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What it is: This condiment is made from the dried herbs of oregano, basil thyme, savory and thyme (and some combination thereof), mixed with toasted sesame seeds, dried sumac, and often salt, as well as other spices.
Place of origin: Middle East and North Africa.
Is commonly used in… Arab cuisine. As a dip, it is eaten with pita, or spread on bread.
Add it to… a dough base and bake as a bread, season your meats and vegetables, or simply sprinkle it on hummus or salads.
What it is: This hot/ chili sauce is made from a paste of chili peppers, distilled vinegar, garlic, sugar, and salt—all blended together.
Place of origin: This sauce is named after the coastal city of Si Racha, in Chonburi Province of eastern Thailand.
Commonly used in: In most South-east Asian restaurants in India as a dipping sauce for seafood and spring rolls.
Add it to… soupy pho or fried noodles, soups, burgers and other sauces.
Where to buy: Bottles of this popular hot sauce is sold on saucekart.com, and Sriracha-flavoured potato chips are found in departmental stores in India and is also used as an add-on in cocktails.
What it is: Chipotles are smoke-dried jalapeño, in a manner akin to prunes or raisins. Deep red, and those jalapeños that have lost much of their moisture are picked to be made into chipotles.
Place of origin: Chipotle chillis originated in Mexico, and the various states have their own variety of this spice.
Commonly used in: Mexican and Mexican-inspired cuisines, such as Mexican-American, Tex-Mex, and Southwestern dishes.
Add it to… Salsa, barbeque and hot sauces. The meat marinade of Adobo is basically chipotle that has been ground and combined with other spices. Otherwise, Chipotle is used in slow-cooked dishes like soups, stews, beans and lentils.
What it is: Jamaican Jerk seasoning principally contains two items: allspice and Scotch bonnet peppers. Other ingredients may include cloves, cinnamon, scallions, nutmeg, thyme, garlic, brown sugar, ginger, and salt. Here, meat is dry-rubbed or wet marinated with this very hot spice mixture. Jamaican Jerk chicken sound familiar?
Place of origin: No guesses here as the spice originated in Jamaica way back in the 17th century.
Commonly used in: Caribbean food, where jerk seasoning was traditionally applied to pork and chicken.
Add it to… Fish, shrimp, shellfish, beef, sausage, lamb, vegetables, and tofu.
What it is: Harissa is a Maghrebi hot chili pepper paste, which is a blend of roasted red peppers, Baklouti pepper, serrano peppers and other hot chili peppers and spices and herbs such as garlic paste, coriander seed, saffron, rose or caraway as well as some vegetable or olive oil for preservation.
Place of origin: A regular in Middle Eastern spice, Harissa is often called the national condiment of Tunisia and is made in Tunisia, Libya, Algeria and Morocco.
Commonly used in…Meat or fish stews with vegetables, and as a flavouring for couscous. It is also used for lablabi, a chickpea soup usually eaten for breakfast. Harissa paste can also be used to marinate meat or eggplants, and as a hot sauce in shawarmas, falafels, hummus or with a Mediterranean burger.
What it is: A member of the Capsicum genus, Piri Piri translates to pepper pepper (in Swahili). The sauce is made from crushed chillies, citrus peel, onion, pepper, salt, lemon juice, bay leaves, paprika, pimiento, basil, oregano, and tarragon.
Place of origin: It grows in Angola, Uganda, Malawi, South Africa, Ghana, Nigeria, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, the tropical forests of South Sudan and the highlands of Ethiopia. It is now being grown in Goa as well.
Commonly used in: Does Nando’s Piri Piri chicken or McDonald’s Piri Piri shake fries have you drooling?
Add it to… Portuguese-style grilled chicken or sprinkled over dishes—vegetarian and non-vegetarian—for the extra zing. Piri piri sauce is also commonly used as a seasoning or marinade for fish fillets, meats and poultry. Piri piri is excellent as a sauce, especially over burgers and salads, and adds moisture to the dry texture of many burgers.
What it is: Wasabi come from grating the root Wasabia Japonica. For the freshest wasabi, you must grate the root right before serving, as the wasabi will only hold its strong flavour for about 15 minutes after preparation. Most of the wasabi that’s served is unfortunately a mixture of horseradish, mustard and food colouring that has a strong burning aftertaste, as opposed to the fresh-tasting herb.
Place of origin: The roots of Wasabi have been traced back to Japan. Today, however, it is also grown in China, Taiwan, New Zealand, Australia and North America.
Commonly used in: Japanese food, especially in sushi (between fish and rice). It can be eaten raw in salads, pickled or even fried into chips.
Add it to… Mayo to make a dip. Wasabi powder is also added as a flavouring to Tortilla chips, peanuts and roasted chickpeas.