It´s just having the confidence to pick the right ones and experiment, turning a plain grilled fish or a simple roast meat dish into something that will delight your tastebuds.
Whereas herbs are generally used fresh, spices are dried and usually ground into a powder. Here are a few of the most common spices that should be in every kitchen cupboard.
|All Spice - Pimienta de Jamaica, Pimienta gorda; Pimienta dulce, Guayabita (S. America)|
Its not a combination of spices, but the dried berry of an evergreen. It is used quite a lot in pickling and in marinades for dishes such as soused herrings or mackerel. Traditionally allspice is used in cakes, fruit pies and puddings.
|Black Pepper Pimienta Negra|
Black pepper comes from the berries of the pepper plant. A pinch of ground black pepper is added to almost every type of recipe imaginable. Whole, coarse or ground it can be used alone or in combination with other spices and is much loved all over the world for spicy meat stews, steaks, sauces and all kind of vegetable dishes.
|Cinnamon - Canela|
A strongly aromatic and sweet spice derived from the bark of evergreen trees. It is most often used to flavour cakes and puddings, but can also work wonders in stews and sauces. In the Middle East it is often used in savoury dishes of chicken and lamb.
|Cumin - Comino, Comino blanco|
Cumin is the key component in both Chili Powder and Curry Powder, and is one of the main spices used in Mexican, Thai, Vietnamese and Indian cuisines. Cumin seeds are oblong in shape with a nutty, peppery flavour that packs a punch. The combination of cumin, black pepper and honey makes a tasty flavour for vegetables, chicken and fish dishes.
|Ginger - Jengibre|
Fresh ginger, a knotted, beige, underground stem, has a strong, aromatic, spicy flavour and is essential to Asian and Oriental cookery. Its used in pickles, chutneys and curry pastes. It can be chopped and fried with garlic or onion to make a basis for delicious sauces. In Western cuisine, however, ginger is traditionally used in sweet foods such as gingerbread, ginger cake and ginger biscuits. Mmmmm!
|Sesame - Ajonjolí, Sésamo|
Sesame seeds are tiny, flat oval seeds found in the pods of a tropical plant and have a nutty, earthy taste. It is commonly sprinkled whole over cakes and breads, but in the Middle East the seeds are ground and pressed into blocks with the addition of various sweet or nutty ingredients to produce confectionery such as halva. In Mediterranean areas it is used to flavour humus, kebab sauce and is often mixed with lemon and garlic to made a tasty bread dip. Sesame oil is also excellent for everything from salads to sautéing.
|Saffron - Azafrán|
Renowned for its exquisite flavour, heady arroma and deep colour, saffron is the defining ingredient in paella, and other popular rice dishes. Threads picked from the crocus flower are ground into a vibrant yellow powder and can be a splendid addition to almost any chicken, vegetable or fish dish. The famous Spanish Paella would not have its distinguishing yellow colour if not for saffron.
Vanilla - Vainilla