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Sunday, May 3, 2009

Popular African Spices

Popular African food spices, Africans have developed a distinctive food pallet using a myriad of spices in stews and soups, chutneys, fruits and vegetables and so much more. 

There are more exciting spices than salt and pepper, here are a very small exampling of common herbs and spices used in African cooking:

African Bird Pepper- this pepper comes in a scorching 70,000 -150,000 Scoville Heat Units. African bird pepper, commonly referred to also as piri piri (pepper-pepper)
Sea of Spices by sara Marlowe

Cardamom- has a gingery pine flavor and if using whole seeds crack before using.

Cinnamon- made of ground dried tree bark, sometimes left whole. Most of the cinnamon comes from trees of the "cinnamon cassia" family.

Coriander- the seed of the cilantro plant, the taste is citrus sweet flavor. The African countries of Morocco and Egypt produce a lot amount of the world’s coriander.

Cumin- a member of the parsley family and has a strong earthy flavor. During the middle ages, people believed that a joyful life would come to the bride and groom who carried Cumin seeds during the entire wedding ceremony.
Popular African food spices
Fenugreek- extremely fragrant and the taste are robust, sweet, and a bit bitter. In cooking, there is not really a substitute for this unique spice.

Garlic- related to the lily family, grows in heads or clumps of cloves, and garlic is a relative of the onion. Cooks use garlic fresh and dried in recipes, garlic and has a strong flavor and concentrated aroma.

Ginger- a clean, citrus warm intense taste too much ginger translates to hot and spicy on the tongue. Ginger is one of the most popular spices in Africa.

Lemon Grass- has a strong citrus flavor, substitute for lemon zest in a recipe.

Nutmeg- sweet, nutty, heady fragrance and tastes warm and a bit sweet.

Saffron- the world’s most expensive spice, Saffron threads are the stigma of the purple crocus and it takes 175,000-225,000 manually selected flowers to make a pound of saffron. Saffron has a strong aroma and a pungent, sweet taste and gives foods a brilliant yellow color.

Tamarind- native to the tropics of Africa tamarind is a brownish slightly sour tasting pod popular in Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean.

Turmeric- sharp, peppery, slightly musty, earthy aroma with an astringent flavor. Turmeric also adds a vivid yellow color to foods.

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