A Glossary of Essential Spices Utilized in International Cuisines

Author: Orest . | | Categories: Catering

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In the world of catering, the intricacies of a recipe maybe overwhelming to understand because of the usage of spices. Understanding how spices taste, their names and how they enhance the flavor of a dish are imperative in our field of work. To help you understand the different spices used in catering, Oryan Catering has created this handy reference guide. Here you’ll find valuable information about the various types of spices used in an array of cuisines.


Turmeric is a flowering plant of the ginger family, Zingiberaceae, the roots of which are used in cooking. Turmeric powder has a warm, bitter, black pepper-like flavor and earthy, mustard-like aroma.


Celery seeds are light brown in color, with a scent that resembles grass or hay. The seeds have a strong, warm, bitter and astringent flavor and go well with tomatoes and vegetable juices.

Hungarian Paprika.

Hungarian Paprika is a ground spice made from dried red fruits of the larger and sweeter varieties of the plant Capsicum annuum, called bell pepper or sweet pepper. Hungarian variety of paprika is generally accepted as superior to the rest. Hungarian paprika peppers are sweeter than others because of the country’s cool growing season, which retains sugar in the spice. Surprisingly you can use it in sweet and savory dishes.

Pink Himalayan Salt.

Pink Himalayan Salt is classified as rock salt or halite, which comes from the Punjab region of Pakistan about 190 miles from the Himalayas. Himalayan salt contains over eighty-four minerals and trace elements, including calcium, magnesium, potassium, copper, and iron, so it does more than just make your food taste better.


Oregano is a culinary herb, used for the flavor of its leaves, which can be more flavorful when dried than fresh. It has an aromatic, warm, and slightly bitter taste.

Culinary Lavender.

Culinary Lavender such as Lavandula angustifolia has the sweetest fragrance among all species of lavender, which creates flavor in cooking.


Rosemary is a woody, perennial herb with fragrant, evergreen, needle-like leaves and white, pink, purple, or blue flowers, native to the Mediterranean region. It is a member of the mint family Lamiaceae, which includes many other herbs.


Cardamom is a spice made from the seed pods of various plants in the ginger family. Cardamom has a strong, pungent flavor and aroma, with hints of lemon, mint, and smoke.


Ginger, also known as Zingiber officinale, is a flowering plant that is closely related to turmeric and cardamom. Ginger is a hot, fragrant spice made from the rhizome of a plant. It is chopped or powdered for cooking, preserved in syrup, or candied.

Nigella seeds.

Nigella seeds are tiny black seeds that have a slightly bitter taste with some of the pungency of onion but also offer many other subtle nuances of flavor.


Saffron is a spice derived from the flower of Crocus sativus, commonly known as the “saffron crocus”. The vivid crimson stigmas and styles, called threads, are collected and dried to be used mainly as a seasoning and coloring agent in food.


Sumac is a spice commonly used in Middle Eastern cuisine. It comes from the berries on Sumac bushes. Ground Sumac is a versatile spice with a tangy lemony flavor, although more balanced and less tart than lemon juice.


Galangal is an Asian plant of the ginger family, the aromatic rhizome of which is widely used in cooking and herbal medicine. It has a zingy and spicy flavor.

Caraway Seeds.

Caraway seeds are used to spice and flavor dishes such as roasted vegetables and can also be incorporated into the dough for bread. The Caraway seed comes from the family as fennel. It tastes like dill. The flavor is intense, use a little.

If you’re looking for the best full-service catering company in Guelph, ON, reach out to the experts at Oryan Catering. We offer our services across Guelph with Brampton, and Mississauga to the east and Kitchener, Cambridge Brantford, to the west and points north up to Mount Forest. We are committed to working through your ideas and menu suggestions to specifically satisfy your needs, and our dishes are designed to please both the eye and the palate.

With over forty years of experience in the catering sector, we can arrange everything from venue selection to floral arrangements, entertainment, rentals and of course, an outstanding menu.

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