Get Creative with Spice: Experiment Your Food With Flavor Secrets And More.
Written by Green Jeeva on
20 Feb, 2023
“Vegetables, herbs, and spices. If you can combine those ingredients, that would be the best dish you’d ever cook!” ~ Rinrin Marinka.
Spice is “a seed, fruit, root, bark, or other plant substance primarily used for flavoring, coloring, or preserving food.”
Spices are distinguished from herbs, the leaves, flowers, or stems of plants used for flavoring or as a garnish. According to ancient medicine, spices have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antiviral properties.
Spices are used in medicine as well as in cooking. They are known to have several properties that are beneficial to human health.
Spices Are Historic
Around 9000 BC, settlements in the Indus Valley and Mesopotamia from Judea to Egypt’s Nile Valley began using spices in food, medicine, and cosmetics. Organic herbs & spices were initially used as food preservatives by humans. They soon discovered that many of these plants aided in the treatment of wounds, aches, and other common ailments.
- Unlike in the past, when monopolies dominated the spice trade, the spice trade is now relatively decentralized.
- Spices and herbs are frequently used in cuisine around the world to enhance flavor and introduce new flavors.
- Spices can be found everywhere, including in space: spices were added to astronaut food for the United States space shuttle program in 1982.
- The information age (mid-twentieth century) heralded a new era of global cuisine sharing.
- Curious home cooks are increasingly preparing meals from various ethnic backgrounds with an expanding array of spices.
- According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), spice consumption in the United States has increased exponentially over the last half-century, with spices such as ginger and chili pepper being used more frequently than ever.
There is also renewed interest in the medicinal properties of spices and herbs.
According to 2015 data, 5-10% of adults in the United States use botanical supplements for health benefits, such as spices.
“Spices and herbs can help flavor foods while reducing added sugars, saturated fat, and sodium, and they can also `add to the enjoyment of nutrient-dense foods, dishes, and meals that reflect specific cultures,” according to the 2020-2025 US Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
Why do we season our food with spices?
So, here’s a list of reasons why we use spices in our cooking:
- Spices improve the flavor and taste of food.
- Spices are nutritious.
- Spices aid in food preservation.
Here are some commonly used spices in cuisines all over the world:
- Black Pepper
- Black Cardamom
- Cumin seeds
- Chilli Pepper
- Coriander powder
- Curry Leaves
Ten ways to savor additional flavors.
- Use ginger, chamomile, or peppermint to make a warm, comforting tea.
- Combine turmeric and ginger in a warm glass of plant-based milk to create “golden milk.”
- Add turmeric to stews and sautéed veggies.
- Use ice cube trays, olive oil, and herbs to freeze oregano, rosemary, basil, and thyme. Then, place the tray in the freezer.
- Fenugreek seeds can be added to oatmeal and smoothies.
- Sprinkle freshly cooked rice with chopped parsley or coriander or add it to your salads.
- Cinnamon should be sprinkled on the cereal.
- Add cayenne, black pepper, or minced garlic to omelets or scrambled eggs to improve them.
Let’s dig deep into the most used spices.
This ancient spice is a potent antioxidant and has a long history of medical use. The distinctive therapeutic properties of cinnamon are attributed to the bark’s potent essential oils.
- Use a cinnamon stick as a stirrer in coffee, tea, or hot cocoa, or add it to a stew with meat.
- On cereal, squash, rice pilaf, and oatmeal, sprinkle a little ground cinnamon.
- Apples, bananas, melons, and oranges can also be sprinkled with cinnamon and brown sugar.
Researchers have noted for 30 years the frequency of chronic disease among individuals who consumed turmeric more than those who didn’t. They have also noted that curry powder contains a significant amount of turmeric, an essential ingredient in Asian cuisine.
- Cooking rice calls for 1/4 teaspoon of water.
- Before cooking vegetables in a pan or stirring a stir-fry, add a half teaspoon to the oil.
- Chili, chicken soup, or potato soup all need a dash.
- Mix the ingredients and pour over roasted cauliflower to make a nice egg salad.
- Sprinkle a little seasoning on popcorn or other snack mixtures to add a fresh flavor.
Ginger is a popular flavoring in cakes, cookies, bread, and beverages. It’s also tasty in sauces and fruit dishes and popular in Asian cuisine.
- Suck on one to two pieces of crystallized ginger for motion sickness.
- Grate fresh ginger over cooked vegetables or tofu, or sprinkle with powdered ginger.
- Stir-fry with sliced ginger.
- Rub ground ginger into meat before grilling to help tenderize and flavor it.
- steep a coin-size piece of fresh ginger into your tea to help tenderize and flavor it.
- Sprinkle acorn squash or sweet potatoes with ground ginger and brown sugar before baking.
Coriander, also known as Chinese parsley, is derived from the coriander plant’s sweet, nutty seeds (not to be confused with cilantro, an herb that comes from the strongly scented leaves of the coriander plant).
- In a peppermill, combine coriander seed and peppercorn.
- Coriander can be coarsely ground and rubbed into meats or fish before cooking, adding to the flavor secrets.
- Season stews, casseroles, marinades, vinaigrettes, and pickled dishes with whole or ground seeds.
Nutmeg is an evergreen tropical tree native to eastern Indonesia’s Molucca or Spice Islands. “Nutmeg” means “musky” and refers to a fragrance. Nutmeg is high in aromatic oils, minerals (copper, potassium, calcium, manganese, iron, zinc, magnesium), B-group vitamins, and flavonoids, which are potent antioxidants.
- It goes well with both savory and sweet dishes; it is best to add it at the end of the cooking process because heat weakens the aroma.
The Bottom Line
Spices are an essential part of our daily diet and have a long history. It’s easier to envision a single meal with spice in it. They have been used for thousands of years for flavor enhancement, health benefits, and food preservation.
Spices, in a nutshell, are the essence of life, balancing flavors from everyday ingredients and elevating them to an entirely new flavor profile while serving our dietary needs and promoting wellness.