Allspice - Aniseed - Annatto - Asafoetida - Caraway - Cardamon - Cayenne Pepper - Celery - Chillies - Cassia - Cloves - Corriander - Cumin Seeds - Dill Seeds - Fennel Seeds - Fenugreek Seeds - Ginger - Grains Of Paradise - Juniper Berries - Mace - Mustard Seeds - Nigella Seeds - Nutmegs - Paprika - Peppers - Poppy Seeds - Saffron - Sesame Seeds - Sumac - Tamarind - Turmeric - Vanilla - Curry Powder - Garam Masala - Garlic - Horseradish -

ALLSPICE (Pimenta dioica)

This spice has a mixed fragrant of cinnamon, nutmeg & cloves thus making its name as All spice. It was introduced in Europe in the 16th century as Jamaican pepper. It looses its flavour very easily when stored incorrectly either in whole or powder form.The berries are from an evergreen tree which originated from the West Indies,central & South America and are picked before ribening to be sundried.

Aniseed (pimoinella Anisum)

Star-aniseed or badiane (Illicium verum) Aniseed pepper (Xanthoxylum Piperitium)- There are three plants which share the same name 'aniseed'. Two of them-anise and star-anise- contain the same essential oil, 'anethole' (which is also found in fennel), and have a liquorice-like flavour. It is grown mainly for its seed. It is a sun-loving annual, native to the levant, which grows to 0.6m (2 ft). It's yellowish-white are followed by small oval seeds: these have been used for culinary and medicinal purposes. Anise is still used in medicine for digestive complaints and is an ingredient in cough medicines. Star-aniseed, or badiane(Illicium verum), is a native of China, an evergreen of the magnolia family. The star-shaped fruit are dried and form an essential ingredient in many recipes. The third aniseed plant-anise pepper (Xanthoxylum Piperitium)- is hot & aromatic. It is used mainly in China. It is one of the spice that makes up the Chinese five-spice powder.

Annatto (Bixa orllena)

The fragrant of the annatto tree is known as achiote. It is an important ingredient in Mexican cooking, the hard seeds are ground into a paste & used to colour & flavour meats & fish.The hard yellowish-red pulp surrounding the seed is used to make oil, which is added to meat, poultry & fish dishes.

Asafoetida (Ferula asofoetida)

When the stems of this large, unpleasant-smelling plant are cut, a milky liquid is produced. When dried, it turns to a brown resinous gum which is used in cooking and pharmaceutical purposes.

Specifications Of Dry Gum Asafoetida

Moisture 8.1%
Total Ash 2.9%
Ash Insoluble In dil.Hcl 0.30%
90% alcoholic extract 13.5%
Test for Colophony Resin Negative
Test for starch Positive

Specifications Of Moist Gum Asafoetida

Moisture 13%
Microscopic Wheat starch cells present
Opinion Unadulterated
Packing 25 kgs drums

Caraway (Carum Carvi)

This is a wild plant which originaed from india and is now widely grown in Europe. The crescent shaped seeds are most widely used as a flavour of liquirice, has a sligly bitter taste. The word Caraway came from the Arabic word Karawya. The leaves of caraway are feathery, similar to dell weeds. Even its roots are boiled and can be eaten.

Caraway (Elettaria)

This perenial plant is a member of the ginger family and grows to about 2.5 M (8 ft) in its Indian origin. The seeds in the pods ( green, brown or bleached) contain small lack,sticky seeds which contain volatile andd fixed oil, starch, salt of pottasium, mucilage, ash and resin. They have a strong almost lemon taste and aroma. The pods are one of the most important ingredient for Indian cooking and as a flavouring in Tea &coffe in the Arabian countries.The pods once open looses its flavour quickly.

Cayenne Pepper

The powder is made by mixing 2 dried seeds of the Capsicum family and as a reddish-orange powder. These capsicums are called frutescens and frutescens minimum. It has a very strong hot & sharp taste with bitter smell.

