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Acacia seed

A small, oval, black variety of the wattle seed. It is roasted and milled to be used in a wide variety of foods including soups, meat rubs, ice-creams and baked goods.

Acetic Acid

An organic acid better known as vinegar.

Acidulated Water

Water to which an acid substance such as lemon juice or wine vinegar is added. Once peeled, vegetables such as celery and artichokes can be immersed in it to stop them from going brown.


Based on seaweed and used as a stabiliser or thickener in many food products, agar-agar is a vegetarian alternative to gelatine. It is sold in many of the large supermarkets in powder form, as flakes and as bars.


Also known as ajwain, ajowan caraway, carom seeds or mistakenly as bishop's weed, it is a plant of Indian and the Near East whose seeds are often used as a spice. It has an intense thyme-like flavour and a zesty kick.


A relish made from grilled red capsicum, eggplant, garlic and olive oil. Available in hot and mild variations, it is often served with grilled and roasted meat in Croatian cuisine.


Fritters made from black eyed-peas that are eaten as snacks either at home or as street food.


Also known as bush tomatoes or desert raisins, these tiny tomato-like berries are yellow when ripe but are mostly available commercially in dried form - whole or ground - as a brownish-red fruit with a taste similar to sun-dried tomatoes.

Al Dente

An Italian phrase used to describe the texture of pasta, rice and vegetables as tender or soft on the outside but still firm 'to the bite'.


The white of an egg.


A mild Ethiopian curry sauce featuring garlic and ginger, turmeric and pungent spices.


The pea-sized berry of the evergreen Pimiento tree, native to the West Indies and South America. In Jamaica, it is also known as Jamaica pepper. Tastes like a combination of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves and is used in both sweet and savoury dishes.


The kernel of the fruit of the almond tree. There are two main types of almonds - sweet and bitter. The sweet almond is delicate and slightly sweet. Bitter almonds are more strongly flavoured and contain traces of lethal prussic acid when raw. Processed bitter almonds are used to flavour extracts and liqueurs.


Amaranth was a sacred food of the Aztecs. In Asia, varieties have been grown as a green vegetable since the beginning of time. It is a tall plant with broad leaves that produces many thousands of tiny seeds. Both leaves and seeds are edible. The greens have a good, slightly sweet flavour and can be used both cooked and raw. The seeds are used as a cereal or can be ground into flour. Amaranth seeds and flour can be found in health food, Caribbean and Asian shops.


Crisp, airy macaroon biscuits that are made with bitter-almond paste or apricot-kernel paste.

Anaheim Chillies

Mild, long green chillies named after the area near Los Angeles where they were once grown. Available canned (whole or chopped) or fresh. Mexican cooks also like to dice or purée them, and then add them to sauces, soups, and casseroles.

Ancho Chillies

Dried poblano peppers that are very commonly used in Mexican cuisine. They're brownish-black and wrinkled wrinkled and large and green when fresh. A mild, slightly sweet .

Anchovy Sauce

Anchovy Sauce (Mam nem) is widely used in Central and Southern Vietnamese food. It's a mixture of fermented salted anchovies and sold in a bottle as a condiment. It is very strong in taste and smell and is normally diluted when used to make the sauce of the same name.


A biennial herb used mainly in dessert cooking. It is often used to add to fruit when cooking to reduce the need for sugar, such as in jams and preserves. Candied angelica is commonly used in cake and dessert decoration. It can also be steamed and eaten as a vegetable.


A small, annual plant that is a member of the parsley family. The leaves and seed have a distinctive, sweet liquorice flavour. The anise seed flavours a variety of confections, savoury dishes and drinks.


Annatto (achiote), commonly used in South American cooking, is a red seed with a mild earthy flavour. It is used in cooking for both colour and flavour and can also be used to dye fabric. It is sold as a pressed block. Commercially produced, annatto is used to give colour to cheese such as Cheshire and Leicester and also smoked fish such as mackerel and kippers.

Arborio Rice

A medium- to long-grain rice, it absorbs a lot of cooking liquid yet still retains a good bite in texture. This classic risotto rice hails from the north Italian region of Piedmont.

Argan Oil

Oil from the Argan tree, which is indigenous to Morocco. Related to the olive tree but has a distinct flavour of its own.


Extract of the maranta root it is a flavourless starch, ideally used for thickening sauces, juices and syrups. When heated the starch turns to jelly and so thickens the liquid.


The bud of a large plant from the thistle family with tough, petal-shaped leaves. Boil the vegetable to serve as a first course. Dip each leaf into melted butter, mayonnaise or a vinaigrette and scrape of the soft fleshy base with your teeth.


A bitterish, aromatic salad green with a peppery mustard flavour. Also known as rocket.


Asafoetid is a dried gum resin from a root plant of the fennel family. Frequently used in Indian cooking, some religious sects use it to replace onion and garlic as it gives a similar flavour. It is sold as a yellow powder and has an unpleasant smell when uncooked. It is also a digestive aid and reduces flatulence a natural remedy for a diet high in beans and fibre.


Ashta is a form of clotted cream made by skimming boiling milk. Used in many Lebanese sweets, especially nuraset or ladies arms and Rose of Damascus.


Aspic comes in three varieties: powdered meat-flavoured gelatine; plain or coloured jellied aspic; and cold dishes consisting of ingredients bound in jellied aspic. It can be used as a garnish to glaze and protect fish and other foods from drying out (the clear aspic allows any decoration to be seen) and to set savoury foods in a mould.

Australian Coffee

The sub-tropical climate around Byron Bay is perfect for growing the arabica beans prized for a fine, mild coffee.


A tree native to Puebla, Mexico, avocados are the fruits of the tree (botanically a large berry containing a seed) that is now cultivated throughout the world. They are high in monounsaturated fats with a buttery texture and nutty flavour. Traditionally used to make salsas and guacamole.


A cold drink made with yoghurt often thinned with either milk or water and flavoured with salt. In Turkish cooking it is traditionally served with kebabs.


An aubergine (eggplant) puree made with garlic and Tahini that is popular all across the the Middle East.

Babas au rhum

A small French yeast cake saturated in liquor, usually rum, and sometimes filled with whipped cream or pastry cream.


A sweet Polish yeast bread that commonly has almond and raisins. Other recent variations feature chocolate and cinnamon.

Baby Corn

Tiny tender ears of corn that are available both fresh and canned. They require little cooking and add more colour and texture than flavour.


The Portuguese word for salted, dried codfish, a staple in Portuguese cuisine. Bacalhau must be soaked over 24 hours before use. It is said that there is a different dish using bacalhau for every day of the year.


Arabic for ‘spice mix’, this all-purpose blend consists of pimento, white and black pepper, and lots of cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. It is used to enhance the flavour of fish, chicken, beef and vegetables, particularly bamya (okra), tomato sauces and soups.


This popular rich, sweet and dense Greek and Turkish pastry is made from layers of filo pastr and nuts and sweetened with honey.

Balsamic Vinegar

Real Balsamic Vinegar is dark, thick and syrupy with a complex, sweet taste and is much more expensive than common vinegars. It originated in the Modena region of Italy.

Bamboo Shoots

There are two varieties of edible bamboo shoot (mang). The fresh bamboo shoot is yellow and has a strong smell. It contains a toxic acid and cannot be eaten raw. The canned version is more readily available. Bamboo shoot adds an unmistakable crunch to many dishes. The dry bamboo shoot is brown and should be soaked in tepid water for 2 days before cutting and cooking.

Bamboo Steamer

Essential in Asian cooking for steaming dim sum, vegetables, fish etc. Place food to be cooked on a plate in the steamer and sit into a wok over simmering water. Available in many sizes.

Banana Bell or Blossom

Banana Bell or Blossom is the flower of the banana plant. The tough outer leaves are discarded and the inner part finely shredded. This is then soaked in water with lemon juice to prevent browning. It has a crunchy texture and nutty flavour and is used in salads. The fresh blossom is much better than the canned version in terms of taste and texture.


Bananas are the common name for the herbaceous plants of the genus Musa and the fruit they produce. They come in a variety of sizes and colours when ripe, including yellow, purple and red. A worldwide contender for the most popular fruit, besides being enjoyed raw the world over, they are used green in curries, cooked with sugar to fill lattice-topped sweet tarts and fried to perfection to make beignets.

Bánh mì (bánh mỳ)

A popular Vietnamese sandwich consisting of a crusty baguette filled with thinkly sliced pickled carrots and daikon, cucumbers, cilantro, chillis, pate, mayonnaise and various meat fillings or tofu.


A member of the perch family, barramundi is native to Australia but not an indigenous fish as such, as they are found across Asia and as far as the Persian Gulf. They are estuary fish, often farmed in northern Australia but the wild-caught variety is available only in season. Wild barramundi, however, will feed in the mangroves and river systems alike and have a cleaner taste than the rather more earthy-flavoured freshwater fish.


Basil (basilico) is an Italian herb used to flavour sauces, salads and added to pizza after cooking and is perhaps best known for its use in the popular Italian sauce pesto. It is more pungent and vibrant when fresh but can also be used dried in cooking.

Basmati Rice

A variety of long-grain rice grown in India and Pakistan that has a fragrant, delicate taste. Its name means ‘the fragrent one’ in Sanskrit.


A white ocean fish that comes in three varieties - silver, sea and striped - sold as steaks and fillets. Can be barbecued, grilled, steamed, poached or baked.


A highly seasoned, air-dried cured beef that is popular throughout the Middle East. It is usually coated with spices and served thinly sliced, similar to pastrami.

