Popular Herbs and Spices for Cooking

Spices and herbs help the flavour of food come alive and with thousands of recipes available to all of us it is helpful to know which spices and herbs belong to various cultures. It is interesting,and delicious,to cook food from cultures other than our own.

Below are some of the most popular spices and herbs.

ITALIAN COOKING HERBS

Italian cooking is largely based on fresh herbs which are essential for authenticity. These herbs can be found in most grocery stores or are easy to grow in your own herb garden. 

Flat leaf parsley

Oregano

Rosemary ( Woody stem. Simply pull the leaves off by stripping each twig with your fingers )

Basil ( Usually Sweet Italian Large Leaf Basil )

Fennel seeds ( Toasted and added to sausages and other meats such as lamb )

Fresh garlic

Sage ( Grows like a weed in a sunny garden . Use with potatoes, peasant chicken stews, veal or lamb )

Bay leaves ( Add to soups, stews etc. Discard after cooking )

Many of these herbs are used together in tomato based sauces or on their own in salad dressings and soups.

MEXICAN CHILI POWDER INGREDIENTS

The chili powder you buy ready mixed in the store may be old and tasteless. You can make your own chili powder by using these spices which are also used on their own in many Mexican recipes.

Paprika

Ground cumin

Dried oregano

Cayenne pepper

Garlic powder

You can also add chipotle pepper or ground ancho pepper for more depth and heat to chili powder, salsa and beans.

INDIAN CURRY POWDER INGREDIENTS

Again, the curry powder you buy in tins may be dated and render an Indian dish insipid while the flavours should be vibrant and inviting.The following ingredients can be used to make a homemade curry powder and are also used in other Indian dishes.Frequently, the seeds are lightly toasted to bring out their natural oils.

Red chilies

Coriander seeds

Cumin seeds

Mustard seeds

Black peppercorns

Cardamom pods

Ground nutmeg

Curry leaves

Ground ginger

Turmeric

Cloves

Cinnamon

FRENCH COOKING

Basic French cooking has lovely savory flavors. Traditional French cuisine has been heralded for years as the Grand Dame of the culinary world and played a notable role in “fusion” cooking.

The following fresh herbs are the ones most used in soups, salads and main courses from fish to veal.

Tarragon

Thyme

Rosemary

Sage

Parsley ( curly and flat leaf )

Chervil

Marjoram

Chives

EASTERN EUROPEAN COOKING

Whether we are talking about goulash or dumplings, veal stews or cabbage soups, fresh and dried dill have their part to play. Lively red paprika is usually very present in many Eastern European dishes.

Paprika can be sweet, sharp or smoked. Smoked paprika is also a large part of Spanish cooking and adds a woodsy pleasant flavor to chicken, soups and saffron-infused rice dishes.

ASIAN COOKING

There are so many different herbs used in Asian cooking due to the fact there are many different regions in Asia that all have their distinct flavors.

Some of the basic Asian flavours come from the following spices and herbs.

Garlic

Ginger ( fresh )

Chilies ( red and green )

Star Anise

Peppercorns ( red and black )

Basil ( Thai basil, red leaf basil and many others )

Mint ( fresh )

Chinese chives

Lemon grass

Garlic shoots

( NOTE: 1 TABLESPOON OF FRESH HERBS IS EQUAL TO 1 TEASPOON DRIED HERBS )

This a a partial list of popular herbs and spices and their corresponding ethnic or cultural cuisines. Many herbs and spices often overlap international boundaries. With a bit of reading and experimenting you will decide which popular spices and herbs you like the best.