Ground Turmeric

Ground TurmericPronounced:TER-muh-rihk

The root of a tropical plant related to the gingerroot has a bitter, pungent taste and a bright yellow-orange color. Turmeric adds flavor and color to East Indian cooking and puts the yellow in American mustard.

Ingredient

Season: available year-round

How to select: Sold ground in supermarket spice sections.

How to store: In a cool dark place for up to 6 months.

Matches well with: beans, chicken, curry, lamb, lentils, paella, rice, shellfish

Substitutions: Saffron or dry mustard

Ground Cumin

Ground CuminAn aromatic spice with a distinctive bitter flavor and strong, warm aroma due to its abundant oil content. Cumin "seeds" are actually the small dried fruit of an annual plant in the parsley family. Native to the Mediterranean, cumin is hotter to the taste, lighter in color, and larger than caraway, another spice it's sometimes confused with. Sold whole or ground, the seeds come in three colors: amber, white or black. Amber is most widely available, but the black has such a complex flavor it should not be substituted for the other two. Cumin is a popular ingredient in Middle Eastern, Asian, Mediterranean and Mexian cuisines, and is one of the main ingredients in curry powder.

plural: cumin

Ingredient

Season: available year-round

How to store: Store in an airtight container and place in a dry, cool area, away from light. Flavor and aroma can be retained for up to six months.

Matches well with: beans, chicken, couscous, curry, eggplant, fish, lamb, lentils, peas, pork, potatoes, rice, sausages, soups, stews, eggs

Substitutions: caraway seeds (use half as much); or caraway seeds plus anise seeds; or chili powder; or Amber cumin seeds may be substituted for white cumin seeds and vice versa.

Paprika

PaprikaA red powder made from grinding dried sweet red peppers; used as a garnish and seasoning. The color varies from bright orange-red to deep red, depending on the peppers used. Most commercial paprika comes from Spain, South America, California and Hungary. Hungarian paprika is thought to be the finest, and will be labelled as from the Szeged region. In Hungary there are six classes or types of paprika ranging from delicate to hot. To maintain the stronger taste that consumers expect, some spice companies add cayenne to heat up Hungarian paprika. Commercial food manufacturers use paprika to add color. If a food item is colored red, orange or reddish brown and the label lists "Natural Color," it is likely paprika. Paprika releases its color and flavor when heated. Thus, sprinkling ground paprika over colorless dishes may improve their appearance, but does little for their flavor. Similarly, if you want to color the contents of a dish, stir the paprika into a little hot oil before adding.

Ingredient

Season: available year-round

How to store: Paprika deteriorates quickly, so it should be purchased in small quantities and stored in a cool, dark place for no more than 6 months.

Matches well with: cauliflower, chicken, crab, fish, goulash, lamb, potatoes, rice, shellfish, stroganoff, veal

Turmeric

The root of a tropical plant related to the gingerroot has a bitter, pungent taste and a bright yellow-orange color. Turmeric adds flavor and color to East Indian cooking and puts the yellow in American mustard.

Ingredient

Season: available year-round

How to select: Sold ground in supermarket spice sections.

How to store: In a cool dark place for up to 6 months.

Matches well with: beans, chicken, curry, lamb, lentils, paella, rice, shellfish

Substitutions: Saffron or dry mustard