You Asked Us - About Some of Our Exotic Spices

In addition to a wide variety of everyday seasonings, we are pleased to bring you a number of herbs and spices that you won’t find anywhere else (unless you do a bit of globe-trotting…)

Here’s a run-down of some of the more unusual fare available in our Spice Section:

  • Ajwan is a strongly flavoured seed, reminiscent of thyme. Go slowly, as it’s overpowering in large amounts; many Indian recipes call for toasting or frying the ajwan first to mellow its flavour.
  • Annato has a sweet and peppery flavour and a bold red colour. You’ll see it in Caribbean and South American cooking, medicine, and cosmetics.
  • Asafoetida is a hardened, resinous gum with a pungent smell. Once cooked, it mellows considerably and gives a garlic-and-onions flavour to the dish. Try it in South Asian recipes.
  • Cubeb pepper appears in Northern African, Middle Eastern and Indonesian recipes. Cubeb is also used medicinally across the world. Its flavour is somewhere between black pepper and allspice.
  • Epazote is a herb native to southern Mexico, Central America, and South America. Its pungent flavour complements Mexican black bean dishes perfectly.
  • Kalonji is the seed of the Nigella sativa plant. While Kalonji is the Hindi name, you might also see it referred to as kezah, chernushka, corek otu, habbat albarakah, or siyah daneh, fennel flower, nutmeg flower, Roman coriander, blackseed, black caraway, or black onion seed. Whew! Kalonji by any name has a pungent bitter taste and good digestive properties. In Peshawar, Kalonji is sprinkled on naan.
  • Kuzdu is a starchy root often used in East Asian dishes, particularly soups and stews. It is prized for its medicinal qualities and thickening abilities.
  • Ras el Hanout means “head of the shop” in Arabic. It’s a spicy blend used to season Middle Eastern dishes.
  • Sassafras bark is aromatic and astringent. It’s traditionally used to induce sweating and break a fever, or as an antidote to a run-in with poison oak or poison sumac. Sassafras root bark was once used in conjunction with other plant roots to make root beer.
  • There are over 250 species of Sumac. The berries of the edible varieties lend a wonderful, lemony taste to Middle Eastern dishes.
  • Tonka Beans have a flavour that’s reminiscent of vanilla, almonds, cinnamon and cloves. Try using Tonka beans in place of or in addition to vanilla in baked goods or ice cream.
Posted on August 25, 2015 and filed under Product Information, You asked us.