Bay Leaves

Bay leaves are one of the few herbs that don't lose their flavour when dried, rather the flavour becomes more intense. Can be bought as whole dried leaves or ground and is also popular as a fresh herb.

Bean Sprouts

Bean sprouts (Gia) are the fresh sprouts of the mung bean. They are used in stir-fries, noodle soup dishes and spring rolls. They are added at the end to keep them crunchy. They must be stored in iced water and kept in the refrigerator where they will last for a few days if the water is changed daily.


Beans (frijoles) - Pinto and Black turtle beans are the main types. Black turtle beans are used to make refried beans.

Bearnaise Sauce

A classic French sauce that is made of clarified butter emulsified in egg yolks and flavoured with shallots, white wine and/or vinegar, peppercorns and herbs, typically tarragon and chervil. A traditional accompaniment to steak (as in Steak Bernaise), which is also served with other grilled meats or fish.

Bechamel Sauce

A white sauce made by thickening milk with a roux (a cooked mixture of flour and fat). A basic bechamel may be a mother sauce for many other sauces; seasoned bechamel is a finished sauce.


Belacan (also known as Blachan) is dried shrimp paste which is pressed into a block. It has a pungent, unpleasant smell, but once roasted the odour isn't as strong and the paste adds a beautiful depth of flavour to many dishes. Cut a small amount from block, wrap in foil and place in a hot oven or hold over flame using tongs. Then cool and crumble. An essential ingreident in many South East Asian cuisines.


A hot spice mix that is used widely in stews and sprinkled on top of many dishes. It always contains hot red (cayenne) pepper and fenugreek and can also include cardamom, cumin, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, coriander, allspice, rue berries, and ajowan.

Betel Leaf

These glossy, dark green heart shaped leaves have a slightly bitter taste and are mostly used as a wrapper for a filling of cooked meats.

Biber Dovme (or Dovme Biber)

A semi-dried crushed red chili that is an essential spice in Turkish cooking.

Biber Salcasi

Literally ‘pepper paste’, a thick, deep red paste made from either hot or sweet red chili peppers and salt that is widely used in Turkish cooking.


A signature Korean dish (literally 'mixed meal') that consists of a bowl of warm white rice topped with sauteed and seasoned vegetables and chili pepper paste to which a raw or fried egg and sliced meat is added. The ingredients are stirred together just before eating.


A Maltese dip made from dried broad beans cooked and mashed with garlic, hot pepper and anchovies and eaten with crusty bread.


A Filipino sweet made with glutinous rice cooked in coconut milk with a caramel topping.

Birds Eye Chillies

A general term for extremely pungent and spicy tiny chillies. Sometimes used to describe Thai chillies that are Mexican in origin.


A rice-based dish made with spices that may be vegetarian or made with meat or fish. It originated in Iran (Persia) but was brought to the Indian Subcontinent by Iranian travellers. It is now popular throughout South Asia and the Middle East.


Italian biscuits flavoured with aniseed, chocolate or almonds. They are hard and crunchy - ideal for dipping in dessert wine or coffee.


Shellfish soup thickened by roux as well as by a puree of its main ingredient.

Bitter Melon

A hard gourd thought to have health benefits. It looks like a fat, knotty cucumber. Green and firm, it has a very crisp texture and strong bitter taste. It is often pickled. Before cooking, the seeds and inner membrane are removed and the external shell is sliced into small, crescent shaped pieces and braised or added to soups. It can also be hollowed out, stuffed with minced pork and steamed. An essential ingredient in Brazilian cooking.

Black Beans

Black beans (Feijoa) and white rice form the basis of the staple 'plate' in Brazil and depending on where you're from, it is likely to be either black or brown beans. Black beans are one of the key ingredients in the national dish, 'feijoada'.

Black Butter

Made by browning butter in a pan and adding lemon juice and parsley. Usually used as an accompaniment to fish, particularly skate and plaice.

Black Forest Cake

Known in Germany as Schwarzwälderkirschtorte, historians believe the cake had its beginnings in the late 16th century in the Black Forest Region of Baden-Württemberg. This province is known for its sour cherries and Kirsch or Kirschwasser (a double distilled, clear cherry brandy made from the sour Morello cherry). Black Forest Cake combines these cherries with rich, dark chocolate and cream.

Black Limes

Also known as Basra or Omani limes, these are sun-dried limes from the Middle East, used in stews or to make tea.

Black Mustard Seed

Black Mustard seeds come from the Brassica Nigra mustard plant and are the most pungent type of mustard seeds. They are frequently used in Indian cooking to add depth of character and spice to curries and dhals.

Black Peppercorns

The precursor to the chilli in Asia before their introduction by Columbus, black peppercorns are the dried unripe berries of the pepper plant and are essential to Sri Lankan cuisine.

Black Rice

A type of rice where the outer bran layer has not been removed. The raw grains have a charred appearance and when cooked, the grains are the colour of blackberries.

Black-Eyed Peas

A legume used frequently in African and South American cooking that is small, pale and round with a black spot, hence the name.

Blackstrap Molasses

Unrefined molasse that is characterized by an especially strong taste and greater nutrient value.


A type of Russian pancake traditionally made from buckwheat flour and served with caviar.

Blue Swimmer Crab

While blue swimmer crabs have been know to grow to over 22cm in width and one kilogram in weight, the average size varies between populations. The male crabs are generally bigger with a vibrant blue or purple colouring whereas the female crabs are less colourful and brown. The majority of the market is whole frozen crabs being sent to Japan.


The Hungarian equivalent of the Aussie barbecue -- a heavy, cast iron kettle used to cook outdoors. Resembling a witch's cauldron with its rounded sides, the bogracs sits over fire and is a central part of camping and special celebrations such as weddings. Cook-off competitions are held during summer and recipe secrets fiercely guarded as the best gulyas and fish soup (Halaszle) are judged.

Bok Choi / Pak Choi

A leafy-green Chinese vegetable belonging to the cabbage family. It is best suited to brief stir-frying or steaming to keep its mild flavour.

Bombay Duck

Dried fish from India and Bangladesh that is crumbled over stews and curries.


A frozen dessert made by lining a special mould with ice cream or sorbet. The centre is filled with a mousse, cream or parfait mixture. The mould is tightly sealed and the dessert is frozen solid before unmolding and serving.


Bonito is a large, oily fish that comes from the same family as tuna and mackerel.


A Turkish essential, Borek is a thin flaky pastry filled with cheese and spinach that is rolled into a long sausage then arranged in a spiral and baked.

Borlotti Beans

A large, plump bean, pinkish brown in colour with reddish brown streaks. It is readily available dried it is widely used in Italian cooking.

Borsch or Borscht

A thin soup made with beets and other ingredients in many variations that is typically served with a good dollop of sour cream. Russian or Polish in origin.

Boueuf Bourguignon

A traditional French dish, also called Beef Burgundy after the region it is from, of beef braised in red wine, garlic, pearl onions and mushrooms and a bouquet garni.


A fish soup or stew made of several kinds of fish and shellfish cooked together in a tall pot with olive oil, flavour builders, water and sometimes white wine. Traditionally associated with the Provence region of France, especially Marseilles.

Bouquet Garni

A combination of vegetables, herbs and spices used in making light stocks. The bouquet garni of classical stock making uses celery, onion, carrot, leek, parsley, bay leaf, clove, peppercorns. Ideal for flavouring soups, stews and stocks during cooking and removed before serving.

Boureki (burek)

A Turkish/Greek dish originating in the Ottoman Empire of baked or fried pastries made of yufka (phyllo) dough and filled with cheese, minced meat or vegetables.


Known as 'beef olives in English,this is a Maltese dish of a rolled stuffed piece of meat cooked slowly.

Braise or braised

A cooking style in which food is typically first seared at a high temperature and then cooked slowly in a covered pot with liquid. Braising uses time, heat and moisture to break down the tough connective tissue collagen in meat, making it an ideal way to cook cheaper, tougher cuts.

Brazil Nut

A large nut with a very hard shell, cultivated in Brazil and Paraguay. The white kernel is very nutritious with a high fat content and can be eaten raw or used in cooking in the same way as coconut.


An Italian-inspired seafood stew that is popular in Croatia. Traditionally served over soft polenta.

Brown Onions

A key ingredient for many dishes including the famous French onion soup. Look for firm onions with shiny papery skin. The Mako region in Hungary lays claim to an ingenious method of cultivation which is said to produce superior quality onions.

Brown Sugar

May be dark or light, the darker variety contains more molasses and has a stronger flavour.


An unusually shaped grain, a little like a diamond in shape. It is not a cereal but a broad-leafed leguminous plant. Buckwheat is used ground for Japanese soba (buckwheat noodles) and in many European cultures.

Buffalo Mozzarella

Buffalo milk is high in vitamin A, milk solids and calcium and makes fresh mozzarella like no other. To make the cheese, curd is melted, stretched and rolled according to a technique perfected in the marshy Campania region of Italy (around Naples). The buffalo, of the Riverine species, were imported to Australia from Italy but originated in India.


Literally 'fire meat' in Korean, Bulgogi is a traditional Korean dish in which meat -- typically beef, although chicken and pork are sometimes used -- is marinated, sliced thinly and cooked over a charcoal grill.


Usually made from durum wheat, it is similar to couscous and used in salads and pilavs and in Lebanese cooking to make tabouleh and kibbeh.


A large flour tortilla warmed on a hot plate and then filled with a combination of cheese, beans, rice, meat and salsa. The sides are folded in and then it is rolled up firmly. Cook on a hot plate (seam aside down) until golden and crisp.

