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Spices enhance the taste and smell of food, have medicinal properties, and are an

important part of the complex culinary flavors around the world. Here you will find a
brief description of 25 widely used herbs, condiments and spices.

Allspice – The smell of this spice is a combination of cinnamon, cloves, ginger and
nutmeg. In much of the world, allspice is called pimento Allspice is the only spice
that is grown exclusively in the Western Hemisphere. Allspice is generally a baking
spice, used in cookies, pies and pudding.

Anise – Used in eastern Mediterranean region and Southwest Asia. The flavor
resembles licorice, fennel and tarragon. It is a popular flavoring in meat dishes,
drinks, and candies

Asafoetida – Asafoetida has a pungent, unpleasant smell when raw. When heated in
oil, the taste is like onion. It is a resin that is used widely in Indian cuisine. It has
good digestive and medicinal properties too.

Basil (herb) – Can be used fresh and dried. The leaves have a strong, sweet aroma
and many medicinal uses as well. It is used mainly in South European cuisine. Its
mild flavor often combines with oregano to enhance almost any tomato-based dish.

Bay Leaf – Spice with a strong and warm aroma. The dried leaves are used mainly in
bouquets garnis or soups, sauces, stews, and for meat and poultry. Bay leaf is used
in flavoring many Indian dishes and also in spice powders.

Black pepper – Is a dried fruit, used as a spice and condiment. Peppercorns are used
to make black pepper and white pepper. Black pepper mostly grows in South India
and tropical regions.

Carom – Asian spice with medicinal value, used in stomach ailments. The smell of
the seeds is similar to thyme. This spice is also known as Bishop’s weed.

Cardamom – This spice is in the form of a pod. The two types of cardamom are
green and black. The back variety is usually used only in savory dishes and spice
powders. The green variety has a sweet smell and is widely used in Indian sweets.
This spice has medicinal value too.

Cayenne pepper – Also known as red pepper. It is a hot, red chili pepper used to
flavor dishes and for medicinal purposes. It is generally dried and ground before use
or used as flakes. Cayenne pepper is used in curries and sauces extensively. White
pepper consists of the seed only, with the black skin of the pepper removed. White
pepper is much milder in taste.

Cinnamon – Well-liked spice that is actually the bark of a tree. The smell is sweet
and fragrant and the spice is used in savory and sweet dishes all over the world. It
is widely used in pulaos, curries and garam masalas. Cinnamon is a popular
flavoring in candies and beverages as well.
Clove – This is a spice used in tropical countries. The smell is strong, pungent and
aromatic and the spice is used to extract clove oil, which is used in dental
treatment. Cloves are used in curing and cooking meats and also in Indian cooking.

Coriander – The seeds and leaves are used in cooking many savory dishes. The
leaves are used widely in dishes from India, Mexico and the Middle East. The seeds
are used in powder form in curries.

Cumin – Cumin seeds are similar to fennel and anise seeds in appearance, but are
smaller and darker in color. Mainly used in Indian, Eastern, Middle Eastern, Mexican
and Spanish cookery, it has a good aroma and taste. It is also used as a powder in
gravies and meat dishes. Cumin together with caraway flavours Kummel, the
famous German liquer. Cumin also has many medicinal uses.

Dill (herb and spice) – Both leaves and seeds are aromatic, with use in pickling,
stews, and soups. Its flavor is good for fish and also for baked savory dishes. It is
particularly popular in Russia and Scandinavia. The seeds have medicinal

Fennel – The roots, stalks, seeds and leaves of this plant are used in cookery. It is
mostly grown in Europe, US and India. The smell is fragrant and mildly aromatic.
The leaves are used for fish dishes. The seeds are used to flavour breads, cakes and
confectionery. It is an ingredient of Chinese Five Spices and of some curry powders.
Several liquors are flavored with fennel.

Fenugreek – The seeds and leaves are used. Fenugreek grows in India and southern
Europe. The major use of fenugreek is in Indian curry powders and the hot curries of
Sri Lanka. It is used in chutneys and pickles to impart a unique flavor. The leaves,
both fresh and dried, are used in meat curries, dhal and vegetable dishes and
chutneys. The seeds have medicinal value.

Ginger – This rhizome is both a medicine and spice. It has a sharp and strong taste
and smell. It is sometimes used in the dried form as well. It is mostly used in tropical
cuisine for a variety of meat dishes and curries. This spice has many medical uses.

Mustard – Can be considered a spice and condiment. The seeds are used in cooking
and there are many varieties of mustard available all over the world. The taste is
sharp and fiery. It is used as a pickling spice and for cooking meats and seafood. In
India, whole seeds are fried in ghee until the seed pops, producing a milder nutty
flavour that is useful as a garnish or seasoning.

Nutmeg – The nutmeg tree gives two spices, mace and nutmeg. Nutmeg is the seed
kernel inside the fruit and mace is the lacy covering (aril) on the kernel. Nutmeg is
used in pies, puddings, custards, cookies and spice cakes due to its sweet
fragrance. It works well with cheese, potatoes, eggs, and some meat dishes. Mace is
milder than nutmeg.
Oregano (herb) – It grows widely in Greece and Mediterranean countries. The flavor
is strong and pungent and this spice is related to marjoram, which is milder.
Oregano is used in pizzas and also in many Mexican dishes. The essential oil of
oregano is used in food products, cosmetics, and liqueurs.

Parsley (herb) – Parsley is used mainly in the west for savory dishes. It is added to
soups, salads, sauces, eggs and several vegetable dishes.

Rosemary(herb) – Strongly aromatic herb with slightly bitter leaves. Rosemary is a

popular spice in many Mediterranean countries, especially Italy and Southern
France. Used in meat dishes and stocks.

Star Anise – Used in South Asian, Southeast Asian, and East Asian dishes, it may be
used as a substitute for anise. Star anise is commonly used in the making of liquor
(Galliano), Sambuca, pastis, and absinthe. It is also used in Indian cuisine.

Thyme (herb) – Strong-smelling herb, used in Arab, Italian, French, and Turkish
cuisines and in those derived from them. It is popularly used to flavor stocks, and
soups. This herb has many medicinal uses too.

Turmeric – A bright yellow spice powder that is actually a rhizome. It has antiseptic
and healing properties. It is mostly used in Indian, Persian, Thai and Malay dishes.
This spice also has many ceremonial uses in Indian culture.