Celery Seed ( Apium graveolens)

The brownish seeds of the celery plant are often dried and used to flavour soups,stews and breads.They are a common addition to tomato juice. Much more popular twenty years ago than they are today,the seeds can be bitter if used to excess.


Chilli peppers,red peppers (capsicums),sweet or bell peppers,paprika and cayenne pepper all come from Capsicum annuum or C frutescsens,the same family to which the tomato,potato and aubergine (eggplant) belong. Many capsicum species grow wild in South America, particularly in Brazil, and there is evidence of their cultivation 9,000 years ago in the Valley of Mexico.Chillies seem most prized in countries with hot climates. In Central and South America,the middle East,India,Africa,south east Asia and Szechuan in China they are used in all manner of dishes:with vegetables,in meat and fish dishes,for sauces,pickles and salads.They are dries,pounded into powders and pastes and made into proprietary sauces and chutneys.Chillies are used sparingly in Europe only in the Mediterranean, in parts of Italy,Greece and Spain do they appear regularly. Chilli peppers grow in all shapes,colours and sizes and they can be all sorts of colours and shapes i.e. red,yellow,green,cream and black-purple and in shapes of elongated or triangular, tiny and round. Unfortunately,there is no easy way to distinguish between those which are sweet and mild and those that are violently hot. Indeed, chillies from the same plant can very in intensity from mild to extremely hot.And it is not always true that red chillies are riper and hotter that green ones.The only thing to do is taste them. (Always wash your hands immediately after handling chillies-it can be extremely painful getting the juice in the eyes.) It is possible,however,to classify chillies into groups: fresh and dried. Most are known in Western countries by their Mexican names,or simply as 'chilli'.

Cassia - Cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum)

The bark of low-growing, ever-green bush this spice is a native to Sri Lanka. It is peeled from thin branches in strips and, when dried in the sun, one strip inside the other, curls up into the familar quills. The finest quality cinnamon quills are pale and come from the thinnest bark. Cassia (Cinnamomum cassia) is often confused with the true cinnamon: it comes from the same family, is sold in similar cinnamon flavour and arome, but it is stronger and slightly bitter. It has been used in China since 2500 BC and is widely known as Chinese cinnamon. Cinnamon is more expensive than cassia and the ground spices are often mixed together and sold as cinnamon; cassia powder is redder than true cinnamon. The ground spice loses its flavour quickly and should be bought in small quantities and stored in an airtight containers. Ground cassia is one of the spices in the Chinese five-spice powder. The leaves of the cassia bush are widely used in India.

Clove (Eugenia aromatica)

The name clove comes from clavus,the Latin word for nail, the shape of which the spice closely resembles.The clove tree , a member of the myrtle family and native of south-east Asia, grows to 9 m (30 ft) and flourishes only in tropical climates near the sea. The spice is the young unopened flower bud. It is dried,when it turns a red-brown colour and becomes one of the strongest spices. It should be used with discretion as it can easily overpower other flavours in a dish. Main producing countries are Brazil, Madagascar, Zanzibar & Indonesia. In Indonesia it is widely used in manufacture of cigarettes which is called kretek in Indonesian language.

Coriander Seeds (Coriandrum sativum)

Is grown both for its leaves and seeds. In Thailand, the root is harvested as well and used with garlic and other spices.Coriander seeds have a milder flavour than the leaves and taste quite different. They are sweet and have a slight citrus taste.The seeds vary in colour from pale green to cream or brown. When it is ground, when it loses its flavours rapidly,coriander flavours roasted meat and is an essential curry spice; in India it is usually lightly roasted before being ground.

Cumin Seeds (Cuminum cyminum)

a delicate annual which originated in the East and flourishes only in hot climates.It is often confused with caraway, as they are slightly similar in shape. But are quite different in taste: cumin has a mellower flavour, without the bitterness of caraway. Nevertheless, it has an extremely pungent spice and does tend to dominate any dish in which it is included. It is used in the blending of curry and chilli powders.The seeds are used whole and ground, sometimes being roasted before they are ground. Black cumin seeds, which are said to have a more refined flavour, are also used, but they are relatively expensive.

