Native to India, the peppercorn is the king of spices. Black peppercorns are the fermented green berries of a perennial vine plant, piper nigrum, sun-dried to turn them black and hard. Green, white and pink peppercorns are from the same plant as the black variety, picked at varying stages of ripeness. Black peppercorns should be large, even in size and a deep rich brown. They smell earthy, warm and pungent. Their flavour is released on grinding and enhanced by heat. However, once ground, the volatile oils soon evaporate so add pepper towards the end of cooking.
Good-quality black peppercorns will keep for many years in a cool dark place in an airtight container.Add a comment
A herb in the parsley family, similar to anise. The leaves come from the young plant, Coriandrum sativum, and look similar to flat-leaf parsley, but are thinner and lighter green. They are sold in bunches in Asian shops, and smell fruity and vibrant. They have a distinct, strong flavour, of ginger and citrus. You can use the stems as well as the leaves in Indian dishes, but make sure you wash them thoroughly first to get rid of any grit. They feature in curries chutneys, soups, sandwich spreads and relishes.Add a comment
The peeled and curled inner bark from the slim young stems of a tropical evergreen tree of the laurel family. Cinnamon has a sweet, woody fragrance, either ground or whole. When it is broken or ground, the volatile oils are released giving off their warm, sweet, aromatic and pungent flavours.
Cinnamon is used in cakes and desserts throughout the world. Its sweet-spicy flavour enhances vegetables and fruit and is an important ingredient in garam masala.Add a comment
The seeds of the Coriandrum sativum plant, a member of the parsley family. It is globular, brown to yellow red, with alternating straight and wavy ridges. It has a mild but distinctive flavour similar to a blend of lemon and sage. Coriander seeds, whole, crushed or powdered are used widely in Indian cooking, and are one of the main ingredients in the many Indian hot spice mixtures or garam masala.Add a comment
Paprika comes from sweet, mild peppers and capsicums that are sun-dried then ground to a fine brilliant red powder. It smells and tastes sweet and lightly pungent, then faintly bitter. The combination of turmeric and paprika adds the vibrant orange red colour to many Indian dishes. Store in a dry, dark place for upto 2 months.Add a comment