Bush tomato

A small tomato-like fruit, also known as a desert raisin, bush tomatoes can be eaten fresh or dried (but be aware that the green fruit are toxic). They have an intense, earthy tomato flavour. Use sparingly to add flavour to sauces, soups, casseroles and stews.


Churned cream which is then washed to remove leftover buttermilk and improve texture and flavour. The addition of salt improves the shelf life. French butter is often slightly fermented for an extra depth of flavour. It is essential to many of the traditional sauces, to saute for pastry, for baking and of course to spread on crusty French bread.


Cabbage is eaten raw and finely shredded in the famous cabbage coleslaw with a simple vinaigrette dressing, as an accompaniment to grilled meats or as preserved leaves (sauerkraut), for making cabbage rolls and hearty soups.

Cabernet Vinegar

A red wine vinegarthat is made from cabernet grapes.


Candelnuts look like macadamia nuts and have a high oil content and a creamy texture. Inedible in their raw state, they are a common addition to curry pastes and sauces as they help thicken the sauce.


A Sicilian pastry consisting of a deep-fried dough tube and traditionally filled with sweetened ricotta and candied fruits and peel.

Cape Gooseberries

A small, smooth round fruit wrapped in its own papery case that resembles a Chinese lantern. They can be unwrapped and eaten as is or dipped in melted chocolate and served after dinner with coffee. They make excellent jams, jellies and purees. Also known as physalis.


The pickled flower buds of a shrub native to the Mediterranean and parts of Asia. Capers are usually preserved in salt and rinsed before use to remove excess salt. Their pungent flavour adds piquancy to many sauces and condiments (eg tartare sauce), and they can be used as a garnish for meat and vegetable dishes and in tapenade. They are essential in the ultimate Maltese/Mediterranean open sandwich - hobz biz-zejt.

Carambola or Star Fruit

Carambola or Star fruit (Khe)come in the colours yellow, orange or green. Cut into cross sections to reveal its star shape, it is intensely juicy. Eaten raw and finely sliced, the young star fruit has an acidic taste and is often served on a Vietnamese vegetable platter along with unripe, sliced banana.

Caraway Seeds

Thought to be one of the oldest spices in Europe, caraway seeds have an anise-like flavour and aroma and are a key ingredient in liptauer some variations of meat stews such as gulyas, soups and breads.

Carbon Steel Wok

A thick, heavy type of wok that is typically inexpensive to buy but does need to be 'seasoned' before use and oiled frequently.


An aromatic spice from southwestern India. The spice has a pungent aroma and a warm, spicy-sweet flavour and is widely used in Scandinavian and East Indian cooking. In Indian cooking, black cardamom has a smoky flavour and is integral for Rogan Josh. The green is used more in desserts and sweets and is an important ingredient in Garam Masala.


A large stalky vegetable, related to the artichoke, the cardoon is very popular in France, Italy and Spain and can be found from midwinter to early spring. Stalks should be firm and have a silvery grey-green colour. To prepare, remove tough outer ribs, cut the inner ribs into 8cm/3in slices and soak in acidulated water to prevent browning. Cardoons can be boiled, braised or baked. Pre-cooking for about 30 minutes in boiling water is suggested in many recipes. Though high in sodium, cardoons are a good source of potassium, calcium and iron.

Carne Seca

Carne Seca is literally translated as dried meat, the term carne seca encompasses varying cuts of beef that are salted and cured.


Literally "little meats", a Mexican dish of braised or roasted (often after first being simmered) pork.


Native to the Middle East, carob is the fruit of an evergreen tree. They grow in pods about 20cm/8in long and ripen from green to brown and contain hard, brown seeds. In the Middle East, the sweet pods are chewed raw, and are used as animal feed. Carob beans are also ground and used as a healthier alternative to chocolate and coffee as they contain no caffeine or oxalic acid, and only half the fat of cocoa. The flavour is sweet and treacly, so is excellent in baking.


Considered a pest by many Australians, the European carp inhabits many of the continent's waterways. It is however prized by many communities including the Chinese and some Middle Eastern nationalities.


An Italian dish, served as a appetizer, of very thin shavings of raw beef fillet, served cold with olive oil and lemon juice or with a mayonnaise or mustard sauce. Capers and sometimes onions often garish this dish.


The fruit of the cashew tree, originally from South America but widely cultivated in India and other tropical countries since the 16th century. The nut contains a smooth creamy-white kidney-shaped kernel that is rich in vitamin A and has a high fat content.


Cassava is a long, tapered tuber, cassava has a pinkish brown-skin with milky white flesh. It is the third greatest source of carbohydrate in the world and an essential part of Brazilian cuisine. It can be fried as a side dish, slow cooked with ribs or made into flour and baked in breads and cakes.

Casserole Dishes

Used extensively in French cooking, they should be heavy based with a lid that is also ovenproof.


Cassia (que thanh) comes in powdered form or as bark and is used as an aromatic spice in some marinades for roasted chicken, roasted duck or beef braises.


Stew made up of dried white beans, pork, lamb, goose or duck, sausage, vegetables and herbs.


The fatty 'wrapping' that lines the abdominal cavity of a pig, looking rather like a net of white fatty tissue.

Cayenne Pepper

A fiery hot red chilli pepper that is used as a seasoning or flavouring.

Cazuela (Cassola)

Terracotta cookware with straight sides and glazed inside which distributes the heat evenly. Often used for slow cooking in the oven and on top of the stove. Smaller versions are used in Spnish cooking for the classic dish of garlic prawns.


A large root vegetable with a taste of celery, celeriac is sold without its leaves. To prepare, peel like potato, rinse and keep in acidulated water until ready to use. It can be mashed, roasted, boiled, steamed or made into soup. Shredded, blanch for a few minutes in boiling water and then cooled, it can be served as a salad with a vinaigrette or piquant dressing. It is the main ingredient in the classic French remoulade.

Celery Flakes

Dehydrated celery used in soups, sauces, salads, dips, and stuffings.

Celery Salt

Salt mixed with the pungent dried seeds of the celery plant.


A Balkan dish of two types of grilled minced meat hand-shaped into 'sausages'. Often served with flatbread, chopped onion, cottage cheese and sour cream.

Chaat Masala

A sour blend of spices typically including amchur (dried green mango powder), dried ginger, cumin, coriander and black pepper and used in Pakistani cooking.

Champignon De Paris

Button mushrooms used raw in French cooking in salads and classic dishes like boeuf bourguignon.


A collective term in French cuisine meaning cooked meat, such as rillettes, terrines, pate, confit, and saucisson.


France produces the greatest number of cheeses in the world and in French cooking it is always enjoyed at the end of a meal. The cheese trolley is often regarded as a mark of a restaurant's quality - begin with the mildest in flavour and work your way around. Basic categories include: a) White and red mould (washed rind) - brie de meaux, camembert, livarot and munster b) Chevre - cabecou, pouligny saint-pierre, crottin de chavignol c) Blue vein - Roquefort, fourme d'ambert d) Hard cheese - gruyere, beaufort e) Medium-firm - saint-nectaire, morbier, cantal. In Spanish cooking cheese (queso) is associated more with the northern regions of the country where the main dairy producing area is located. There are many types of cheese produced in Spain including blue and soft cheeses, made from cows, sheep or goats milk. Two of the more popular ones are: a) Manchego - a hard, dense sheep milk cheese with similar characteristics of parmesan cheese. This is probably the most popular cheese in Spain. b) Mahon - a semi-hard cow's milk cheese. It has a piquant flavour. In Portuguese cuisine, mild goats' cheeses are the most popular.


Cherries are in season in Australia from October each year - peaking in the summer months. There are numerous varieties grown commercially - starting with the early croppers such as Burgsdorf (a smaller, light red variety) and Chapmans (sweet, dark and heart-shaped). Other varieties include Rons - a magnificent dark, eating cherry, Eagles - an old-variety, bright-coloured eating cherry and the Empress, large and dark. Nutritionally, cherries are high in bio-flavanoids,a strong anti-oxidant that is considered more potent than vitamins A, C and E. They originated in China and are now grown around the world. They are particularly popular in America which is a major exporter of frozen cherries.


Aromatic herb of the carrot family. It can be used in cheese dishes, egg dishes, soups, and salads.


An autumn crop that can be eaten raw, roasted or boiled after removing the tough outer skin. Chestnuts grow in cooler climates and come in a round spiky case.

Chickpeas (garbazo beans)

An edible legume that is high in protein and was one of the earliest cultivated vegetables. There are two main varieties of chickpea - the smaller, brown desi and the creamier, white-coloured kabuli - more sought-after for its nutty flavour and firm flesh.


The roasted ground root of the chicory plant, related to the radicchio and curly endive.


