Here is an A-Z of spices and some spice facts to help you when making choices in your cooking.
Also called the Jamaican Pepper, these are the dried unripe berries of a particular caribbean tree. The name refers to the fact that the flavour and aroma is said to be reminiscent of a mix of cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg.
Aniseed is a highly fragrant plant similar in flavour to liquorice and fennel. The seeds are a key flavouring ingredient in German Pfeffernüsse.
Not at all nice smelling when raw, once cooked it takes on a sweet mild flavour similar to lightly fried onions. Often added to lentil based dishes in Asia due to its supposed anti-flatulent effects.
A seed popularly used in central europe to flavour breads, soups and stews.
Green Cardamom pods are generally thrown whole into curries to add a unique flavour that is equally pleasant in drinks and sweets as it is in fiery dishes. Black Cardamom is a related but differently flavoured pod that has a very smokey taste. One of the more interesting spices due to the many layers of flavour the impart to cooking.
One of the classic ingredients of the Chinese Five Spice Mix. Cassia is also sometimes sold as cinnamon. Both are similar but quite distinct.
A huge family of peppers which can run from deliciously sweet and mild vegetables that are eaten raw, through tangy pimentoes, fiery birds eye chilies and red hot scotch bonnets. Far hotter chilies are used in pepper spray, so they are a rare example of a foodstuff that is also a weapon.
A sweet warming spice, in western europe Cinnamon, along with nutmeg is a flavour redolent of the christmas holidays. In Asia it has been a staple ingredient of curries for many hundreds of years.
The strong and pungent dried buds of an asia flower. Cloves have been used (sparingly) since before Roman times.
Good strong slightly acidic flavoured seeds, often ground to a powder.
Essential ingredient of many Indian Curries.
Reaching the letter F in our Alphabetical list of Spices we find Fenugreek which is good with fish and is one of the few spices that was grown in the west and shipped East from Europe to Asia in antiquity.
A root with citrus like qualities, often found in East Asian dishes.
Not a spice in tself, but a classic mix of spices used in many Asian dishes. The actual ingredients vary, but the core ingredient list is bay leaves, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, cumin and peppercorns.
Beloved the world over, with thousands of cullinary uses, the fiery ginger root is a fantastic spice.
The slightly bitter seed cone of the Juniper tree is the key flavouring ingredient of Gin. Also used as a flavuoring ingredient for a large number of European meat dishes, in particular strong game meat pairs well with the piney juniper berry.
Kaffir Lime Leaves
A key Thai food ingredient, Kaffir lime leaves can be used fresh or dried, and can be frozen for storage.
Another Thai and South East Asian speciality, Lemon grass can be woody in texture, but as the name suggests, imparts a lemon-like flavour that is essential to a number of classic dishes of the region.
Grows well in temperate regions, the Liquorice Root is black in colour and has a strong sweet flavour that is enjoyed in confectionary as well as cookery.
Good strongly flavoured spice from dried outer covering of the fruits that also give us nutmeg.
Fiery flavour from seeds of the mustard plant. Must be used sparingly as too much mustard, like chili causes physical pain.
The freshly ground nutmeg has a totally unique aroma that adds a special kick to a number of classic dishes in both eastern and western cookery styles.
This sweet red powder is actually a particular capsicum pepper that has been dried and ground. Particularly well liked in Hungary and Central Europe where it is a key flavour of classic recipes such as Goulasch.
The opium poppy is the source of the poppy seeds used in cookery. Their flavour is sweet and nutty and this combined with the texture or tiny round beads makes them well loved as a topping on breads and cakes as well as an ingredient in many curry recipes.
Pretty star-shaped fruits of the Illicium verum bush, these asian favourites produce a similar flavour to fennel and liuquorice.
Also known as Indian Saffron, this spice has a slightly bitter, slightly peppery flavor. It also makes a strong yellow dye (as many cooks will know) and is a staple of Indian cuisine.
We hope you liked this alphabetical list of spices. You may also be interested to see our alphabetical list of vegetables.