Spices are the soul of food. Each and every spice has its own flavor and importance. The spices take our food to the next level and make it tastier and even healthier.
If you’re still not convinced with the importance of spices, then try eating food without any spice and condiments just for once. You will surely get the point after that..!!
In our kitchens, we use many different kinds of spices but not more than 30. However, there are more than 100 types of spices in the world. All of them are obtained through different parts of the plants like cardamom pods are the fruits, sesame are the seeds and sage are the leaves.
You will be surprised to see how different the spices look before you purchase them from the store. In this article, we are sharing some of our most favorite spices and how they look before they’re processed and supplied to the markets. So, if you want to know more then, keep reading!!
Mustard is used in the seed form. The flowers of the mustard plant are the most beautiful bright yellow-colored. These grow in large fields. When the mustard blooms in late September and early October, the entire field looks mesmerizing.
After it gets dried, the seeds are harvested and processed further. Mustard seeds are widely used in cooking and even as medicines.
Cumin plants are very similar to parsley. These are frost-resistant plants that love moisture. The seeds of cumin plant are collected and left to ripen in dark and dry place. The cumin seeds are widely used in cooking and have several health benefits. Moreover, not only the seeds but also the leaves of cumin are used as a flavoring agent.
Star anise is a beautifully aromatic spice. It is shaped like a star and hence got its name. The plant and the roots have the same aroma as the pods. The fruit of the plant is a collection of a number of tiny pods. After ripening, the pods get burst and seeds become visible.
Apart from cooking, star anise has several medicinal properties.
Capers are tiny bulbs that grow on bushes with long stems. While blooming, it has beautiful pink and white flowers. Capers are generally used as pickles and canned in vinegar.
Turmeric is one of the most popular spices in the world. India is the main producer and supplier of turmeric. It has a beautiful yellow colour and the part we use is the roots. It grows as a beautiful plant. The root of the plant is taken out from the ground then kept in boiling water for about a minute. After that, the root is dried and ground into a fine powder.
It is the basic spice in every Indian dish. It can also be used raw just like ginger root. It has excellent medicinal properties. The turmeric contains a component called Curcumin which fights against many harmful bacteria and prevents dangerous diseases like Alzheimer’s and Cancer. Turmeric is a magical anti-inflammatory spice.
The most popular and widely used flavouring in the world. The spice originally hails from Central America and grows on perennial vines. It is the world’s most famous flavour. The usable part of the vanilla tree is its pods. The pods are long and thin, looks similar to French beans. These pods are collected and used in a number of desserts and drinks.
While using fresh, the pods are generally slitted and the paste is scraped and added directly to the dish. It is collected and processed into powders extract, paste, essence etc. Vanilla has such an amazing smell that it is even used in perfumes and cosmetics.
Clove is a hot and tropical spice that is used widely in cooking. These are dared bud of flowers which has a strong aroma. The clove tree blooms two times a year but gives enough crops. Hence, it is less expensive. Clove also has medicinal properties. It is used to treat cold and flu. The clove oil is used in many pain-relieving ointments.
Sesame seeds are the most famous spice, especially in middle Asia. Sesame seeds are used for both desserts and several savoury dishes. The sesame plant is very beautiful. It has lilac or white flowers and can grow up to 9 feet in length. It grows under hot and dry climatic conditions. The pods of sesame are about 3-5mm but have hundreds of seeds inside them.
Saffron is known for its aroma and colour. It is the most common spice in parts of Asia including India, Pakistan and Mediterranean countries especially Iran. It is basically a thread or fibre like spice, which is obtained through the stamens of the flower.
The flowers of saffron need to be picked and the stamen needs to be collected very quickly before they get dried. For this reason, saffron is considered as an exotic spice and is very expensive too.
Any sushi lover out there?
Wasabi is the soul of Sushi but only a few people know that it is actually a root. It is also known as Japanese horseradish. It is a very pungent spice used mainly in sushi. The wasabi plant has heart-shaped leaves and has white flowers. The root is used as a spice. It is used as a paste and powders.
Cardamom is sometimes known as the “Queen of Spices”. It is most popular in Asian countries like India, Pakistan and Middle Eastern countries. It has a strong aroma and distinct flavour that can be used in desserts as well as in other dishes. Cardamom is obtained from the fruits. These fruits are collected and dried in the sun.
Nutmeg is obtained through the fruits of the nutmeg tree. The trees of nutmeg are very tall, about 32-39 feet. The fruits look similar to peaches. Once ripe, these are collected and broken into halves for the bones. These bones are then collected and dried and used as a spice.
Black peppers are the backbone of most of the dishes. It the most common and the most favourite spice in the kitchens. These tiny black balls you see grow on lianas (woody, climbing plants that grow on trees) in high humidity. These bloom with tiny white flowers and then collected in a long spikelet-like shape. The small green fruit is what black pepper looks like when it grows.