Chillies were first grown in South America, their individual temperatures can range from one to ten on the chilli heat scale and each variety has its own distinct flavour and uses. Dried and smoked chillies also take on a very different taste from the fresh variety and are used in very different ways. As a general rule, the smaller the chilli, the hotter it will be. Red chillies are simply green chillies which have been left to ripen. Green chillies are more peppery and the red have a slightly sweeter heat. If you prefer a milder flavour, keep them whole and remove before serving or remove the seeds and membranes before chopping. There are several chilli varieties now being grown in Australia. Imported dried, canned and smoked chillies are also sold here, mainly in gourmet and fine food stores. Chilli is an essential ingredient in many cuisines including Indian, Thai, Singaporean, Mauritian, Malaysian, Korean, Sri Lankan, Mexican, Pakistani and Vietnamese. Thai Some of the most popular are a long dried red chilli which is soaked in water for about 5 minutes before using. It's not too spicy and is used more for colour. A smaller dried red chilli which is quite hot (second hottest) is usually added because of the heat. Also there are fresh chillies including Thai scud chilli which is very hot and another called Prik Ki Nu (translated as 'Rat Poo') because of its shape. Singaporean Large or small, but usually red, chillies are an integral ingredient of most dishes, especially Singaporean chilli crab. Mauritian Green or red, but mainly large, chillies are eaten from a young age in Mauritius. A common snack crushes them with salt to sprinkle over slivered, crunchy green mango. Mexican Chillies are the main flavouring ingredient in Mexican food. Both fresh and dried forms are used. Most dried chillies need the stem and seeds removed and are then placed into warm oil until they change colour, then simmered in hot water for 10 minutes.

Chilli Paste

One of the numerous fermented Korean seasonings, chilli paste or 'gochujang' is made from dried chillies, salt, fermented soybeans and rice powder to produce a dark red spicy paste added to soups and stews, marinades and dolloped on dishes like bibbimbap and bulgogi.

Chilli Powder

A powder made from ground dried chillies which varies in heat and flavour depending on the type of chilli used.

Chilli Sauce

In Vietnamese cuisine chilli sauce (tuong ot) is made of fresh pimentos, ground garlic, salt, sugar and vinegar. It is used as a table condiment and for seasoning in soups, green papaya salad or anything else you may fancy.

Chinese Cabbage

A large, frilly-leaved cabbage also known as wong bak.

Chinese Sausages

Known as lap cheong, these are sweetish, dried and smoked pork sausages a little like thin salami sticks. They are used sliced in many stir-fries and noodle dishes and will keep for a long time if refrigerated.

Chocolate Con Churros

A crisp stick of fried dough dusted with icing sugar. Churros are served with thick, rich hot chocolate just perfect for dunking.


An old-time Aussie favourite, native to South America where it is known as chayote. A green, slightly spiky fruit with mild, white flesh. It was used as a pie or jam filler during the Depression years in Australia but is delicious fried or au gratin (in a mornay or bechamel sauce).


Chorizo sausage is made from pork and flavoured with garlic and paprika which gives it a rich red colour. It is smoked and can be bought fresh or dried.

Choy sum

A common Chinese green with long slender stems and leaves. It has small yellow flowering heads.


A Portuguese and Spanish term referring to beef or grilled meat and a principal ingredient in the cuisines of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Nicaragua, Uruguay, and other Latin American countries. The related term churrascaria (or churrasqueria) is mostly understood to be a steakhouse.


Cinnamon or Cassia Bark is harvested from the bark of the cinnamon tree. Cinnamon is much finer than cassia. Cinnamon has a pleasant sweet aroma and taste and is used in both savoury and sweet dishes.

Cinnamon Quills

The outer bark peelings of the cinnamon tree whose fineness is seen as the mark of superior quality.

Cinnamon Sugar

Combination of sugar and ground cinnamon. Can be used to sprinkle on sugar cookies, baked apples, and buttered toast.


A classic French dessert consisting of black cherries suspended in a thick batter. Variations use other fruits.

Clarified Butter

Butter cleared of its water content through heating and then straining. It can then be cooked to higher temperatures without fear of burning.

Clay Chatty

A deep lightly glazed clay bowl used in Sri Lankan cuisine to cook directly on the heat.


A large knife that varies in shape but usually resembles a rectangular-bladed hatchet. It is used mostly for hacking through bones as a kitchen knife or butcher knife, and can also be used for crushing via its broad side, typically garlic.


Iranian filled biscuits.


The dried flower bud of a type of myrtle tree, the name clove is taken from the French clou meaning nail. Highly aromatic and strongly flavoured, they are used sparingly in both whole and ground form for both sweet and savoury dishes.


The coconut palm (cocos nucifera, to give it its botanical name) is an evocative symbol of tropical paradise. But it's also a healthy source of vitamins, minerals and other trace elements, useful for juice and fruit (and for making coconut milk and cream) and also for housing, making food utensils, even jewellery and mats.

Coconut Cream and Milk

Coconut cream is made by grating coconut flesh with water, then straining and pressing it. The cream is from the first extraction and is thicker. More water can then be added to the coconut flesh and pressed a second time to produce the lighter coconut milk.

Coconut Grater

There are a variety of graters: some are a curved metal spike that is attached to a bench top or low stool, another looks like a metal citrus juicer with teeth.

Coconut Oil

A fragrant cooking oil to be used sparingly due to its high saturated fat content.

Coffee Pot or Briki

A metal pot with a long handle used on the stove top to make a thick rich coffee in Greece and Turkey.

Collard Greens

A bitter flavoured plant that is similar to kale or spinach, and a staple vegetable of cooking in the American South.

Comino Seed

A plant related to the carrot. Aromatic, somewhat bitter seeds of the Comino, used in chilli powders, pickles, spare ribs, and other meat dishes.


A dish of dried or fresh fruit poached in syrup, generally with added flavouring or liqueur, and served hot or cold.


One of the oldest methods of preservation and a speciality of southwestern France, confit is a generic term referring to food that has been immersed in a substance for flavour and preservation. Confit of goose and duck, in which the meat is salted and seasoned with herbs then submerged in its own rendered fat, are classic French dishes.

Cooking Sake

A brewed cooking wine, sake is loved for its flavour in marinades and sauces and is cheaper than sake bought in a bottle store.

Copper Pots and Pans

Used extensively in French cooking, they should have a heavy base which holds and spreads heat well. Enameled cast iron is also good. Iron and aluminum are poor heat conductors and tend to discolour food.

Coq au vin

A classic French dish in which chicken is braised with wine, onions, lardons, mushrooms and garlic.


Coriander is the world's most commonly used herb. Native to southern Europe and the Middle East, the plant is now available worldwide. Both the fresh leaves and seeds are used. The herb has a fresh taste, similar to orange, and is an important ingredient in curry.

Coriander seeds

The dried seeds of the coriander plant are used widely in South East Asian cooking and are essential in all masala mixes.


Cornflour is the starch extracted from maize, which is then soaked and ground to separate the germ and the bran.A fine white powder that has no taste, it is used to thicken sauces.


Smooth, thick fruit or vegetable sauce (apricot, raspberry, red pepper). It can be used to enhance the flavour of a sauce or may itself be used as a sauce.


Couscous is known as a gift from Allah and is a staple of North African countries. When prepared traditionally, fine semolina is rubbed with super fine semolina to coat until it resembles a grain. When steamed it becomes light and fluffy.


A deep, metal cooking pot with two compartments, in which couscous is traditionally cooked. The bottom section is used to cook meat or vegetables. The top section, in which couscous is steamed – making it light and fluffy, fits snugly over the base. You can substitute a metal steaming basket that fits over a large saucepan.

Crepe Pan

A crepe pan is a very shallow, almost flat fry pan specially designed to make crepes. A must in all French kitchens.


An elaborate French pastry dish that is frequently served at weddings, baptisms or communions. It consists of a high cone of choux pastry filled with cream that is dipped in chocolate and caramel and decorated with sugared almonds, chocolate, flowers, ribbons or small macarons.


Traditionally a festive Italian appetiser. Baguette-style bread is thinly sliced and lightly toasted and then topped, usually with a moist spreadable pate made from a variety of ingredients such as mushrooms, chicken livers, capers, garlic and ham.


A small cube of bread fried with herbs and spices, then drained and cooled used as a garniture for soups and salads.


Raw vegetables, thinly sliced or grated, served as an appetizer or, with a dip, as a snack. Crudites include carrots, celeriac, cucumber, sweet peppers, red cabbage, celery, fennel, tomatoes, mushrooms and radishes.


A spicy smoked Hungarian sausage that can be boiled, fresh, dried or smoked and is mixed with different spices and flavours ranging from mild to hot.


Related to the parsley family, cumin seed is gathered from the dried fruit of the cumin plant. Its warm, earthy flavour features in most spice blends, including curry powder and garam masala. It is available in seed and ground form. Cumin is featured in Middle Eastern lentil and lamb dishes and Latin American dishes such as chilli and tamales.

Curry Leaves

Picked from a tree related to the citrus family, curry leaves are often fried in oil before using in curries and chutneys in Indian and Sri Lankan cooking. Although also available in dried or powdered form, they are at their aromatic best when fresh.

Curry Powder

Ceylon curry powder gets its colour, aroma and distinctive flavour from dark roasting of its spice components, including coriander, cumin, fennel seeds, fenugreek and cardamom. Sri Lankan curries are generally classified as white (mild and rich in coconut milk), red (rich in chilli powder or ground chillies) or black.

Custard Apple

Also known as cherimoyas, custard apples originated in South America and are now grown across South East Asia, Africa and Australia. In their natural habitat, custard apple trees grow to a large size and are often found on the edge of the rainforest.


From the squid and octopus family, a cephalopod, cleaned and used in similar ways to its relatives.


A long white Japanese vegetable of the radish family. It is mild and crunchy and good in salads. Unlike other radishes it is as good cooked and raw.

Damascus Rose

A Middle Eastern pastry consisting of baked filo pastry topped with eishtar or ashtar, a clotted milk cream, and drenched in sweet syrup.

Dark Soy Sauce

Dark Soy Sauce is the light soy that has been left to ferment further, this process develops the flavour and intensity but reduces the saltiness. Use where a thicker sauce is needed such as braised dishes (especially with dark meats like beef) and heartier spicy stir-fries. It also adds a rich caramel brown colour to food.


