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The OPIHR Spice Tour Encyclopedia

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BLACK LEMON

Black lemons are actually dried limes! They're used in the Middle East as a souring agent in chutneys, soups and stews, and even ground into flatbreads. The powder made from black lemons has a sweet-tart flavour that is unique and has no substitute. Try it in your next stew or soup: simply pierce them with a paring knife, then add to your dish - the cooking will take care of the rest.

CARDAMOM

Cardamom presents a pungent mixture of camphor, citrus and subtle floral notes that combine to create a heady flavour experience. The volatile flavours diminish quickly once cardamom seeds are ground. Use freshly ground cardamom seed for Turkish coffee, tea cakes, or sweetmeats.

CINNAMON

Cinnamon is a spice obtained from the inner bark of several tree species. Cinnamon is used mainly as an aromatic condiment and flavouring additive in a wide variety of cuisines, sweet and savoury dishes. The aroma and flavour of cinnamon derive from its essential oil.

CLOVES

The compelling flavour of cloves is warm and tingly, and leaves a lingering aftertaste. Cloves should always be used with a very light hand, whether alone or in combination. The intense flavours can easily overpower a dish, but are lost quickly when cloves are ground. Keep only a small quantity on hand and grind as needed.

CORIANDER

Coriander is an aromatic plant in the parsley family. The fresh leaves of the plant are commonly called cilantro or Chinese parsley, and have a strong citrus-like flavour. The dried seeds are used whole or ground as a spice in European, Asian, Latin, and Indian dishes.

CUBEB

Cubeb is a plant cultivated for its fruit and essential oil. It is mostly grown in Java and Sumatra, and can be known as the Java pepper. The fruits are gathered before they are ripe, and then carefully dried. The odour of cubeb is aromatic and the taste is pungent and slightly bitter. Cubeb came to Europe via India and it continues to be used as a flavouring agent used in the West and a key seasoning ingredient for food in Indonesia.

STAR ANISE

This pretty, star-shaped spice has an intensely sweet licorice taste and smell, offering a notable counter-point of flavour. It has many uses both alone and in combination. Star anise pairs beautifully with sweet potatoes and pumpkin, and offers a unique addition to caramelised onions. Star anise is a key ingredient in Chinese Five Spice, and flavours the beef stock for the Vietnamese soup, pho.

SUMAC

There is nothing else like it. The deep red wine-coloured sumac berry is ground and dried to impart a tart, lemony flavour with a refreshing complexity. Sumac’s traditional usage in Middle Eastern cuisine sees it added to everything from meat rubs and kebabs to yogurt dips.

SZECHUAN PEPPERCORNS

Szechuan pepper is a spice commonly used in the Sichuan cuisine of China's southwestern Sichuan Province. When eaten it produces a tingling, numbing effect due to the presence of hydroxy-alpha sanshool in the peppercorn. Szechuan Pepper is a spicy, peppery and citrusy go-to essential for adding delicious flavour to a variety of Asian dishes. Perfect for stir fries, soups and vegetable side dishes like cabbage, cucumbers and aubergine.

NUTMEG

Nutmeg is the seed or ground spice of the Myristica plant. Incredibly rich, earthy and complex in flavour, this sweet spice is a classic topping for desserts and coffees. Nutmeg is a natural fit with cream sauces and custards. It is also a source of essential oil and nutmeg butter.

CUMIN

Cumin has a warm, earthy flavour and aroma with both a sweet and bitter taste. It is a flowering plant in the family Apiaceae, native to the Middle East and stretching east to India. Its seeds – each one contained within a fruit - are dried and used in the cuisines of many cultures in both whole and ground form.

GINGER

Ginger is a flowering plant and is widely used as a spice and a folk medicine. The flavour of fresh ginger is slightly peppery, warming and sweet, with a pungent and spicy aroma. Much like garlic, ginger mellows with cooking and turns bitter if burned.

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