----------------------ABU DHABI----------------------

Monday, December 31

A Spice Lesson

The Bay Leaf:
Bay leaves are a fixture in the cooking of many European cuisines (particularly those of the Mediterranean), as well as in North America.
They are used in soups, stews, meat, seafood, and vegetable dishes. The leaves also flavor classic French dishes such as bouillabaise and bouillon. The leaves are most often used whole (sometimes in a bouquet garni), and removed before serving. In Indian cuisine, bay leaves are often used in biryani and many salans.

Bay leaves can also be crushed (or ground) before cooking. Crushed bay leaves impart more of their desired fragrance than whole leaves, and there is less chance of biting into a leaf directly.
Black Cardamom and Green Cardamom:
In India, black cardamom seeds are often an important component of the Indian spice mixture garam masala. Black cardamom is also commonly used in savory dal and rice dishes.
China, the pods are used for long-braised meat dishes, particularly in the cuisine of the central-western province of Sichuan.

The pods are also often used in Vietnam, they are used as an ingredient in the broth for noodle soup.

Black cardamom pods can be used in soups, chowders, casseroles, and marinades for smoky flavor, much in the way bacon is used.

Black cardamom is often erroneously described as an inferior substitute for green cardamom by those who are unfamiliar with the spice. Although the flavor differs from the more common green cardamom, black cardamom is sometimes used by large-scale commercial bakers because of its relative cheapness.
Green cardamom is an ingredient in many Indian curries, and is a primary contributor to the flavour of masala chai. In the Middle East and Iran, cardamom is used to flavour coffee and tea as well as rice dishes and soups. In Turkey, it is used to flavor the black Turkish tea (Kakakule in Turkish).

As well as in its native range, it is also grown in
Nepal, Vietnam, Thailand, and Central America. In India, the states of Sikkim and Kerala are the main producers of cardamom; they rank highest both in cultivated area and in production. It was first imported into Europe c.1200 CE
Cumin Seeds:
Today, cumin is identified with Indian and Mexican cuisine and Cuban cuisine. It is used as an ingredient of curry powder. Cumin can be found in some Dutch cheeses like Leyden cheese, and in some traditional breads from France. It is also wide-spread used by traditional culinary in Brazil.
In herbal medicine, cumin is classified as stimulant, carminative, and antimicrobial.

Cumin can be used to season many dishes, as it draws out their natural sweetnesses.
It is traditionally added to curries, enchiladas, tacos, and other Middle-eastern, Indian, Cuban and Mexican-style foods. It can also be added to salsa to give it extra flavour. Cumin has also been used on meat in addition to other common seasonings. The spice is a familiar taste in Tex-Mex dishes and is extensively used in the cuisines of the Indian subcontinent. Cumin was also used heavily in ancient Roman cuisine.
The flavour of cumin plays a major role in Cuban, Mexican, Thai, Vietnamese, and Indian cuisines. Cumin is a critical ingredient of chili powder, and is found in achiote blends, adobos, sofrito, garam masala, curry powder, and bahaarat.

Cumin seeds are often ground up before being added to dishes.

Cumin seeds are also often "toasted" by being heated in an ungreased frying pan to help release their essential oils.
Black Pepper:
Dried ground pepper is one of the most common spices in European cuisine and its descendants, having been known and prized since antiquity for both its flavour and its use as a medicine. The spiciness of black pepper is due to the chemical piperine. Ground black peppercorn, usually referred to simply as "pepper", may be found on nearly every dinner table in some parts of the world, often alongside table salt.

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