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The aromatics of spices

Aromatics add flavour, aroma and depth to dishes and include herbs, spices and vegetables (and sometimes meat).

Without a good aromatic foundation which builds the style and personality of a dish you’ll end up with a dish that lacks punch and probably a plate half eaten.

As they form the base of the dish aromatics are heated in some fat such as butter, oil, or coconut milk at the beginning of a dish. The heated fat helps the aromatic ingredients release their addictive aromas and develop flavour into the dish being prepared.

Typical dishes which require a solid base of aromatics are sauces, braises, curries, rice dishes, sautés, stir-fries, soups, stews, and stocks.  The most popular aromatic combinations by ethnic cuisine include the following: ingredients:

  • Cajun – The Holy Trinity –onion, celery, green bell peppers with oil or butter
  • Chinese – Garlic, scallions, ginger with cooking oil
  • French – Mirepoix – onion carrots, celery with butter
  • Indian – onions, garlic, ginger, chillies with ghee
  • Italian – Soffritto - onion, carrots, celery with olive oil
  • Latin – Sofrito – garlic, onions, bell peppers, tomato with olive oil
  • Middle Eastern – garlic, tomatoes, onions, scallions, raisins with cooking oil or clarified butter
  • Thai – Curry Pastes – Shallots, garlic, chillies with cooking oil or coconut milk

Aromatic plants and spices are also considered beneficial for our health due to their high antioxidant content which eliminates all those free radicals and pollutants from our systems. The best thing to do is include antioxidants in your diet through regular use of aromatic herbs and spices.

There are numerous ways to incorporate spices into your cuisine as the flavour combinations cater to different preferences and palates so make sure you keep your favourites on hand.

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