A Lineage Guide to Aromatic Spices from Around the World
Some of our fondest memories begin with the sights and smells of our grandmother’s kitchen and a feast shared with a table full of family members. When homesickness sets in, we like to break out our most cherished recipes (the one written on a stained recipe card) and create a meal that brings us back to a time when the world seemed cozy, safe, and effortless.
The scents of our childhood are reminiscent of good days past, and those scents are often deeply-rooted in the spices that were used to flavour our dishes. These spices and flavours are not only a way to travel back in time, but to travel across the world in a time when travel has been limited.
We believe that utilizing the right spice to perfect your delectable dish is essential in the kitchen of any chef, amateur or not. So today we are excited to feature spices from around the world to help inspire you to create dishes, new and old, that are filled with depth, flavour and comforting aromas.
This deep mustard tinted spice is used to provide vibrant colour to curries, rices and scrambles and imparts a slightly earthy, pungently bitter flavour to a dish. Native to India and used in many of their dishes, turmeric is a multifaceted spice that is also utilized for medicinal purposes. It’s considered a powerful nutritional supplement that helps with digestive issues and can even lower your risk of heart disease.
Turmeric is also used in a marital tradition in Indian households known as the ‘Haldi Ceremony.’ The spice is used to create a paste that is then spread on the bride and groom before their marriage ceremony. The yellow colour of the turmeric is said to bring prosperity to the newly married couple, who are just starting their lives together.
Paprika originates in Central Mexico, however most paprika around the world comes from Hungary and Spain. In fact, Hungary’s national dish, Goulash, heavily features paprika, which gives it a smoky and savoury flavour. Try this recipe from Spend with Pennies to recreate your own authentic Hungarian Goulash. Pair with some fresh bread served on our bread plate to soak up that delicious goulash goodness.
Cumin has a warm, earthy flavour and tangy musky scent, which helps to add flavour to chilli, meats, and marinades. Syrian cuisine frequently uses cumin in their meals, and uses it in their national dish, Kibbeh — a ground lamb meat patty deliciously seasoned with spices and onions.
A key ingredient in Kibbeh uses a unique spice blend called Baharat, which combines the strong flavour of cumin with other spices such as cinnamon, coriander, cloves, allspice and peppers. This Syrian national dish is served at many family gatherings, and encourages nostalgia with the warm spicy scent wafting through the house on any major holiday.
Cumin is a staple in Syrian households, much the same as salt and pepper is to North American households. Often you’ll find cumin in a shaker on the table in Syrian homes or restaurants.
Native to the Mediterranean, fennel seeds boast a warm, sweet, aromatic scent that smells like licorice. Fennel is one of those great additions to pasta sauces and many Italian dishes feature fennel seeds to infuse sweet flavouring into the rich pasta sauce, or add a sultry hit of flavour to cooked and cured meats. Fennel lends itself to other cultures' cuisines as well, making an appearance in many Middle Eastern dishes or in this recipe for Limpa Rye Bread from Sweden.
BERBERE SPICE BLEND
The Ethiopian New Year, known as Enkutatash, is a time of year that is seen as a period for family and communities, where past grievances are forgotten and a shared collective experience is embraced. Gatherings such as Enkutatash are highlighted by the delicious dishes prepared, many utilizing the Berbere spice blend. As with so many traditional seasoning blends, what goes into berbere can vary by region, town and by household. However, you can typically find a combination of chilli peppers, coriander, garlic, ginger, Ethiopian basil, korarima, rue, ajwain or radhuni, nigelle and fenugreek in this spice mix.
Ethiopians will usually cook Doro Wat as a go to meal during many of their celebrations and holidays. Doro Wat is a chicken stew made with a mixture of Berbere, ethiopian clarified butter, eggs, onions and chicken parts. The key to a good Doro Wat is having just the right amount of Berbere, and slow cooking the onions to the point of caramelization, around 30-45 minutes. We promise this dish is worth the wait.
Suya is a dry, peanut-based spice rub native to West Africa. It imparts a smoky, nutty flavour that reveals delectable, savoury umami tones in all the foods it frequents. Suya is the main spice incorporated into Nigerian suya beef skewers, which is a popular street food in West Africa. It’s a spicy skewer that is often served with sides of fresh tomatoes and sliced red onion. One of these skewers is street food at its finest.
With its smoky flavour it is no secret that syua is popular as a rub on grilled meats. However, if you’re looking for another way to incorporate this spice into your cooking, try adding suya to your grilled or slow- roasted vegetables for that extra kick.
Finally, we end on Cardamom, a delicious spice used to flavour many foods and is incorporated into cuisines around the world — Indian, Middle Eastern, Arabic and Swedish — just to name a few.
One of the most delicious uses of cardamom is actually in a drink, not a dish. That’s right. Next time you need to add a little spice to your day, try incorporating some cardamom into your coffee. There are a few ways to enjoy cardamom in your morning brew, either by grinding whole pods up with your coffee beans, or simply dropping a pod into the mug and pouring the coffee over it.
Either way, your coffee will be infused with a sweet, peppery floral flavour that will be a treat to your taste buds early in the morning. Add a splash of cream and a dash of sweetener to round out the delicious nodes of spice in this coffee. Enjoy this scrumptious concoction in our Coffee Cup, from our recently added Coffee Collection.
In addition to coffee, cardamom is an expected surprise when added to hot cider, mulled wine and eggnog. Step up your holiday celebrations by adding a bit of this spice into your traditional drinks for that extra zest.
We hope that our highlight of these fragrant spices have inspired you to hop back in time to the scents of your childhood to recreate delicious dishes and libations suitable for any gathering. Our Ramekins and Sauce Dishes are the perfect vessel to house any spice or sauce necessary to cultivate the most impeccable cuisine.
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