Middle Eastern cuisine is renowned for its bold and diverse flavours, thanks in no small part to the region’s rich culinary heritage and the use of a wide range of aromatic and flavourful spices. The use of spices is an essential aspect of Middle Eastern cooking, and many of the most popular dishes from the region rely on the unique flavours and aromas that spices provide.
In this ultimate guide to Middle Eastern spices, we will explore the most popular spices used in the region, their unique properties, and the dishes they are commonly used in.
So, here is the Middle Eastern Spices guide, which will help you get the authentic flavour in your cuisines, let’s check them out:
The Middle Eastern Spices
It is among the oldest and finest spices known to people. Having its origin in the oldest Egyptian civilization, it has been used for medicinal and cooking purposes. It is also known as aniseed and is used for its sweet licorice-like flavour in a variety of culinary dishes, such as soups, stews, and baked goods.
Anise is also used as a natural remedy for digestive issues, coughs and even as a sleeping aid. It has a tangy flavour, which gives a lemony kick to different food and cuisines. Anise is a versatile plant with a long history of use in both culinary and medicinal applications.
Aleppo pepper is a type of chilli pepper named after the city of Aleppo in Syria. It has a medium heat level and a unique, fruity flavour with hints of cumin and sun-dried tomatoes. Aleppo pepper is a staple spice in Middle Eastern cuisine, and it is commonly used to add flavour to salads and render moderate heat to dishes such as meat, vegetables, and dips.
The pepper is also used to make a flavorful condiment called Aleppo pepper paste, which is made by grinding the dried peppers into a paste with olive oil, garlic, and other spices. Aleppo pepper is a popular ingredient among food enthusiasts and chefs alike, and it is known for its versatility and distinct flavour.
Cumin is a popular spice in Middle Eastern cuisine and is made from the dried seeds of the cumin plant. It is adopted by nations like India. It has a nutty and earthy flavour with a slight bitterness that pairs well with meats and vegetables. Cumin is commonly used in meat dishes, stews, and spice blends like ras el hanout.
Cumin is also believed to have medicinal properties and has been used for centuries to aid digestion, reduce inflammation, and boost the immune system. In addition to its culinary and medicinal uses, cumin is also used in traditional herbal medicine and aromatherapy.
Coriander (Coriandrum sativum) is a herb and spice that is widely used in cooking around the world. It has a citrusy, slightly sweet flavour and is commonly used in curries, soups, stews, and other dishes. The leaves of the coriander plant are known as cilantro and are a common ingredient in Indian, the Middle East and Southeast Asian cuisines.
Coriander seeds are also used in cooking and are often toasted before being ground into a powder. Coriander is believed to have medicinal properties and has been used to treat digestive issues, inflammation, and high cholesterol. It is a versatile spice with a distinctive flavour, making it a popular ingredient in many different types of cuisine.
Cardamom is a spice from the ginger family and is widely used in many cuisines worldwide. It is native to India and is now grown in several other countries all across the world. It is among the most costliest spices in the world and is also known for its rich aroma and mildly sweet and soothing taste. There are two main types of cardamom: green and black.
Green cardamom has a fresh, herbal flavour with a slightly sweet undertone, while black cardamom has a smoky, resinous flavour with a menthol-like freshness. Both types are often used in sweet and savoury dishes, including curries, desserts, and tea. Cardamom is also known for its potential health benefits, including improving digestion and reducing inflammation.
The Middle Eastern Spice Blends
Baharat is a spice blend commonly used in Middle Eastern cuisine. The name Baharat translates to “spices” in Arabic, and the blend typically includes a combination of cumin, coriander, cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, and black pepper. Other ingredients such as allspice, paprika, or cloves may also be added, depending on the region and recipe.
Baharat adds a warm, slightly sweet and spicy flavour to dishes, and it is often used in stews, soups, marinades, and tajines. It is also a popular seasoning for rice dishes and vegetables.
In addition to its flavour, Baharat has been associated with numerous health benefits, including anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
Za’atar is a versatile Middle Eastern spice blend known for its tangy and fragrant nature with some traces of nuttiness. It combines sumac, sesame seeds, thyme, and other herbs. It has a savoury and slightly tangy flavour that pairs well with vegetables, bread, and meats.
Za’atar is often sprinkled over the top of grilled vegetables and flatbread. You can also use it in dips, including hummus, ghanoush and tzatziki, apart from being used with pita using olive oil.
Nutty Dukkah is an Egyptian spice blend that has recently gained popularity as a versatile and flavourful seasoning. The blend typically includes toasted nuts (such as hazelnuts, almonds, and pistachios), sesame seeds, coriander, cumin, and salt. Some variations may also include spices like fennel, thyme, or sumac.
Nutty Dukkah adds a rich, nutty flavour and crunchy texture to a variety of dishes, including salads, roasted vegetables, and grilled meats. It can also be used to sprinkle the mix on feta cheese, pasta, roasted vegetables, and fresh fruit.
Fiery Harissa is a North African spice paste that has become popular worldwide for its bold and spicy flavour. The paste is typically made from a blend of salt, sweet paprika, cumin, a dash of vegetable oil, caraway seeds, and dried garlic.
Fiery Harissa is a great addition to many dishes, including stews, pizzas, soups, marinades, and even scrambled eggs. It can be used as a condiment for sandwiches or burgers or added to mayonnaise or yoghurt to create a spicy spread or dressing. Harissa is also known for its potential health benefits, including its high levels of vitamin C, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory properties.
Why Should You Buy Middle Eastern Spices & Blends?
Buying Middle Eastern spices and blends is a great way to add new and exciting flavours to your cooking. Middle Eastern cuisine is known for its use of bold and aromatic spices that can transform ordinary dishes into something extraordinary.
Spices like cumin, coriander, cardamom, and sumac are common in Middle Eastern cooking, and they can add a unique flavour and depth to your meals.
Middle Eastern spice blends are popular and offer a complex blend of flavours that enhance the taste of meats, vegetables, and grains.
Middle Eastern spices and blends are often associated with numerous health benefits, such as anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Overall, buying Middle Eastern spices and blends can expand your culinary horizons and add both flavour and health benefits to your cooking.
Middle Eastern spices are crucial to the region’s cuisine and have gained popularity worldwide for their unique and bold flavours. The Ultimate Guide to Middle Eastern Spices has provided an overview of some of the most common spices and blends used in Middle
Eastern cooking, including their flavour profiles and potential health benefits. Visit our Mediterranean restaurant in Sydney,Arabella to enjoy the authentic flavours of the Middle East.