as their families.

For more information, please visit: africanweddingtraditions.com

Mexican Spices

Mexican Spices and Herbs

Why are spices so unique and loved in Mexico? Herbs and spices are essential to every day foods because dishes would be dull and bland without spices. In Mexican cuisine it is precisely its herbs and spices that make the meals special, and stand out above all others, otherwise without them, dishes would be boring and ordinary. Spanish conquistadors where the first to introduce herbs and spices in Mexico when they first arrived in the Aztec capital Tenochtitlan which is now Mexico City. The Spaniards discovered that the Aztec’s diet consisted mainly of dishes that were made with corn, chiles and herbs as well as tomatoes, nopales and beans. Other foods found in their diet were tomatillos, avocado, mamey, vanilla, chocolate, jicama, pineapple, squash, sapote, guava, peanuts, huitlacoche, sweet potato, turkey and fish. When the conquistadors invaded Mexico they not only brought horses, cattle, sheep, goats, chickens and pigs, but they also introduced new fruits, barley, wheat, rice, almonds, wine, olive oil, as well as parsley, oregano, coriander, black pepper and other spices. The indigenous cuisine was then enhanced by the fusion of Mexican and Spanish cuisine giving birth to all the delicious dishes we savor today.

Use of Spices in the Mexican Cuisine

Mexican dishes get their flavors and aromas that are highly treasured in Mexican cuisine, from the herbs and spices that they are made with. Mexican cuisine is known for its unique flavors, indigenous herbs and spices, as well as colorful decorations. Mexican dishes are prepared with sufficient amount of herbs and spices, which include seeds and leaves of aromatic plants. Almost all Mexican dishes contain spices such as garlic and garlic powder that can be found anywhere, but there are other spices that are more rare. Epazote is one of those rare spices, used to give flavor to foods like beans.Chile powder is an essential and inseparable seasoning in Mexican cuisine used in a variety of dishes and recipes like meat, poultry, stews, vegetable dishes and salsas. Chili powder is a mixture of dried and ground chiles along with other spices that are sometimes added. There a various types of chile powders, which give a different flavor to dishes and are used in various recipes. Other chile powders include Chipotle and Ancho chili, as well as the popular green chili powder or pasilla chili powder. Chili powders sold in stores are made with spices like garlic, oregano, cumin, salt, and coriander. Other common spices used in Mexican dishes, besides chili powder include oregano and cumin; oregano goes well with foods that have tomatoes because of its rich earthy flavor, while cumin with its toasty, somewhat bitter taste gives Mexican dishes a unique, irreplaceable flavor. Cinnamon, anise and cloves also add incredible and unsurpassable flavors to Mexican dishes. Cocoa is another key ingredient in Mexican cuisine because it adds a rich warm flavor to numerous dishes. The thick sauce served over chicken or turkey known as Mole, is made with a mixture of chiles and spices combined with small amounts of cocoa to give it its rich brown color and flavor.

Courtesy: MexGrocer.com