The Science Of Spice: Understanding Spices In World Cuisines
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Spices have always played a very important part in human culture. Initially, spices were of great value and used as a symbol of royalty and prosperity. For many years spices were used between noble families as gifts and barters. In fact, in many parts of Europe like Rome, salt was used as a means of payment for soldiers in lieu of money for their services to the kingdom. The way that spices have been used in different parts of the world is also subject to the cooking practices and availability of other ingredients in the country.

 If you observe carefully Indians have always used a generous amount of spices in their food. Spices like turmeric, red chillies and Asafoetida have all contributed towards adding a certain depth to Indian cuisine. The spices have further been used to make other spices of complex flavours like garam masala and chaat masala.

Both Indians and Egyptians are known for having the best spices in the world. The aroma and taste of spices from both countries are different from what you will get in the rest of the world. The real amalgamation of spices in India began in the 14th century after the invasion of the Mughals from Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan. The introduction of various spices not only stimulated the growth of Indian cuisine but also led to major advancements in the field of Ayurveda. Many spices like turmeric and fenugreek are used in curing a lot of body ailments because of their antibacterial properties. Other spices like cloves, fennels, and cardamoms are used as mouth-freshening agents because of their naturally great fragrance.

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Just like India, Egypt has always been known for its aromatic and unique spices. Some of the most popular spices used in Egyptian cuisine are cumin. Cumin is popular for its slight nutty flavours and is a popular spice in a lot of parts of the world. Egyptians use Cumin to make stews, soups, and a lot of other spice blends. Other than this, Egyptians also heavily rely on coriander and garlic powder. Coriander is used to add freshness to all kinds of recipes in Egyptian cuisine from salads to meat dishes. garlic on the other hand is very famous for its pungent smell and is fundamental in Egyptian cuisine. 

Dill is another exquisite herb from Egypt, which has tangy undertones. Mostly Dill is used in making seafood, soups and rice. The aroma and vibrant touch of despise bring a lot of freshness and flavour to the dish.

African countries also heavily rely on spices for flavours in their dishes. Condiments like garlic, tomato, puree and cardamoms are all very important parts of their meal preparation process. Poivre de penja is a popular spice that is used in many African countries and originates from the Moungo and Koupe Manengouba regions in Cameron. The spice has a very pungent smell and quite intense flavours. It looks like small pepper balls and comes in various varieties like green, black, white and red. The aroma of the spice is very woody and spicy. 

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Another spice blend that is very popular in African countries is mitmita. This is a utopian spice blend that is made from the concoction of various spices like cloves, cardamom, cumin seeds, ginger, salt, cinnamon and ground cinnamon. Also, a lot of dried bird’s eye chile is used to make this spice blend. It is traditionally used as a dip for cooking raw meat dishes and it can also be used to directly sprinkle over certain dishes. African countries have many similar spice blends that include Za’atar, berbere, and Ras El Hanout. In African culture, you will see that instead of using all the spices separately, people use spice mixtures to cook dishes.

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Brazilians are also known for their flavourful and colourful choices when it comes to cooking food. Brazilian food heavily relies on spices. A lot of spices in Brazil were introduced by the Portuguese during the colonisation period. Some of the most dominant spices you will see in Brazilian cuisine include chilli peppers, cinnamon, cilantro and Annatto. Annatto is responsible for the bright red colour of many dishes and has been historically used as a dyeing agent for clothes and colouring food in Brazil and other parts of the world. cinnamon is also a very popular ingredient in Brazil, especially to make particular roasted chicken recipes more than any dessert.

Italy is also very famous for its unique variety of herbs and spices that are used in Italian cuisine. Italian cuisine is one of a kind and has been an inspiration for a lot of cuisines around the world. The flavours in Italian dishes are mild but exactly how they should be. You will see Italians using a lot of red pepper flakes to give that spicy cake to their heavy cheese-based dishes. Cheese generally absorbs the spicy flavour of a dish, which is why Italians are prominent users of red pepper flakes. Other than this bay leaves and parsley are also very important parts of Italian cuisine. Italians use the deadly combination of parsley and garlic in their recipes because these two ingredients complement each other's flavour profile really well. paprika is another dominant ingredient that you would see being used in Italian cuisine. Most of the sauces made in Italian cuisine have very evident flavours of paprika.

If you look at the flavours and spices used in the different cuisines of the world, you will see so many commonalities. But eventually, the taste of these dishes is so different from each other, that it can be hard to comprehend that the spices used in all of them are basically the same. This proves that the quantity and the way that we use spices in our dishes play a very important role in the final outcome of flavours.