Barbeque spices and herbs can help us to add a particular theme to a barbeque party. Chinese, for example. Or exotic Thai, the Old Wild West Chuckwagon Theme, swinging Caribean. Or exciting Mexico Lindo!
The best flavours and aromas come from far away? It is certain that our ancestors have travelled thousands of dangerous miles to bring home precious spices that brought variation to our daily bread. They even fought wars over it!
Spices enrich our kitchen and barbecue. Try to imagine life without pepper. Without cinnamon. Without bayleaf. Herbs and spices can make our barbecue cooking taste better.
Pepper (1) - Pepper Corns
Of all spices, Pepper Corns are without a doubt the most well known. Already for ages these little flavour bombs have been brought to places all over the world, and you can find them in any kitchen, right next to the Salt.
It is safe to say that the good-old mix of Salt and Pepper can be regarded as the Mother of All Dry Rubs.
Pepper (2) - Chiles
Besides Pepper Corns, there is also the extensive botanical family of the Chiles, or Chilis, Chilies, Chillies, or whatever you wish to call them.
White Mustard (Brassica Alba) and Yellow Mustard (Brassica Hirta) both probably originate from the South of Europe, but nowadays they can be found just about anywhere worldwide.
The colour of this Mustard seed varies from white to light brown.
Black Mustard (Brassica Nigra) en Brown Mustard (Brassica Juncea) originate from respectively the Middle East en Asia (from the foothills of the Himalaya?).
The seeds are coloured black to dark brown, they are a bit smaller than the white or yellow Mustard seeds, and taste a bit stronger.
Mustard seeds can be ground and squeezed for Mustard Oil or ground and purified to the well known Mustard Paste.
Dry ground Mustard seed is used in many kinds of curry powders, and is a very suitable ingredient in dry rubs for chicken and pork.
Besides the seeds and paste, you can also buy ready to use Mustard Powder. However, I prefer to grind my own fresh Mustard Powder in a mortar. To me, self ground Mustard Powder tastes much better!
Juancho's BBQ Tip:
It is very easy to roast Mustard seeds!
Heat a frying pan or skillet over medium heat, spread two or three tablespoons of mustard seeds over the hot bottom, and keep them moving around until they start popping.
Adds great taste and texture to your barbecue salad!
Coriander (Coriandrum Sativum) originates from the Middle East and North Africa.
Coriander is also generally referred to a "Chinese Parsley" or "Mexican Parsley", and in India it is named "Dhania".
In Mexican and South American cooking, Coriander is generally used as a fresh herb and named "Cilantro".
In Europe (and probably also in the United States?), the name Coriander generally refers to the dried seeds of the Coriander plant that have been imported from the Orient for ages.
The taste of the seeds ("Coriander") is sharp, sweetish, with hints of citrus, and not as strong and "soapy" as the taste of the fresh herb ("Cilantro").
I especially like Coriander in combination with lamb. Grinding can be done in a simple mortar.
Cummin has a very specific aroma and is especially popular in Indian and Mexican cooking. It is also used extensively in the Middle East, North Africa, Indonesia and China.
In India, Cummin - "Jeera" - is an important ingredient in many curries. In Indonesia it is named "Djinten".
In terms of shape and colour, Cummin seed looks a lot like Fennel seed, just a size smaller.
Personally I especially appreciate freshly ground Cummin powder in combination with lamb.
Cinnamon sticks are rolled up pieces of bark of the Cinnamon Tree.
It is used in many sweet dishes, but I also like it a lot on chicken and lamb.
Ground Cinnamon is also a very important ingredient in many Indian curries and in Chinese Five Spice Powder.
Cloves are dried flower buds, and have an exceptionally aromatic flavour.
Cloves are native to Indonesia but are nowadays used all over the world, especially in Indian cuisine.
Ground Cloves powder is also a very important ingredient in many Indian curries and in Chinese Five Spice Powder.
Cloves have a very strong taste and should be used with care.
Bay Leaf is used in cooking worldwide for its delicate taste and flavour.
Freshly picked Bay Leaves will acquire a better and stronger aroma after a few weeks of drying.
Bay Leaf comes in a few varieties and is used in soups, stews, meat dishes and vegetable dishes.
Not surprisingly, the taste of Star Anis or "Chinese Star Anis" closely resembles the taste of "European" Anis.
Star Anis are the fruits of an evergreen tree native to China. The seed pods form a star, therefore the name.
Ground Star Anis is also a very important ingredient in many Indian curries and in Chinese Five Spices Powder.
The shape and colour of Fennel seeds are just like the shape and colour of Cummin seeds. Fennel seeds are only a size bigger.
In india, ground Fennel seed - "Saunf" - is an important ingredient in many Indian curries. Fennel is also one of the ingredients in Chinese Five Spice Powder.
Ginger, as we know it, is the rhizome of the Ginger plant (Zingiber Officinale) which originates in China. Nowadays, Ginger is cultivated throughout South East Asia, India, West Africa and the Caribean.
In India, Ginger - "Adrak" - is an important ingredient in many curries. In Indonesia, Ginger is known as "Djahé", and used extensively in many sauces and meat dishes.
Ginger powder is also used sometimes in Chinese Five Spice Powder.
Ginger is sold as fresh Ginger root and as Ginger powder. When replacing one for the other, please note that the taste and strength of fresh Ginger root and Ginger powder are quite different!
Allspice corns are the dried unripe fruits of a Jamaican plant named "Pimenta Dioica".
Allspice is also named "Pimento" and "Jamaican Pepper". The English name "Allspice" refers to the combination of flavours that are united in these little taste-bombs, including at least the flavours of Cloves, Pepper, Cinnamon and Nutmeg.
Allspice is sold as whole corns (the dried fruits) or as a powder. The powder loses flavour and strength quite fast, that's why it is better to buy the whole corns and grind them yourself.
Allspice is used in many Caribean recipes. It is the most important ingredient in Jamaican "Jerk".
Allspice is a useful spice in barbecue sauces and dry rubs.
The Sesame is a flowering plant (Sesamum Indicum), that grows more than three feet high, and which is cultivated for the delicious seeds.
The Sesame plant is probably native to Africa, but nowadays can be found in just about all tropical countries worldwide.
The seeds have a lovely nutty flavour, slightly bitter, and are rich in healthy multi-unsaturated oil.
Sesame seeds are used in bakeries to decorate bread, or to make Sesame crackers.
For us barbecuers, Sesame seeds can be used as garnish, to add texture, and to add extra flavour.