January 20, 2009 12:00 am
Dishes from around the world have become an increasingly large part of the American diet. What’s more, many chefs now mix and match flavors, so that the lines between regional cuisines are blurred. With a little bit of knowledge, you, too, can easily add an international taste or exotic flair to the foods you prepare at home. Use the following list as a guide to transform beans and meat into a North African stew, or a simple stir-fry into a Thai-flavored treat. Don’t hesitate to experiment, but remember to start with small amounts, on the order of 1/4 teaspoon of ground spice or dried herb per four servings of food. You can always add more if you want a more intense flavor, but you cannot remove what you’ve already added.
Caribbean: cilantro, curry seasoning (see “Indian” below for contents; try combining with coconut milk for seafood), jerk seasoning (features allspice, chili powder, and thyme)
Chinese: cumin, black pepper, red chili pepper (fresh, ground, or red pepper flakes), sesame, five-spice powder (typically contains any of the following: cinnamon, star anise, fennel, clove, ginger, licorice, Sichuan pepper, and dried tangerine peel)
Eastern/Northern European: black pepper, anise (used to season sausage), dill (used in potato soup), clove, bay leaf, caraway
French: chive, tarragon, parsley, bay leaf, rosemary, marjoram, thyme, lavender, sage, celery seed
Indian: allspice, cilantro, saffron, curry seasoning (features turmeric, cumin, and coriander; may contain fenugreek, cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, fennel, black pepper, and chili powder)
Latin American: cilantro, chili pepper (fresh or ground), paprika, cumin, oregano
Middle Eastern/North African: bay leaf, cumin, ginger, cinnamon, coriander, chili powder, allspice, clove, anise, cardamom, nutmeg, saffron, sumac
Southern European/Mediterranean: basil, parsley, oregano, marjoram, sage, thyme, rosemary (used to season lamb)
Thai: basil, cumin, coriander, lemongrass, ginger, cilantro, white pepper, chili pepper (fresh, ground, or flakes)
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