Referred to as the defining ingredient of Japanese cuisine, dashi is a delicate golden stock made from a combination of konbu (dried giant kelp) and flaked, dried bonito fish (katsuobushi). Also available in ready made liquid and dried instant form.


The stoned fruit of the palm tree, eaten either fresh or dried and sold in their clusters or in boxes. Dates are rich in sugar and also contain calcium, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium and vitamins B and B2. Often eaten raw as a sweet snack, they can also be chopped and added to cakes and biscuits.

Demerara Sugar

A pale-coloured and mild-tasting raw cane sugar named after Guyana, its place of origin.

Dende Oil

Dende Oil is often described as the heart and soul of Brazilian cuisine, palm oil is a native product of West Africa, brought to Brazil by African slaves. An extract of the kernel, it gives a distinctive red-orange colour and rich flavour to many Bahian dishes. Look for it in Portuguese butchers or delicatessens.

Desiccated Coconut

The dried, grated flesh of a coconut.


Dhal starts out as whole beans, peas and lentils and become dhal when they have been skinned and cooked. They are a staple of Indian cooking and are high in both protein and fibre. There are many varieties of dal including; urid, mung, toor and masoor to name just a few.

Dholl Puri (or Dahl Puri)

A popular Indian and Mauritian street food consisting of a flat bread with a thin layer of yellow split peas, which are then rolled up with a variety of pickles, cooked vegetables and chutneys.

Dijon Mustard

Pale yellow in colour with a creamy, smooth consistency and mild flavour, Dijon mustard is used in sauces, rubbed on roasts and whisked in the classic vinaigrette dressing.


A perennia, aromatic herb similar to caraway. It's fernlike leaves are best used fresh and are used to flavour many foods, including gravlax (cured salmon), soups and pickles.

Dill Weed

A pungent herb of the carrot family. Often used in fish dishes, potato dishes, soups, and sauces.


A fermented crepe or pancake made from rice and black lentils that is a popular staple across southern India and Sri Lanka.

Dovme Biber

An essential ingredient in Turkish cooking. Dovme Biber is semidried, crushed chilli. Look for one that is slightly oily.

Dragon Beard Candy

A unique Chinese specialty now made by only a handful of candy masters worldwide. A ball of corn-syrup toffee is worked and stretched until it separates into filament-fine threads. The threads are rolled around a nut mixture and served as a melt-in-the-mouth sweet not unlike fairy floss in texture.

Dragon Fruit

Dragon fruit (thanh long tuoi) comes in two varieties - one with bright red flesh and the other white, both have tiny black seeds. Although it can be bland in flavour it makes a striking addition to a fruit platter.

Dried Chilli

Chile peppers are often dried to preserve them for long periods of time and then may be ground to a fine powder. Sometimes dried chiles are reconstituted before being ground to a paste.

Dried Plums

Dried plums are also known as prunes, although prunes come from a particular type of plum. They impart a sweet and sour flavour and are often used in dishes like biryani.

Dried Prawns

Finely blended to a powder or soaked and ground, tiny sun-dried prawns add a great depth of flavour to many Southeast Asian dishes.

Dried Shrimp

Dried Shrimp are tiny dried prawns used in Southeast Asian cooking, such as Malaysian laksa pastes and sambals.

Drumsticks / Murunga

A long, ridged dark green pod with a slightly bitter flavour which is a popular ingredient in vegetable curries, particularly kiri hodi or white curry. Discard the outer skin before scooping out the pulp in the soft centre.


A nutty Egyptian spice mix, made by mixing roasted nuts (typically hazelnuts) with seeds and spices. It is often used as a dip with bread and olive oil.


A large, green, spiky, southeast Asian fruit about the size of a football. The durian has a sickening smell - many airlines refuse to transport it. The creamy, slightly sweet flesh, however, has an exquisitely rich, custardy texture.

Durum Wheat

Durum has a dense structure, a high protein content and high gluten strength. The kernels are larger, more elongated and more golden-orange in colour than other varieties and the endosperm is a unique yellow colour.


Fresh and saltwater fish not unlike a snake in appearance. The main species in Australia are the short and long finned variety. Eels breed in salt water then migrate to inland rivers and dams many thousands of miles from their spawning grounds.


A simple dish made by drizzling egg across a skillet or griddle in a net-like pattern. The Eggnets can then be rolled around any kind of sweet or savoury filling.

Elephant Garlic

Milder than regular garlic and larger, this is actually a member of the leek family but is used as garlic would be.


Large rectangular pies of olive-oil pastry with meat or fish filling that are served as tapas in Spain. The classic empanada comes from Galicia in northwest Spain and is made with chicken, onions and peppers.


Curly endive is a frilly, fine salad leaf with a slightly bitter taste, also known as frisee. Endive is also the French word for witlof, a smooth oval leafy vegetable that is usually served cooked.


Thin slice of meat, often beaten thinner for quick cooking. One method used to prepare veal escalopes is to coat them with breadcrumbs.


A French appetizer of cooked land snails, usually sauteed in garlic butter.


Eschallot are comprised of a cluster of golden papery-skinned bulbs, eschallots have a more delicate and sweeter flavour than their onion relation and are one of the many examples of the French influence in Mauritian cuisine.

Essence or Extract

Concentrated aromatic extract. Commonly used are vanilla pods, almonds, anchovies or coffee beans are used to flavour and enhance foods, and also available in synthetic form.


A type of dried pasta that is shaped like bow ties or butterflies.


A Lebanese summer salad combining fresh summer vegetables, dressed with lemon juice, olive oil and sumac spice and garnished with baked or fried pieces of Lebanese bread.

Fava Beans

Fava beans or broadbeans are hugely popular in Egypt. This ancient staple is eaten for breakfast (Ful Medames) and split fava beans are used in Egypt’s version of the falafel called tameya.


A slow-cooked Portuguese stew typically made of beans, beef and pork that is considered Brazil's national dish.


Falafel is a fried ball or patty usually made with chickpeas, coriander and spices.


There are two main types of this aromatic plant, both with pale green, celery-like stems and bright green, feathery foliage. Florence fennel, also called finocchio, has a broad, bulbous base with a mild aniseed flavour and is treated like a vegetable. Both the base and stems can be eaten raw in salads or cooked by braising or roasting. Common fennel is a herb. Its greenish-brown seeds and leaves both have a strong aniseed flavour that complements fish, especially oily varieties such as mackerel or herring.


Related to clover, fenugreek can be eaten as a herb (the leaves) or as a spice (the seeds). It is commonly used in many commercial curry powders and consequently the taste of fenugreek is often associated with curry.


Feta is traditionally made from sheep's or goat's milk and now cow's milk varieties are also available. The cheese is salted and cured in a brine solution.

Feteer meshaltet

A fluffy pastry in which the dough is hand-stretched and folded upon itself in thin layers, brushed with ghee and then baked. Feteer is used in both sweet and savoury dishes.


A summer to autumn fruit best suited to hot dry summers and cool wet winters.Varieties included Black Genoa, the classic purple-skinned, deep red-fleshed fig; Brown Turkey, which is brown outside with pretty pink aromatic flesh and the very sweet White Adriatics, with white-green-pink flesh.

Filo Pastry

Filo Pastry is tissue thin sheets of pastry which need to be brushed with oil or melted butter before cooking. Used in many ways to wrap or roll fillings which can be either sweet or savoury. Originally from Turkey, it is thought to have been introduced to Hungary in the 16th century where its use translated from baklava and borek to the making of strudel.

Finger Limes (Citrus Australasica)

The Australian Finger lime (Citrus australasica) is a True Citrus Fruit Tree in the sub-tribal group Citrinae, in the Rutaceae family. It is unique to the subtropical coastal region of north-eastern Australia. The natural distribution of the Finger lime is from the Richmond River, in northern NSW to Mt Tambourine in Queensland. It is found growing in the subtropical rainforests as a small understorey tree, with an average height of 6m. It has a narrow, spindly form, axillary thorns and angular branches.

Fish Herb

Fish herb is considered by some as an acquired taste as it has a definite fishy smell and flavour. Often used in soups.

Fish Sauce

An essential ingredient of Southeast Asian, particularly Thai, cooking, fish sauce is a pungent, salty liquid made from fresh anchovies.

Five Spice Powder

An aromatic spice blend that typically contains star anise, Szechuan pepper, cinnamon, cloves, and fennel seeds.

Flat Wok Shovel

Called a 'chan'. A versatile tool used to flip and toss ingredients when stir-frying, also used to measure sauces and remove cooked food from the wok to a serving plate.

Flaxseed Oil

A therapeutic oil high in Omega-3 fatty acids, made from the seeds of the flax plant.

Fleur Du Sel

The grand cru of salt: the first white crystals in the salt formation process which began more than 2700 years ago most famously in the Guerande peninsula in Brittany.


Florets are the small, individual flower stems that make up the heads of vegetables such as broccoli and cauliflower.

Foi gras

A somewhat controversial French dish (literally 'fat liver') in which the liver of a duck or goose is deliberately fattened via force feeding to make it extremely tender and flavourful.


A creamy white substance created by kneading cooked sugar syrup. Used as a filling for chocolates, or a frosting for cakes, petit fours, or pastries. Also flavoured and made into individual sweets.

