Spices & blends

star anise

Star Anise is a warm, sweet, and aromatic spice. It comes from Southern China and the Middle East, and has been used as a medicine and as a flavoring for medicines since prehistoric times. It's also good for cough. The plant is productive only after 15 years, yielding three annual harvests. The pericarp contains the active principles, notably anethole and anisole, which are long-lasting provided they are kept in sealed containers. The odor is strongly aromatic, the taste similar to that of aniseed but somewhat more bitter. In Japan the bark of star anise is burned to release perfumed smoke.

Spice and tea flavoring. Also widely used to flavor liqueurs and baked goods in Western cultures. Serve with cream on top of chicken.


Mirfayz blends a very unique curry that includes fourteen spices: ginger, turmeric, allspice, cloves, cardamom, star anise, cinnamon, nutmeg, coriander, 2 sorts of cumin (Iranian and another kind from Tajikistan), white pepper, black pepper and chili. Curry comes in three styles - standard, medium and hot.

Excluding milk, used for anything, salads, stews, meat, vegetables, pasta, and sauces.

As for the tip, add to sauces and pour over chicken, shishkabab, and BBQ'd meat.


The most valuable cardamom comes from the rainforests of Malabar, obtained from a rush-like shrub growing to a height of 6½ ft (2 m), furnished with sturdy rhizomes and stems covered in lanceolate leaves. The fruits are trilocular, nut-sized capsules with 4-8 seeds. The species grows wild in the tropical mountain forests of southern India and is nowadays cultivated in India, Thailand, and Central America. They have an aromtic odor and a sweetish, warm, pungent taste.

Cardamom is used in the kitchen, for sausages, pastries, and in curry. The Arabs use it in coffee, as a symbol of hospitality, for it is one of the most costly of spices, after saffron and vanilla. The seeds may be chewed to sweeten the breath and for digestion.


Saffron is the orange-red stigmas attached to the base of the autumn-flowering crocus (Crocus sativus), in the Iridaceae (iris) family. Saffron has a pungent, earthy, bittersweet flavor and a unique, acid, haylike aroma. The saffron crocus is sterile and is propagated by dividing the corms (small underground bulbs). Saffron is legendarily the most expensive spice in the world by weight. However, because it's so concentrated, a few threads can flavor an entire dish. Seventy thousand flowers, gathered and cleaned by hand the same day that they open usually by the smaller fingers of women are needed to make one pound of dried saffron. Spain and Iran together account for more than 80 percent of world production of about 300 tons annually.

Saffron is essential for Mediterranean fish and seafood dishes such as bouillabaisse, paella Valenciana, and risotto alla Milanese. It flavors northern Indian binyanis, Persian rice pilaf, and some Indian milk-based sweets. Note that in large quantities (far more than is used in cooking), saffron is toxic. Unlike most spices, saffron is soluble in liquid. To extract the most color and flavor, soak it in a warm water, milk, broth, or white wine until the liquid turns bright yellowish orange, then add the liquid to a dish. It's healthy for heart.

Saffron should be bought whole from a reputable spice dealer as powdered saffron can be easily adulterated. Avoid cheap "saffron", which may come from safflower, turmeric, or marigold. The best saffron, that of Kashmir and Iran, includes only the deeply colored red-orange stigmas; less expensive saffron is bulked up with flavorless yellow stamens.


The Greek word for cinnamon was kinamon, the origin of which, as the specific name indicates, was Ceylon (Sri Lanka). The cinnamon tree, belonging to the family Lauraceae, grows to 35-50 ft(10-15 m), with broad branches bearing glossy, tough evergreen leaves, lanceolate and slightly furrowed, with veins parallel to the margins. The branches are cut in the rainy season, when the bark is easily stripped off from the woody part. The material is left to dry for 24 hours, then scraped so that the external upper part is removed, leaving the inside. The strips of bark are rolled up tightly in layers and left to dry, first in the shade and then in the sun.

Cinnamon is used for flavoring in confectionary, in pickles and for giving a special flavor to preserved fruit. It is very much used in pipe tobaccos and in various liqours.


Cloves are the rich, brown, dried, unopened flower buds of Syzygium aromaticum, an evergreen tree in the myrtle family. Cultivated widely in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Madagascar, Tanzania (Zanzibar), and Brazil, the species came originally from the Moluccas in the Indian Ocean. The spice was familiar in ancient times to the Chinese and the Romans, who prized it very highly. But only in 1500, with the increase in trade resulting from European sea voyages to the Indies, did cloves become better known and more widely used. The odor is aromatic, the taste pungent and burning because of the eugenol.

Used for flavoring desserts, fruit salads, mulled wine, and liqours. They are stuck in oranges hung in cupboards as a freshener. Whole or in powdered form they also help to relieve toothache.


Oregano is the dried leaf of Origanum vulgare L., a perennial herb of the mint family. It has a pungent odor and flavor and is originally from the eastern Mediterranean and now widely cultivated. Oregano contains thymol and carvacrol, two oils which have remarkable bacteria-fighting power.

With its aromatic scent and taste of mint, it is used in the kitchen for seasoning salads, soups, omelets, sauces and various main dishes, and as an official plant with sedative, spasmolytic, and emmenagogic properties; the dried leaves can be prepared as medicinal cigarets. All these plants moreover, are used for infusions and aromatic tisanes. Their essential oil is used in perfumery.


Ginger is a flavoring from a tuberous root of Zingiber officinale, a plant in the Ginger family. The root is often dried and ground or "crystallized" with sugar. It originates in India and Jamaica. Ginger oil, obtained by distilling fresh ginger, is utilized in the liqour industry; and in the cosmetics trade it is used in the preparation of oriental and floral scents.

Also used in cakes and cookies, fish, soup, ginger ale. When used fresh, ground or candied, it adds "bite" to foods.


Nutmeg is the seed of Myristica fragrans, an evergreen tree of 20-30 ft (6-10 m) in height. Although the tree takes seven years to bear fruit, it will continue to produce until its 90th year. This species furnishes the seeds, which constitute a highly prized essence, brought in ancient times by the Arabs to the Mediterranean region. The Portuguese, having circum-navigated Africa, had a trade monopoly in the spice, later taken over by the Dutch, who limited cultivation of the tree to the Moluccas. Today this area has expanded to include Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, the West Indies, and Brazil. Indonesia, the world's leading producer, sells 5,000 tons of nutmeg annually, followed by Grenada (West Indies) with 2,700 tons a year.

Used in eggnog, poundcake, stewed fruit, creamed spinach, Italian meat sauce. For the tip, best freshly grated; the outer shell is Mace.