What is our food without the spices inside of them? The truth is that our food has no significant taste or a taste that we can pick up unless we have spices to give them that mouth-watering taste. It is this simple taste that inspires us to roll up our sleeves and spend time cooking in the kitchen. There are standard spices that have been around in kitchens since time immemorial. There are some who like to treat themselves and their tongues with different types of tastes that are a little more unknown. For those lesser known spices, here are some exotic herbs to try with your next dish if you haven’t already done so.
If you haven’t tried the bright, sunny yellow spice from India, you have missed on the hype with this almost magical herb. Turmeric is made of a root that grows in Southeast Asia. It is a staple for the Southeastern Asian kitchen. They add it to everything — in curries, soups, rice, chicken, legume dishes, and vegetables. It has a very distinctive flavor with a pinch of bitterness to it. This herb also contains curcumin — a substance that is used for many health-boosting recipes because of its anti-inflammatory properties.
In our culture, vanilla has been more popular as a cosmetic product that for eating. In places where it was traditionally used, vanilla is used as a paste made directly from the vanilla beans. This paste has the exact same smell as the extract, but it is more concentrated taste-wise. It is very potent, so it must be used in small doses. Small portions of it can be added to dishes in which you usually use a vanilla extract.
If you have tried food from a Middle East kitchen and liked it, zaatar may be right up your alley. Zaatar is a versatile and bold spice originating from the MIddle East. and it’s zest permeates through a kitchen. Zaatar is actually a mix of different spices that has become a product of its own due to its popularity in an Arab kitchen. A native of Lebanon, Syria, Israel, Jordan, and Palestine, this herb can be used to create delicious dips, to marinate meat, or add flavor to the bread. The smell is highly aromatic and fresh with a subtle bitterness to its taste.
Now, you might want to try it on your own so here are a few thoughts. Traditionally, it is used to dip pita bread into a combination with it and olive oil. The spice can also be added to crackers to give them a specific aroma and flavor. Traditional Arabic meals like herb-infused meats, hummus, and sauces can become what they were meant to be with this herb. It can also be used in a simpler recipe together with olive oil, lemon juice, and salt.
Epazote is a native herb of Mexico. It has been used for cooking and medicine in Mexico for thousands of years and is still widely used today. Some suggest that it is best to be consumed with olive oil over a traditional flatbread. When the spice is heated in such a fashion, it releases all of its taste qualities and is even better to the senses. The flavor of the herb strongly resembles that of licorice with its pungent sweetness. It can be added to all kinds of dishes and is especially beneficial for bean dishes as it helps with the gas-inducing effect of those.
Herbes de Provence
This less-popular French spice is a combination of a couple of herbs from the Provence region of France. It contains basil, fennel, rosemary, lavender, thyme, savory, and marjoram.
Next time you cook, do not forget to try out something new. If you are interested, read about some of the other amazing recipes and food ideas we have on our blog. Who knows — it may turn out to become your favorite spice and become a tradition in your own kitchen.