Forest Mushrooms

Forest Mushrooms include the the popular saffron milk cap (lactarius deliciosus) which is a bright orange colour with distinctive darkening rings, with reddish-pink gills (the underside) and the boletus portentosus or slippery jack, which is dark brown on top with bright yellow spongey gills. The spores originally came from Europe when pine seedlings were transported here for planting. Mushrooms like these can be found in the pine forests across south eastern Australia.


Formaggio (cheese) falls into two main categories sweet (dolce) or with bite (picante).


A raspberry liqueur with a high alcohol content.

Fried Tofu

Firm tofu cubes that have been deep-fried. While they can be bland in flavour on their own, when added to dishes such as soups or curries these little sponges soak up the flavour.


See Endive.


An Italian omelette with a variety of fillings - potatoes, mushrooms, pumpkin, ham, and cheese are often used. Unlike a French omelette, the ingredients are mixed with the eggs rather than being folded inside them. The frittata is cut into wedges and eaten hot or cold.

Fry Pan

A fry pan has sloping sides for browning and tossing small food.


A kind of thick porridge, closer to mashed potato in consistency, and used as an accompaniment to any African stew. Fufu can be made with cassava meal, ground plantain (a starchy fruit similar to a large green banana), yam, millet or even corn.

Ful medames

A dish of slow cooked fava bean, often eaten for breakfast, which are said to be a ‘stone in the stomach’, capable of sustaining a worker all day.


A dried, spiral-shaped pasta.

Gai Lan

Gai Lais also is also known as Chinese broccoli and has thick mid-green stems. A very popular vegetable dish in Chinese restaurants, simply steamed and served with oyster sauce.


A member of the ginger family, also known as laos root. It has a woody texture and is used to give flavour to Thai and other South East Asian cuisines. The flavour is similar to ginger, though somewhat sharper and the root has a harder woodier texture.


A rich mixture of semi-sweet chocolate and boiling cream, stirred until smooth. The proportions of chocolate to cream may vary, and the resulting Ganache may be used as a cake glaze, or beaten until fluffy and used as a filling or base for other chocolate confections.

Garam Masala

A mixture of ground spices that is used as a base for many Indian dishes. Basic ingredients are typically cumin, coriander and turmeric, but other spices that may be included are peppercorns, mace, cinnamon, cardamom, star anise, and nutmeg. Composition varies widely across India and depending on whether the dish includes meat, vegetables or fish.


Allium sativum, commonly known as garlic, is a species in the onion genus, Allium. Its close relatives include the onion, shallot, leek and chives. It is used liberally in many dishes across many cuisines to add a heady, pungent flavour. Garlic also has health benefits, including being a natural antibiotic and containing antioxidants.

Garlic Chives

Garlic chives (he) are dark green flat chives with a garlic flavour and aroma.

Gas Burner

This is a free standing circular burner that you connect to a gas bottle.

Gateaux piment

A Mauritian street food of falafel-like spiced, fried split pea cakes.


An uncooked puree/cold soup of salad vegetables sometimes known as a 'liqued salad' that is Spanish in origin. There are many modern variations but the traditional recipe typically includes stale bread, tomato, cucumber, bell pepper, onion and garlic, olive oil, wine vinegar, and salt.


The name for a number of cheeses adored by Maltese people. Gbejniet is generally made with cow's milk - there's a soft fresh cheese like a silky cross between mozzarella and ricotta; a sun dried version of the same which hardens after a month into a sweet nutty little round of cheese, and a third version is the hard cheese rolled in a pepper powder which is served with grapes or figs or as part of an antipasto.

Genoa Figs

See Figs.


A classic, fine-crumbed French sponge cake. It is made by beating warm whole eggs with sugar until the mixture more than triples in volume, then folding in flour and sometimes melted butter.


Clarified butter (butter from which the milk solids have been removed). Commonly used to fry garlic, ginger, onion and assorted spices for the base of an Indian curry, or to flavour Naan bread. It has a distinctive flavour, heats to temperatures well above butter without burning and keeps for extended periods of time unrefrigerated.


The rhizome of the plant Zingiber officinale, which is consumed as a food, medicine or spice. Ginger cultivation began in Southeast Asia and has since spread to East Africa and the Caribbean. It is sometimes known as root ginger.

Ginger Flowers

A ginger plant producing light pink to deep red flowers, with a tangy almost lemony taste. Popular in Nonya cuisine.


Produced by the breakdown of starch or sugar compounds that have been treated with acids or enzymes and then fermented. It can be produced from corn, potatoes, grapes, or honey, or any other starch or fruit. Used in many processed foods as a sweetener that resists crystallization and provides elasticity.


A protein in flour which, when mixed with water, gives the dough elasticity and strength.


A clear, sweet syrupy liquid that is extracted from animal fats and vegetable oils. It is a by-product of soap manufacturing. Glycerine is used in small amounts in certain cake, pastry, and icing mixtures to maintain moistness and extend shelf life.


A small dumpling made of flour, semolina, potato or choux pastry. They are usually poached and then cooked with grated cheese in the oven and served as a hot starter.


A souring and thickening agent unique to Sri Lanka, goraka is a fluted orange fruit whose segments are dried, turning black. It can be soaked in hot water and ground to a paste or added whole and removed after cooking. It is most commonly used in fish curries such as ambul thiyal.


Gorgonzola is a creamy blue cheese used in the classic Italian dish gnocchi gorgonzola.

Gram Flour

A flour made from ground chickpeas. It is pale yellow in colour and powdery and has an earthy flavour best suited to savoury dishes. Gram flour contains no gluten and is widely used in Indian cookery.

Grana Padano

Parmigiano Grana Padano is a type of hard Italian cheese. Considered the baby parmigiano as it has been matured for only 18 months, it is grated and sprinkled over pasta as the Reggiano is considered too special and expensive for this. It lifts the flavour of pasta dishes and is the tomato sauce to a meat pie.


An Italian sorbet made of lightly sweetened syrup flavoured with coffee or liqueur. It is served between courses or as a refreshment.

Gravadlax or Gravlax

A Scandinavian speciality. The freshest raw salmon is cured in a mixture of sugar, salt, pepper and fresh dill. True Gravadlax should be left to marinate at a temperature of between 3 and 4C for three to four days. It is often served with a dill and mustard dressing.

Green Mango

Any unripe mango, used mainly raw - in salads and side dishes. It has a more tart taste than ripe mangoes.


Italian garnish of raw, finely chopped garlic, parsley and lemon zest. It is usually sprinkled over slow-cooked braised meats, especially Osso Bucco.


Similar to polenta, grits is made from ground corn except that it’s a product of Hominy (which is corn soaked in lye water to remove the outside shell of the corn kernel). This is then dried and ground so that it’s slightly coarser than polenta.

Guajillo Chillies

Guajillo (dried and pronounced gwah-HEE-yoh) has a very tough leathery skin so may require long soaking.


Hungarian goulash soup or stew of meat and vegetables heavily seasoned with paprika.

Habanero Chillies

Habanero (fresh) is a super super hot variety of chilli.


A white ocean fish similar to cod, it has flaky flesh and is available fresh or frozen, whole or as steaks and fillets. Haddock can be poached, baked, fried, smoked or grilled and served with or without sauce.


A Scottish peasant dish that has become synonymous with Scottish cuisine, and which is always served at the annual celebration of Scots national bard on January 25. Haggis is made by mixing the contents of a sheep's stomach with oats and boiling the mixture inside a bag made of the sheep's stomach (or pluck).


Various members of the cod family are known as hake and are available fresh or frozen, whole or as steaks and fillets. Mild, subtle flavour suitable for frying, poaching and in soups.


Lawful meat that has been slaughtered according to Islamic ritual - this includes uttering the name of God, Allah, when killing an animal. Pork meat, alcohol, carnivorous animals and any blood products are also not halal, but haram or impure.


A Middle Eastern dish made of wheat, meat (usually beef or mutton but sometimes chicken), lentils and spices that is slow-cooked for 7-8 hours, resulting in a thick stew.


Flat sea fish available mostly in steaks, fillets and cutlets. It has firm white flesh and best prepared with a sauce.


Haloumi is a cheese from Cyprus. Usually fried before eating, but can be eaten raw and is popular as a salad with watermelon.


A generic term referring to many types of sweet, dense confection served in many cuisines -- from Middle Eastern to African. There are many variations but the primary ingredients are often nut butter and sugar or honey.


A North African hot paste, usually served with couscous, which is typically a fiery mixture of chillies, garlic, cumin, coriander, mint and oil.


A hard-shelled nut with an oval or round kernel, high in dietary fibre. Either used whole, grated or ground to flavour savoury and sweet dishes.


An oil-rich fish usually sold whole. Herring can be poached, fried or grilled as well as pickled, marinated, salted and smoked.


A slightly sweet Ethiopian and Eritrean celebration bread that is served on special occasions. It often has decorative designs, most commonly in the shape of a wheel.

Hobz Biz-Zejt

An open sandwich from Malta made with thick slices of crusty bread with a thin layer of kunserva (tomato paste), then topped with a range of toppings including tuna and capers.

Hoisin Sauce

A thick, sweet Chinese barbecue sauce made from salted black beans, onions and garlic. Hoisin sauce is mainly used as a table condiment and as flavouring for meat, poultry and shellfish dishes.


Hominy is dried white corn which is used to make a much loved dish called Pozole. Some small restaurants in Mexico serve only this dish.


Originating in Eastern Europe, horseradish is a perennial plant that is cultivated for its tough, twisted root. Once peeled, it is then grated and mixed with cream and other ingredients to provide a hot-flavoured sauce to accompany roast beef or fish such as trout.