Dill Seeds (Anethum graveolens)

The buff-coloured seeds of the dill plant are used as a spice and the feathery leaves are used as a spice and the feathery leaves are used as a herb. Dill seeds taste a little like caraway .

Fennel Seeds (Foeniculum Vulgare) or Florence fennel (F. vulgare dulce)

The low-growing variety cultivated for its bulbous stem which is eaten as a vegetable. Fennel seeds are used all over the world, mainly for medicinal purposes as they are reputed to be a good digestive.

Fenugreek Seeds (Trigonella foenum-graceum)

Originated in the Mediterranen region. The flat yellow seeds come from long pods which are produced in late summer, after the fragrant cream flowers have bloomed. The name fenugreek comes from fenum graecum,the Latin for 'Greekhay'. According to evidence found in the Pyramids, it was used by the Egyptians. The seeds have a faint curry flavour, with a bitter aftertaste.

Ginger (Zingiber officinale)

pale yellow and orchid-like-is as wondrous as the spice produced by its fat, irregular-shaped rhizomes. A native of the damp tropical jungles of south-east Asia, ginger was one of the earliest spices imported into Europe over the caravan routes. The Spaniards introduced it to the West Indies in the 16th century, and today it is grown in all of the hot countries. In Europe, ginger was regarded as an essential ingredient in most meat dishes until the 18th century.It then lost favour, and now is used almost exclusively in sweet dishes. Ginger is available fresh or dried. Fresh ginger - The rhizome should be plump and firm. It must always be peeled, and is then either finely chopped or pounded. The taste is sharp yet subtle, and its crispness is retained if lightly cooked.Fresh ginger can be preserved in a alcohol. Dried ginger - Black or green ginger is produced by drying the unpeeled rhizome. White ginger, which is blanched, peeled and bleached before being dried, has a better flavour. Green ginger is the essential ingredient in some ginger wines. Dried ginger should be bruised with a rolling-pin or hammer to release the aromtic flavour during cooking and be discarded before serving. It is available in in both as a whole dried ginger or sliced . Ground ginger - This is made from the dried rhizome. Like most spices, once ground, ginger loses its flavour; it is better to keep whole dried ginger and grind some when required.

Grains of Paradise (Amomum melegueta)

This spice comes from the small brown seeds contained in the fruit of the West Africa tree Amomum melegueta, which is a member of the same family as ginger and cardamom. Grains of paradise are widely used in the Caribbean and in Africa; they are also called Melegueta or Guinea pepper. The flavour is hot, spicy and aromatic. The spice was previously widely used instead of pepper. It is obtainable from West India or Africa grocers, or can be replaced with allspice.

Juniper Berries (Juniperus communis)

It thrives in the woods and mountain gullies of Mediterranean Europe. It takes three years to ripen fully and is strongly aromatic and sweet. Although juniper is used as a flavouring all over Europe, particularly in northern European countries and in the Mediterranean region (where the berries are oilier and therefore stronger in taste), it is not as widely favoured as it ought to be.

Mace (Myristica fragrans)

Mace comes from the same fruit as the nutmeg ; it is the scarlet skin, or aril, which surrounds the nutmeg seed. Once removed ,it is flattenned and dried, becoming quite brittle.This time-consuming process to produce what are called 'blades of mare', and the finer flavour of the product, makes this spice much more expensive of the nutmeg, although the flavour of the two is similar. Because it is rather expensive, ground mace is often adulterted and, like most spices, tends to lose its potency quickly.


