If you collect all the Asian spices and herbs, your pantry will be full of it instantly. These are the must-haves of any Asian cuisine enthusiast. These exotic ingredients make the foods more distinctive and palatable.
Bay leaf is a very common ingredient among Indonesian, Pakistani and Indian dishes. This is a type of laurel leaf that can add flavor and spice to any food.
This is the key ingredient in garam masala, which is an infamous Indian curry spice blend. Bay leaves have a bitter taste that can be diffused by cooking.
When cooking, cloves are used in moderate amount. These dried buds of the flowering evergreen tree have very strong taste that can easily overpower a dish. You can both use these for spicy and sweet dishes. Cloves are very popular in teas and curries. These are oftentimes used in the whole form to give a wonderful flavor to a dish. Remove it before the food gets cooked. You can substitute it with mace or nutmeg.
Asafoetida is another famous Asian spice used to add taste and aroma. This pungent-smelling spice is comparable to sauteed onions, leeks and garlic. This is part of many Southern Asian cuisines, especially in Indian dals and vegetarian curries. Check this link for more information about India: https://india.gov.in/my-government/government-directory
Cardamom has a powerful, minty and flowery taste. Its small black round seeds are typically ground to make Indian cooking more flavorful. If you want its taste added to your food, but there is no available supply of cardamon, replace it with a mixture of half nutmeg and half cinnamon.
One of the most commonly used Asian spices is the curry leaf. The leaves of the curry tree are often mixed in coconut milk and fish curries. Curry leaf has a powerful bitter taste that turns subtle with cooking. This is a favorite addition to Pakistani, Indian and Sri Lankan dishes.
Lemon grass is present in teas, curries, and soups all throughout Southern and Eastern Asia. In some traditions, it is bruised and crushed, then combined to put flavor to the dish. You should remove it before the food is served because of its unpleasant fibrous texture. You can replace two (2) stalks of lemongrass with zest of one lemon.
On the other hand, the Chinese cuisine uses a lot of five spice powder. It is a fantastic combination of equal parts of cassia, cloves, fennel, cinnamon and SzeChuan pepper. You can use this to make stews, greasy meat dishes and fries more tasteful. Cassia, also known as Chinese cinnamon is a common Indian ingredient use to substitute common cinnamon.
The kaffir lime leaves taste and smell like citrus. Thi is considered as one of the favorite spices among Thais. These are mixed in Thai soups and curries. You can add them in a whole form, cok and then remove. You can also chop the kaffir lime leaves, cook and then eat. You can use lemon leaves or lime zest as an alternative.
Vietnamese cuisine is a huge fan of laksa leaves, which is also known as Vietnamese coriander, Vietnamese cilantro or rau ram. They typically crush these leaves and sprinkle on top of laksa soup. Laksa leaves present peppery taste with some hints of cilantro and mint. You can substitute it with equal amount of cilantro and mint.
Mitsuba is a widely used Japanese spice present in their salads and soups. Some people call it Japanese honewort, which also looks like cilantro. Use watercress if it’s unavailable.
Pippali or long pepper is a relative of white or black pepper, but a lot hotter. This long, thin, black fruit consists plenty of tiny black beads, which bear a resemblance of poppy seeds. Pippali is also an Ayurvedic herb used for Indonesian, Indian and Malaysian cooking. If you have no supply in the pantry, substitute it with peppercorns.
A stigma of the flower crocus sativus, saffron is the world’s priciest spice. It is a key ingredient to a variety of Indian and Central Asian luxury dishes. Saffron offers sweet flavor and golden color to foods. It is believed to make any dish taste extraordinary. No spice can ever replace the excellence of saffron.
Belong to the ginger family, turmeric has earthy, peppery spicy flavor. It is also used as a supplement for pain relief as in this product https://www.amazon.com/Turmeric-Curcumin-Extract-Standardized-Curcuminoids/dp/B00HNVB3Y6. Its yellow color makes it a favorite addition to almost any kind of curry. Many would dry and ground turmeric into powder form before mixing it with any dishes.