A fungus (almost like a truffle) that grows on corn. It has a unique flavour and is used in soups and salsas.


A puree or dip of crushed cooked chickpeas flavoured with Tahini (pounded sesame seeds), oil, garlic and lemon juice.


An aromatic perennial herb from the Mediterranean region. Its main use is in the distillation of liqueurs, such as Chartreuse. However, the young leaves can be used in cooking to aid digestion of fatty or rich foods.


A traditional Middle Eastern coffee maker that is made of brass, copper or ceramics and has a long handle.

Ice Shaver

Can be bought at Asian stores to make the snow-like ice essential for the Indonesian dessert eis cendol.


A savoury cake made of fermented black lentils and rice that is widely eaten throughout southern India.

Ikan Bilis

Small dried anchovies that add a crunchy texture and salty taste to the Malaysian national dish Nasi Lemak and are also eaten as snacks.

Imam Bayildi

A Turkish dish of stuffed Eggplants. The stuffing is made with a mixture of Eggplant pulp, onions and tomato.


Ethiopian flat bread similar to a pancake in size and shape, made traditionally with teff flour (a grain similar to millet). The batter for injera is fermented over several days, giving the bread a sour flavour. It is usually cooked only on one side on a griddle and has a crumpet-like texture.


Jackfruit (Mit) is a large, green fruit with a tough, knobbly skin which reveals a yellow segmented flesh when opened. It has a taste that is naturally sweet. In Vietnam, the young jackfruit is used like a vegetable in cooking or in salad.


A small to medium sized green chilli pepper that is moderately hot. It is usually picked when still green, but occaisionally when ripe and red. It has been named after Jalapa, the capital of Vera Cruz, and is very popular in Mexian cooking.


A wild rosella flower that is used to make a cold tea.


Found all over Spain, jamon serrano (mountain) is a younger salt-cured ham. It is served thinly sliced and raw. It is a deep red colour and melts in your mouth (depending on the age it can be slightly dry). Jamon de pata negra is made from free range black Iberian pigs which have grazed on acorns. The jamon is aged for 18 months and because of the care taken, its very expensive (around $230 per kilo) and the taste is nutty, slightly sweet, the texture melting.


A slightly chewy sweet potato noodle frequently used in Korean cooking prepared with vegetables, beef or seafood, japchae is most traditionally featured in a dish to celebrate the lunar New Year.

Jerusalem Artichoke

The Jerusalem artichoke belongs to the sunflower family and it is the plant's underground tubers that are eaten. They are knobbly and irregular in shape, with a pale brown or purpley-red skin. Scrub and then boil or steam them until tender and then peel. Often baked and cooked in soups.

Jicama or Yam Bean

Jicama or Yam Bean is a crunchy root vegetable. It can be eaten raw or cooked. In Australia, its found in almost every Asian store selling fresh vegetables.

Jigsaw or Saw Leaf

Jigsaw or saw leaf (rau ngo gai or mui tau) is a long dark green leaf with serrated edges with a fragrance similar to coriander, but stronger. It enhances the flavour of fresh bamboo shoots and it can be added to soups and salads.

Juniper Berries

A tangy, aromatic dark red-purple berry used to flavour meat marinades and stews. It is also used to make gin.


The French word for juice, which can refer to both fruit and vegetable juices, as well as the natural juices exuded from meat. A dish (usually meat) that is served 'au jus' is presented with its own natural juices.


A round bottomed cooking pan similar to a wok. It is a versatile pan used for everything from deep frying, stir frying, steaming and, of course, curries.

Kaffir Lime

Kaffir Lime (makrut) is a similar size to a normal lime but the skin is bumpy. Both the grated skin and leaves are used and the fruit yields very little juice. When grating the skin, make sure that you only use the coloured surface. The flesh of the fruit is not used at all. The leaves, which are easily recognised by their unique double leaf, are often shredded very finely and used in salads.

Kalamata Olives

A large, black olive, named after the city of Kalamata, Greece, and used as a table olive. Kalamata olives include small, mammoth, colossal and super colossal.


An heirloom vegetable and one of the oldest forms of cabbage, originating in the Eastern Mediterranean and thought to have been used as a food crop as early as 2000 BC. Its dark blue-green curly leaves are highly nutritious.


A popular Asian vegetable also known as water spinach, water convolvulus or swamp cabbage due to the kind of terrain in which it grows. Long, slender stalks with slender, pointed leaves. Used in stir-fries and soups.


Kasseri is a mild medium-hard cheese made of unpasteurised sheep's milk that is popular in Greece and Turkey.

Katsuoboshi Kezuriki

A Japanese kitchen utensil consisting of a plane contained in a box used to prepare katsuobushi (dried smoked bonito) shavings.


Steam-processed bonito fillets, dried to woodlike hardness, which are shaved into flakes and used as one of the two essential ingredients of basic soup stock, dashi. The bonito, a member of the mackerel family, has been an important part of the Japanese diet from very early times, perhaps as early as the eighth century. From about the fifteenth century, the fillets of this fish were dried and used as they are today.

Kecap Asin

A salty dark soy sauce used in Indonesia, a little thicker than the Chinese soy sauce.

Kecap Manis

Sweet Indonesian or Malaysian dark soy sauce.


Kefalogravierais a hard, salty cheese.


Kefalotyri is a Greek version of the cheese pecorino.

Kemiri or Candlenuts

They look like macadamia nuts and have a high oil content and are loved for their creamy texture in sauces. Inedible in their raw state, the kemiri nut is a common addition to curry pastes and sauces.


It would be unthinkable to eat a Korean meal without a side dish of kimchi -- fermented, pickled vegetables. Often home-made and highly diverse in character, the most common recipe uses shredded Chinese cabbage as a base, to which other ingredients, such as shallots, ginger, garlic, fish sauce and chilli are added, depending on the season. Traditionally a means of preserving vegetables after harvest during the cold winter, kimchi was made and stored in large earthenware pots underground.


From the German word for cherry -- a clear cherry schnapps.


A distinctive Ethiopian dish made of raw ground beef that is marinated in a spicy powder.


A dessert of the Czech republic of dumplings made with summer stone fruit. The fruit is rolled into a dough (either a plain milk, egg and flour dough, or one made with yeast or even cream cheese) to form a golf-ball sized round. These are then dropped into boiling water to cook. When they rise to the surface they are scooped out, drained and served with one of the following toppings - fried breadcrumbs, grated quark (a German-style fresh curd cheese which in this case has been dried before grating) or cinnamon.


In French cooking, knives should be ultra sharp.It is recommended to have three main types: a cook's knife, a paring knife and a chopping knife. In Japan, the knives are very different to Western knives in that the blade is only along one side - important for cutting fish for sashimi and sushi as sharp cuts leave less surface area to oxidize.


A South African specialty not unlike a syrupy doughnut. Tresses of dough are plaited into a short fat braid, this is deep fried and then soaked in a spiced, sweet syrup.


Konbu is the second most widely produced seaweed in Japan behind wakame. Usually sold in dried form, it is easily reconstituted by soaking in water. Never wash or rinse konbu as its speckled surface holds the flavour. Wipe clean with a lightly dampened towel. Some Japanese cooks advocate lightly scoring konbu so that glutamic acid (a sort of natural flavor intensifier present in the kelp) is easily released during simmering.


Made from the root of the konjac plant, also known as devil's tongue, konnyaku is regarded as a health food, especially good for intestinal function. After processing it becomes dense, with a slightly chewy texture and is always parboiled before use. Most commonly used as a vegetable, it is a great absorber of surrounding flavours and is an essential ingredient in sukiyaki.

Korma (also khorma, kurma, kormaa)

A type of curry originating in South Asia and Centra Asia in which meat and vegetables are braised in spices (including coriander and cumin), yoghurt or cream and water, stock or coconut milk.


The principle dominating the dietary rules of religious Jews. The rules of kashrut are strict but relatively simple. Dairy and meat cannot be eaten together, but pareve foods such as vegetables, fruit and soy products can be eaten with either milk or meat products.


A Russian pie filled with fish, vegetables, rice and hard-boiled eggs. It has been adapted and varied the recipe in many ways, making it with brioche dough or puff pastry and filling it with rice, chicken and mushrooms or with salmon, onions, parsley and shallots.


Generally made from wheat, rice, potato or cassava flour, krupukare are thin, dried crackers similar to Chinese prawn crackers, which are deep fried before serving as a side dish. Available in many different flavours, the best quality are said to come from East Java. Indonesians love to dip the light fried crackers into sweet thick kecap manis as a snack.

Kumera (Sweet Potato)

The name comes from the Polynesian word describing orange sweet potato.


Small citrus fruit originating in central China but are now cultivated in the Far East, Australia and America. Kumquats can be eaten whole - including the skin - or used for pickling and preserves. They are particularly good in stuffing for poultry dishes.


In Maltese cooking this rather sweet tomato paste is used in pasta sauces and to boost any dish with tomatoes in it, as well as in the favourite national snack called hobz biz-zejt.


Labneh is a type of cheese made from draining the moisture from yoghurt.

Ladies' Fingers

An ingredient that is widely used in Indian, Caribbean and southern US cookery where it is an essential ingredient of gumbo. A long green pod, full of seeds, the ladies fingers (also known as Okra) exudes a sticky juice in cooking thickening stews and braised dishes.


French word for crawfish, sometimes called rock or spiny lobster, and another name for the Dublin Bay prawn, also known as Norway lobster and scampi, available fresh or frozen, in and out of their shells. Cook by boiling or grilling, if fresh. It has no large claws.


