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Use the oil, with the popped seeds, to flavor soups and vegetables. Put mustard seeds in a tightly sealed container and store them in a dark, cool, dry place. Fresh ginger gives delicious, peppery flavor to recipes. If you leave it exposed to room temperature, ginger spoils pretty quickly, so try this trick: Wrap a chunk of peeled ginger root tightly and store it in the freezer; you can grate what you need right into the pot. Garam masala Image: Kitchen Kemistry. This is a blend of spices that varies according to cook and region of India, but it is a staple of Indian cooking the way that herbs de Provence functions in French cuisine.

This vivid yellow spice gives many Indian dishes their characteristic color. A relative of ginger, the spice is known for its anti-inflammatory properties as well as its valuable work as a flavor and color additive in curries.

23 Spices Every Beginner Cook Needs

Cinnamon Image: Nuts. The spice adds a delicate sweetness to savory recipes as well as desserts. Cassia has a stronger, spicier flavor. Ceylon cinnamon is credited with being antioxidant-rich and good for reducing cholesterol and stabilizing blood-sugar levels—all that and great taste? This is one spice you should keep in the freezer—it loses freshness quickly.

23 Spices Every Beginner Cook Needs

Alternatively, you can buy whole pods as above and grind them when a recipe calls for cardamom. Chai, curries, and rice dishes all get a flavor boost from cardamom. Spicy red chile pepper. Various chile peppers rack up the heat in curries; you can adjust quantities to taste. West Indian Curried Redfish Roti. Curried Lentils and Vegetables with Basmati Rice. Vegemite-loving Aussies declare Marmite an abomination. Marmite-dependent Brits say Vegemite is simply wrong. To the rest of the world though, the two taste exactly the same: disgusting.

What happens when capers, pickles, mustard and herbs collide in a creamy mayonnaise? Tartar sauce happens. And it makes a perfect dressing for fried fish. We can't decide whether hoisin sauce tastes better when wrapped in a pancake with juicy Peking duck and spring onions, or when coated on a crispy suckling pig crackling. But we're willing to dedicate an entire evening to researching it. Full appreciation of wasabi involves a degree of masochism. Its fiery refreshing taste rises quickly to attack nostrils and tear glands when consumed.


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It's best sampled between the fish and rice of a delicately crafted piece of nigiri sushi. Under no circumstances should it be mixed in soy sauce as a dip for sushi. The real wasabi -- one of the world's costliest vegetables -- should be grated only moments before it's eaten. Sadly, those packets of wasabi that come with a takeout sashimi box are unlikely to be the real thing. They're usually a mixture of horseradish, mustard and food coloring.

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MORE: How to eat sushi. A trendier cousin of peanut butter, Tahini is a paste made from ground sesame seeds and peanut oil. When thinned out with other ingredients, it's often served as a dressing in Middle Eastern cuisine. Swiping a hummus plate clean with pitta bread is a satisfying experience. Made mostly with chickpeas, olive oil, lemon juice and tahini, this light brownish puree is usually served as a dip or a spread. Have we mentioned it's also protein-packed and helps lower cholesterol?

Its name conjures up images of far-flung exotic lands. Which is more than could be said for its main ingredients. But when you're mixing together some of the world's greatest condiments -- Worcestershire sauce, mayonnaise, mustard, ketchup, Tabasco, chili sauce -- how can it be anything other than marvelous. One of the biggest joys in a classy Indian meal is the small bowls of chutneys that line up at the side of a dish.

Herbs, Spices & Seasonings

Made of fruit or vegetable marinated in vinegar, spices and sugar, chutneys can be sweet, savory or spicy. Regular restaurant combos include tamarind, mint and mango chutneys, served with crispy poppadoms. Filipino brand Datu Puti is synonymous with vinegar in the Philippines. Also known as sukang maasim, or cane vinegar, it's one of the key flavors of home for Filipinos living overseas. Brewed from sugarcane juice, sukang maasim has a rather mild, sour flavor.

It can be applied to almost any food but goes best with fried dishes. It's the key ingredient of the marinade for adobo, the national dish of the Philippines. A byproduct of soy sauce, miso is one of the most important condiments in a Japanese kitchen. Apart from being used to make soup, miso paste can be served directly as a topping on rice.

Miso ramen with curly yellow noodles is a specialty in Japan's Hokkaido region. The best place to get some miso is from Yuasa, the birthplace of Japanese soy sauce , in Wakayama prefecture. A close, but infinitely more cosmopolitan cousin of mayonnaise, aioli begins with a ground garlic paste before whipping in egg yolk, olive oil and mustard. The emulsion is sometimes seasoned with lemon juice, saffron or chili. It's a perfect dip for seafood, veggie crisp or patatas bravas Spanish fried potatoes. The words "healthy" and "delicious" don't normally appear side by side, but they make an exception for salsa.

A perfect salsa blends crunchy, chunky tomatoes and onions with a generous chili kick, cilantro and lemon juice. Prosaically named brown sauce has been a staple of British diets since it was created in Often known as HP, thanks to the popular brand that originated it, the thick sauce blends tomatoes, vinegar, dates, sugar, tamarind and other spices.

It's usually found near the breakfast table, where it accompanies the heart attack on a plate that is the full English breakfast. Even celebrity chef Jamie Oliver likes to pair his bacon sandwich with it. Tunisia's de facto national condiment, harissa is an aromatic hot chili pepper paste made from surprise, surprise chili and pepper, plus a few other assorted spices. The bright red paste is used to flavor tagine, marinate meat or make a dip for bread. Sriracha was originally created in Si Racha, an eastern coastal town in Thailand, before spreading around Southeast Asia.

Thanks to David Tran, a Vietnamese-American who founded Huy Fong sometimes known as rooster sauce , sriracha has amassed a following worldwide. Sriracha sauce is mostly served with seafood in Thailand.

Instead of drowning a flavorsome pho broth with sriracha, it's better to use it as a dip for meat on the side. In theory, squirting a mixture of tomato sauce, curry powder and paprika over a sausage should be a very bad thing. In reality, currywurst -- as one of Germany's favorite fast foods is known -- is highly addictive. More than years ago, the founder of Hong Kong condiment company Lee Kum Kee accidentally reduced a pot of oyster soup into a thick dark sauce.

Stock your pantry with everything you need to feed your family well

As many great food stories go, he realized it was a delicious invention and turned it into one of the bestselling sauces among Chinese communities around the world. Oyster sauce is saltier and is used more often in everyday cooking than hoisin sauce. It's as at home marinating a steak as it is dressing boiled choi sum. Barbecue sauce -- in its many forms -- is a delicious addition to any meat. READ: 5-minute guide to Brazilian barbecue.

go It's said that pesto can be traced back to the s in Italy. After centuries, the fresh green paste still hasn't gone out of fashion. Consisting of basil, pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, olive oil and salt, pesto is great on any pasta.