A List Of Speciality Ingredients

Cooking is truly a constant learning process - the new terms, new ingredients and newer ways of cooking the same ingredients- all contribute to our knowledge base, every day. Though some ingredients are common throughout, there are some that are specific to or typical of a particular cuisine. Knowing these ingredients and the method to use them goes a long way in our journey through the world of food. A compilation of all of these into one comprehensive list is always welcome in my kitchen. So as an add-on to my previous running list of Cooking Terms, I created a second running list with a few of the speciality ingredients , that I have come across from various recipes and cookbooks. Thought I'd share this with you, as previously promised.


abóbora - This Brazilian pumpkin, is a member of the squash family.
allspice—The berry of a West Indian tree, used whole or ground. The flavor of allspice resembles a combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.
aniseed—Is the seed of the anise herb, which gives food a strong, aromatic flavor similar to that of black licorice. Aniseed is also called anise seed.
anise—The spice made from the seeds of anise, an herb that grows in the Mediterranean region. Its flavor is similar to black licorice.
apple cider vinegar—A vinegar made from apple cider.
avocado—The pulpy green or purple fruit of the tropical trees of the family Lauraceae. The tree is native to Mexico, Central America and Guam.


bulgur—Kernels of wheat that have been steamed, dried, and crushed.
barley—A whole grain that is often used to thicken soups.
basil—A rich, fragrant herb whose fresh or dried leaves are used in cooking.
bay leaf—The dried leaf of the bay tree (also called European laurel).
bittersweet chocolate—Dark chocolate made with less sugar than milk chocolate.
blanched almonds—Almonds with the thin brown skin removed.
bouillon cube—A compressed mixture of spices, seasoning, oils, and often a meat extract, used to make broth and add flavor to other foods.
bread crumbs—Pieces of stale bread broken into small chunks by crushing the bread. buttermilk—Cultured milk made by adding a certain bacteria to sweet milk.


capers—The small buds of a shrub that grows in the Mediterranean region and in Asia. Theyare usually pickled in vinegar .
caraway seed—The whole seeds of an herb of the parsley family, used to flavor foods.
cardamom seed—A spice of the ginger family, used whole or ground, that has a rich aroma and gives food a sweet, cool taste.
cassava flour—Flour made from the starchy root vegetable cassava, also called yucca.
catupiry - Soft, mild and creamy Brazilian cheese, with high fat content.(Contributed by Chef Paula)
cayenne pepper
—Dried red chilies (hot peppers) ground to a fine powder.
chard—A leafy green plant of the beet family.
chickpeas—A type of pea with a nutlike flavor. Chickpeas are also called garbanzo beans.
chives—A member of the onion family. The thin, green stalks are chopped and used as a garnish and a flavoring.
chorizo—Pork sausage.
cilantro—An herb used fresh or dried as a flavoring and garnish.
cinnamon—A spice made from the bark of a tree in the laurel family. Cinnamon is available ground or in sticks.
cloves—The highly fragrant dried flower buds of a tropical tree, used whole or ground as a spice.
coconut milk—A rich liquid made by simmering shredded coconut meat with milk or water.
converted rice—Rice that has been treated to preserve much of its nutritional value and that is fluffy when cooked.
coriander—An herb used ground as a flavoring or fresh as a garnish. Fresh coriander is also known as cilantro.
cornstarch—A fine white starch made from corn, commonly used to thicken sauces and gravies.
crushed red pepper—The dried crushed seeds and skin of a hot red pepper, used to season foods.
cumin—The ground seeds of an herb in the parsley family, used in cooking to give food a smokey flavor.
currants—Small, dried, seedless grapes similar to raisins.


dendê oil—The strongly flavored oil from the dendê palm tree, native to Africa.
dry mustard—A powder, made from the ground seeds of the mustard plant, that is used to flavor food.


eggplant—A vegetable with shiny, purple-black skin and light-colored flesh.


farina—A fine meal made from grain. It is used chiefly for puddings or as a breakfast cereal.
fennel—A plant with stiff, stalky stems similar to celery that produces seeds used to flavor foods. The stalks may be used in soups and salads.
feta cheese—A soft, crumbly white cheese that is commonly made with goat’s or sheep’s milk. Has a distinctive, salty taste.
field bean—A variety of white bean native to the Middle East. Also called Egyptian field beans.
fig—A sweet, ripe or dried fruit with many tiny seeds.
fish sauce - An extract derived from either dry or raw fish that has been allowed to ferment. (Contributed by Chef Paula)

gingerroot—A knobby, light brown root used to flavor food.
ground ginger—A tangy, aromatic spice made from the underground stem of the ginger plant.
ground rice—Rice that has been ground to a fine, flour like consistency.
ground round—Very lean ground beef.


hearts of palm—The tender stems of certain palm trees. Hearts of palm are available in the canned food section of most grocery stores.
hummus—A thick paste made of ground chickpeas, spices, and ground sesame seeds.


kale—A hardy, curled-leaf cabbage that does not form a dense head.


leek—An edible plant, related to the onion, that has a white bulb and long, dark green leaves.
lemon extract—A liquid made from lemons that is used to flavor foods.


