Culinary Anthropologist

herbs and spices

  1. Indian spices

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    Some nerdy facts about some of the spices used in Indian cooking, such as in this delicious tarka dal… Nigella seeds, otherwise known as ‘black cumin’ despite being nothing to do with cumin, are from a flower closely related to love-in-the-mist.  The Egyptians were some of the first to cultivate it, and must have valued […]

  2. A pepper pilgrimage

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    As ubiquitous as the aubergine is the pepper (biber), in all its versions:  red hot chilli peppers, fat bell peppers and numerous thinner green varieties.  The fresh green pepper – longer, thinner and paler than a regular bell, and sometimes with some pleasing heat – must be used in 8 out of 10 savoury Turkish […]

  3. Saffron

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    ‘Saffron’ comes from the Arabic ‘az-za’fran’, which in stems from a Semitic root meaning ‘to be/become yellow’.  Via the mediaeval Latin – ‘safranum’ –  the name spread to almost all European languages and many non European ones also.  The word is recognisable in Hindi, Amharic, Finnish, Japanese, Hebrew and even Basque, to name but a […]