The flavour and pungency of mustard is due to a hot -tasting essential oil contained in the seed of the mustard plant, which is only released when the crushed seed is mixed with cold liquid. There are several types of mustard plant; the principal ones grown for seed are Brassica nigra, which produces the reddish-black seeds, B. juncea or brown mustard, and Sinaapis alba, a white-seeded variety. Nigra mustard, a native of the Middle East, is the most pungent of the three and, until very recently, was the most commonly used. But it is a diffcult plant to harvest mechanically and has therefore been largely replaced by the more manageable, but less pungent, juncea mustard. The alba variety, known as white or yellow mustard, is very much weaker and is only used in combination with juncea. Dry mustard -The most famous of these is English mustard. It is made by grinding the seed and passing it through a fine sieve. It contains juncea mustard, often mixed with white mustard. It should be mixed with cold water and set aside for at least 10 minutes to allow the flavour to develop. It can then be mixed with vinegar or lemon juice, both of which stop the development process, or added to hot dishes. Mixed Mustards- Of the mixed mustard, the two most common French ones are Dijon and Bordeaux. Dijon has long been centre of mustard production. The pale preparation made in Dijon under appellation control is based on nigra or juncea mustard seeds (alba seeds are not permitted), which are hulled and ground with verjuice. Dijon mustard has a light, sharp taste, hot and slightly salty, and is regarded as finer than Bordeaux. It is the 'classic' mustard, used in French sauces and mayonnaises. Bordeaux mustard is darker. The seed coats are not removed; it is mixed with vinegar and sugar, and flavoured with tarragon. German mustards are similar to those of Bordeaux - dark and flavoured with herbs and spices. American mustards are usully made with alba seeds and are fairly mild in flavour. They are many other mustards available, flavoured with garlic, peppercorns, pimento, and so on.

Nigella Seeds

Nigella is used as a spice in the Middle East and India. The tearshaped black seeds grow on a small plant Nigella sativa. Aromatic with a peppery taste, they are sometimes used instead of pepper. In India, where they are called 'Kalonji', nigella seeds are used as a pickling spice, sprinkled on breads, and added to fish and vegetable dishes by the Bengalese. The seeds are also used in Egypt. Nigella is sometimes called fennel flour or devil-in-the-bush. In France the seeds are occasionally included in quatre-spices instead of pepper.


The nutmeg comes from a large evergreen (Myristica fragrans) native to the Melucca islands in Indonesia. It was introduced to Europe by the Portuguese in the 16th century. Once the fleshy yellow fruit has ripened and dried, it split open. Inside, enclosing the nutmeg seeds, is the scarlet aril which is removed and dried to become mace. The hard brown nuts are never used whole but are finely grated; freshly grated nutmeg is far superior to the powdered variety.


Paprika is an Hungarian word and paprika pepper is the national spice of Hungary, where over six different kinds of the finely ground powder are available. They range in colour from the brightest red to a light rose, and in flavour from light, sweet and spicy to fiercely sharp. Paprika is made from dried and ground red peppers (Capsicum tetragonum). Its pungency depands on the proportion of flesh to seeds used.


The peppers (Piper nigrum) which produce peppercorns are unrelated to the Capsicum family; they are members of the Piperaceae family and are native to the Malabar coast in south-east India.Vine peppers produce strings of berries which are picked green and dried in the sun to become black peppercorns. Berries which are left to ripen, turn red; from these we get white peppercorns- the ripe berries are dried then soaked to remove the dark husk. Green peppercorns are the unripe berries; pink peppercorns are the pickled ripe ones. A Chinese tree produces Szechuan peppercorns, which are reddish-brown and very hot; they are available whole and seeded. Black peppercorns are more aromatic but not as sharp as white ones. Like most spices, peppercorns should be bought whole and ground when needed.

Poppy Seeds

The spice known as poppy seed is the ripe seed of the opium poppy (Papaver somniferum). The tiny blue-grey seeds, which have a nutty taste, are used extensively in European and Middle East. The poppy seeds used in India, called 'khas khas', are yellow-white.


Saffron is almost as expensive as gold. It is the dried stigmas of a blue-flowered crocus (Crocus sativus) which are hand picked and sold as the spice. The saffron crocus, a member of the Iris family, is a native of Turkey and surrounding countries;it should no be confused with the unrelated autumn crocus (Colchicum autumnale) which is poisonous. Saffron has a slightly bitter and a dark orange-gold colour; it can be bought in threads or ground. saffron has always been adulterated, so it is best to buy the threads, which should be dark orange with no white streaks.