mace—An aromatic spice made from the fibrous covering of a nutmeg.
malagueta—A Brazilian chili, or hot pepper.
manioc—A tuber (root vegetable), similar to the potato. Also called as cassava or yucca. (farinha de mandioca- Manioc flour , polvilho- Manioc starch).
mint—The leaves of any of a variety of mint plants, used fresh or dried in cooking.


nutmeg—A fragrant spice, either whole or ground, that is often used in desserts.
nigella seeds—A black, aromatic seed sprinkled on bread and pastries. Also called Black Cumin. nutmeg—A fragrant spice that is often used in ground form in desserts.


olive oil—An oil made by pressing olives, used in cooking and for dressing salads.
orange flower water—A flavoring made from distilled orange blossoms.
oregano—The dried leaves, whole or powdered, of a rich and fragrant herb that is used as a seasoning in cooking.
oyster sauce - Carmelized sauce prepared by cooking oysters in water till the broth condenses. Used in Chinese & Thai cooking. (Contributed by Chef Paula)


papaya—A tropical fruit with bright orange flesh. Papayas have a strong flavor that is both sweet and tart.
paprika—A red seasoning made from the ground, dried pods of the capsicum pepper plant.
parsley—A green, leafy herb used as a seasoning and as a garnish.
parsnip—A white root vegetable that looks like a carrot and tastes like parsley.
phyllo dough—A flaky pastry rolled into paper-thin sheets that are almost transparent.
pine nuts—A rich, edible seed that grows on some pine trees.
pistachios—A flavorful, light-green nut used to flavor many foods.
pita bread—Flat, round loaves of unleavened bread. When baked, a puffed pocket of air forms in the center of the bread.
plantain—A starchy fruit that resembles a banana but must be cooked before it is eaten.


quinoa—A highly nutritious pearl-like grain used in soups and salads.


red lentils—Tiny, orange-red legumes used to make soups and spreads in Mediterranean and Indian cuisine.
red wine vinegar—Vinegar made from red wine. Wine vinegars usually have a sharp, tangy taste, with a deep flavor.
rice flour—A flour made from ground rice.
rice wafers—Thin crackers, made from rice flour, that are used in Turkish desserts.
rosemary—The strongly flavored dried leaves of an herb in the mint family, used as a seasoning for meat, fish, and other dishes.
rose water—A liquid distilled from rose petals that is used to flavor food.


saffron—A spice, made from part of a crocus flower, that has a strong flavor and adds a yellow color to foods.
salt cod—Codfish that has been salted and dried to be preserved for long periods of time.
scallions—A variety of green onion.
sesame oil- Oil derived from toasted,hulled or cold pressed sesame seeds. Also known as gingely oil. Widely used in Southeast Asian cuisine.(Contributed by Chef Paula)
short-grain rice—A variety of rice with thicker grains that cook to asticky consistency.
slivered almonds—Almonds that have been split into thin strips.
Spanish fresh cheese (queso fresco)—A salty white cheese that crumbles like Greek feta or blue cheese, commonly used in Latin American cooking.
spicy brown mustard—A condiment made from mustard seeds, vinegar, seasoning, and spices.
superfine sugar—Sugar that is similar to common granulated white sugar but with finer grains.


tahini—A paste of ground sesame seeds.
tarragon vinegar—A vinegar made from a blend of distilled wine vinegars, salt, sugar, herbs, spices, and fragrant tarragon leaves.
thyme—The leaves of a bushy shrub that grows mainly in California and France. It is used as an herb in cooking and has a very strong flavor.
tofu—Fresh soybean curd, sold in cakes. Is a good source of protein.


vanilla extract—A liquid made from vanilla beans that is used to flavor food.
vegetable shortening—White, solid vegetable fat.
vegetable stock—A broth made by simmering vegetables in water until they are soft and their flavors and nutrients have been released into the liquid.


wasabi - Japanese horseradish with a strong hot flavor,most commonly used as a condiment for sashimi and sushi.white wine vinegar—A vinegar made from white wine.(Contributed by Chef Paula)
whole wheat flour
—Flour made without removing bran from the grain.
wonton wrappers—Thin pastry skins used in Asian cooking.


yucca—A root vegetable, similar to the potato. Also called cassava.
yeast—An ingredient used in baking that causes dough to rise and become light and fluffy.

zaatar—A mixture of wild thyme, sesame seeds, Lebanese sumac seeds, and salt.
zest—The very outer peel of citrus fruits such as lemons, limes, or oranges.

Hope this list is helpful to you as much as it has been to me. Any feedback or contributions to this list is appreciated.


Cakespy said...

WOW, what a great guide! Thank you for sharing!!!

Eskay said...

The team at Cakespy, thank you for stopping by. Glad you liked the list and found it useful.

Paula VB said...

Your list is great, I was surprise to find something like dendê oil that very few people heard about it! But the culinary world is endless... so I have few suggestion to add to your list: oyster sauce, fish sauce, sesame oil, wasabi and Catupiry (Brazilian cheese). Best!

Eskay said...

Thank you Paula. Your suggestions sound great, will have them on the list soon.