Sesame seeds

The tiny creamy-coloured seeds from the sesame plant (Sesamum indicum) are one of the world's oldest spices. They are aslo the source of a valuable cooking oil, used extensively in India, Asia and Central America, and commercilly in the production of margarine. The seeds have a sweet nutty taste and are used-lightly roasted-sprinkled on breads, cakes and vegatable. The ground seeds are made into halvah. They are also pounded into a creamy paste, called tahini.

Sumac Seeds

Sumac seeds are used in the Middle East, particularly in the Lebanon, as a souring agent in place of lemon juice. There are over 250 species of sumac, but it is only the Sicilian sumac (Rhus coriori) that is widely used in cooking as many other species are poisonous. The sour seeds are dried, then crushed and steeped in water to extract their juice. Sumac can also de bought in powder form. A North American species, R. glabra, produces red berries which the Indians use to make a cordial ,they have a similar sour quality.


The large dark brown pod produced by the tamarind tree (Tamarindus indica), a native of eastern Asia. It thrives in tropical climates all through Asia, The indian sub-continent, the Middle East, Africa and in the West Indies.The seed pod, once ripened on the tree, contains a fleshy pulp which accounts for its sourness. The pods are sold whole, then broken and soaked, and the pulp extracted in the form of juice; the seeds and the pods are then discarded. Tamarind paste is also widely available: this is the compressed pod minus the seeds; it needs to be soaked before use.


A relation of the ginger plant, turmeric (Curcuma longa) has much broader leaves, although it is rather similar in looks. Like ginger, the spice is obtained from the rhizome, the flesh of which is a brilliant orange. The rhizomes are dried, then peeled and ground. Turmeric is almost always sold as a powder as the fresh rhizome is difficult to grind. Turmeric should never be substituted for saffron as the colour and the flavour are different.


The vanilla sold as a spice is the pod of the climbing orchid (Vanilla planifoli), which comes from the east coast of South America and grows only in tropical climates.The finest vanilla has a smooth black surface, is between 20.5-30.5cm (8-12 in) long, and is covered with a frost of the vanillin crystals from which the taste and aroma are derived. Inferior vanilla pods are dull, lighter in colour and usually shorter with litter or no frosting. An essence of vanilla is also widely available, produced by extracting the flavour from crushed vanilla pods with alcohol. Because it is possible to produce vanillin synthetically, many adulterated products are sold as vanilla essence; vanilla pods should be stored in a dark, airtight container.

Curry Powder

The ingredients always include cloves, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, black pepper, chilli, coriander seed, fenugreek,cumin,mustard seed,poppy seed,turmeric,cardamom and the curry leaf is the main feature of a Madras curry.

Garam Masala

Contains various spices which usually include cumin seed, peppercorns, cloves, coriander seed, cardamon and cinnamon. The spices are dry-roasted individually and ground.

Garlic (Allium sativum)

Is a native of central Asia but is now naturalized all over the world. It is a member of the onion family, which is reflected in its name, from the Old English gar (lance) and leac (leek).There are many garlic varieties: the bulbs- or heads as they also called- vary in the size and number of cloves they contain, and some have white skin, other pink or mauve skin. The garlic grown in hot climated tends to be the sweetest of all with the best flavour.Garlic should be hard and full, with no discoloured spots, and it is best stored in a cool place.

Horseradish (Armoracia rusticana)

Is a hardy penennial with large wavy-edged leaves and a thick brown tap-root which is off-white inside. Horseradish can also be bought dried.


They are the unopened flower buds of the trailing shrub Capparis spinosa, whice grown wild all round the Mediterranean basin and in North Africa.Consequently, capers figure prominently in the cuisine of the areas. The shrub has tough ovate leaves and large white flowers with four petals. The buds contain an organic acid, caprio, which only come out when they have been pickled in vinegar or dry-salted, and gives their characteristic flavour.Usually sold in small jars, capers must be kept covered with pickling liquid.