Lard is a fine white fat, which is less used these days because of its high animal-fat content. It is used particularly for slow cooking but also for deep-frying and for making pastry.


A traditional Indian drink that used to be made from buttermilk with salt added to combat dehydration in the hot climate. These days it is made from thin yoghurt, with salt or sugar.


Potato pancakes in the Eastern European (Ashkenazi) Jewish tradition.

Lebanese Cucumbers

Small, plump, dark green cucumbers.


An onion-like plant with a small bulb and thick stalk, used as an aromatic seasoning or vegetable.


The family of beans, peas, and lentils.

Lemon Myrtle

A native Australian herb with a pleasant lemony aroma, used to make tea or as a substitute for lemongrass.

Lemon Pepper

A blend of black pepper and dehydrated lemon. Commonly used in salads, and on broiled meats, poultry, and seafood.


A main ingredient in Thai and Southeast Asian cuisines, lemon grass is a root that can be used fresh, dried or powdered to impart its lemon flavour to sweet or savoury dishes.


A brown or yellow flat legume about the size of a pea used for soups, stews, and garnishes.


Licorice has long been used as a herb and a herbal medicine, even as far back as 5000 years ago in China. Commercial licorice comes from the sweet-tasting roots of a leguminous plant called Glycyrrhiza glabra. The roots are pulped and boiled and the extract evaporated. Once upon a time, licorice was sold as a pure, hardened extract. Now it is mixed with other ingredients to produce commercial sweets. Flour is a major ingredient in licorice, along with molasses, powdered licorice root, raw sugar, glucose and aniseed oil.

Light Soy Sauce

The result of the first stage of production. Soy beans are fermented for approx forty days. It is pleasantly salty and this is its main contribution to many dishes. Use in stir-fries, marinades and as a dipping sauce.

Lilly Pillies

Also known as riberries, round pink sweetish fruits that are harvested in summer.

Limburger Cheese

First made in Belgium, this semi-soft, surface-ripened cheese has a characteristic strong flavour and aroma. It's considered by some to be the ultimate smelly cheese.

Lime Leaves

The leaves of a wild lime tree, which appear as double leaves, joined tip to end and have a spicy, lemon flavour. The leaves give a citrus scent to soups and curries of Thai and Indonesian cooking.


A cross between the blackberry and raspberry. It can be quite tart, so needs plenty of sugar when used in desserts.


Longan (nhan) are small brown skinned fruits that grow in the Mekong Delta and in the North of Vietnam. Inside is a juicy cream coloured fruit with seed.

Lup Cheong

Lup cheong are dried, slightly sweet, spicey sausages that are red in colour and are usually made from pork meat and spices. Slice very thinly and stirfry or steam whole and slice.


A fruit that originated in China and which is now grown in the Far East and the West Indies. It is about the size of a small plum and has a thin, hard rough shell that is easily removed. The white, juicy flesh surrounds a large dark-brown stone.


A small biscuit or cake, crunchy outside and soft inside, made with ground almonds, sugar and egg whites.


To soak raw, dried or preserved fruit or vegetables in liquid - usually alcohol, liqueur, wine, brandy or sugar syrup. It is to soften or take away bitterness and so that they absorb the flavour of the liquid. Dried fruits for winter compotes are often treated this way.


A firm-fleshed oil-rich fish, usually sold whole. It can be grilled, fried, barbecued or poached and also suits being pickled, marinated, salted and smoked.

Maldive Fish

Maldive Fish - spiced, dried, smoked and finely shaved bonito, Maldive fish is the shrimp paste or fish sauce equivalent for Sri Lankan cuisine. It is a key ingredient in the essential pol (coconut) and seeni sambols and is also sparingly used as a thickening agent in curries. Store Maldive fish in a screw top glass jar - its quite pungent!


A semi circular tool used for hollowing out vegetables like zucchini.


Made from ewe's milk, it is a Spanish cheese that originated in La Mancha. The cheese is very fatty and firm to the touch.


Native to India, these popular fruits are now grown around the world, including northern Australia where they are in season from spring to late summer. Mango varieties differ in colour (from deep purple Irwins through to vivid red Van Dykes); texture (from the more fibrous varieties to the smooth, slender-stoned Keitts; and flavour, from sugar sweet like the American favourite Tommy Atkins to the more pungent, slightly creamy Nam Doc Mai.


The mangosteen is a tropical fruit from Southeast Asia. It is the size of a small peach with a leathery skin which, when peeled away, reveals five sweetly scented white segments

Manioc Flour

A byproduct of cassava, manioc flour is the main component of 'farofa', the much-loved South American topping that is sprinkled over dishes to give crunch. Similar in texture to dried breadcrumbs, the coarse flour is toasted in butter or oil and combined with fresh parsley and small amounts of smoked meat such as chorizo and bacon.


Manoush is a Lebanese pizza served as a breakfast dish. A thin pizza base is topped Za'atar mixed with olive oil and baked, then topped with tomato, mint, onion and seedless black olives.


A type of sweetened cherry or an Italian cherry cordial.

Marjoram Leaves

A savoury herb from the mint family, also known as oregano. Can be used in poultry stuffing, sausage, stews, sauces, soups, veal dishes, meat dishes, potato dishes, and most Italian sauces.


A semi-dry, pale golden Italian wine from Sicily.


Thick, creamy, soft Italian cheese used in savoury and sweet dishes. It has a soft and buttery consistency resembling stiffly whipped cream. Goes well as well with savoury dishes as with fruit and desserts. It is found in most supermarkets and Italian grocery stores.

Masa Harina

Ground corn meal, a staple in South and Central American cuisines and used to make tortillas, pastries and fillings for snacks like tamales and pupusas.

Masala (also massala)

A term used in South East Asian cuisines to describe a mixture of dry roasted spices or a paste made from spices and other ingredients (typically garlic, ginger and onions) that forms the flavour base of a dish.

Masala Dosai

A South Indian pancake made with a cultured rice and lentil flour batter.


A Mediterranean resin with a sweet, musky aroma. Used in religious ceremonies but also in cooking.


Unique to Greece, masticha is the sap produced by trees, which grow only on the island of Chios. It is used in the making of ice cream, sweets, chewing gum and liqueur and also has medicinal and pharmaceutical properties. It has an earthy musk vanilla flavour.


A mixture of young shoots and leaves used in a salad. Mesclun usually contains various types of wild and cultivated chicory, lamb's lettuce and dandelion but may also include rocket, chervil, purslane and oak leaf lettuce.

Mexican (Ibarra Brand) Chocolate

Used to make Mexican hot chocolate and other Mexican recipes including the famous mole poblano, this is a plain dark chocolate that may be sweetened with sugar and spiced with cinnamon, or unsweetened. It is sold in flat round blocks and broken off in triangular pieces.


Mezza is the Lebanese version of antipasto. Small snack sized portions may include labneh, sausages, fattoush, tabouleh, hommus and baba ganoush.


A thick Italian soup containing a mixture of vegetables and pasta or rice.


A soup or casserole base of chopped onion, celery and carrots. It can also contain ham or bacon.


A pale amber-coloured sweet rice wine that is used for cooking, rather than drinking, and adds a hint of sweetness to sauces. Also used as a glaze for grilled dishes.


A fermented paste made predominantly from soybeans and grains that comes in several different strengths. An extremely versatile ingredient, it can be used to make miso soup, to flavour pickles or grilled dishes, or be thinned and made into a dressing. As a general rule, the darker the colour, the stronger the flavour.


An Arabic gum with a hard, crystalline texture. Usually ground before adding to a recipe.


A thick, dark, heavy syrup that is a by-product of sugar refining. Molasses has a slightly tart flavour that works well in the making of rich fruit cakes, gingerbread and treacle toffee.

Mole (sauce)

A generic term for a number of Mexican sauces, some quite dissimilar to one another, including black, red, yellow, colorado, green, almendrado, and pipián.


A wooden implement used to froth hot chocolate. It is rolled between the palms and is acts in a similar way to a whisk.


A tall leafy vegetable, cultivated along the banks of the Nile for centuries. It is said to have the highest amount of protein and folic acid of any green leaf vegetable and is rich in beta-carotene, iron, calcium, and Vitamin C.

Monosodium Glutamate (Msg)

An additive made from sodium salt crystals and used to enhance the flavour of foods, especially in Asian cuisines. MSG is much used by commercial manufacturers of foods such as soups and sauces. It has a unique taste, different to sweet, sour, bitter and salty, called umami.


A sweet or savoury filled pastry made especially for the Chinese Moon Festival, held in autumn. Fillings can range from salty duck egg to sweet lotus paste or red bean. The pastries are stamped with Chinese characters or patterns.


A highly prized wild fungus that grows in dry, sandy areas and has a sponge-like cap so it is important to wash them well to get rid of any grit. They are often used dried and are excellent in all mushroom dishes and as additions to stews and casseroles.

Morello Cherries

A variety of griotte or dark sour cherry. They are grown extensively in Hungary and used in both sweet and savoury dishes, including sour cherry soup and strudel.


Used extensively in French cooking, souffle moulds are made from porcelain and are also used for creme brulee, creme caramel, chocolate mousse. There are numerous dessert moulds. Coeur a la creme uses a heart shaped porcelain mould with holes in the base to drain the moisture from the cream and cheese mixture. Other moulds include those for brioche, croquembouche and babas au rhum.


A dish from Greece, Turkey and the Balkans, made of layers of lamb, slices of aubergine, potatoes and onions and covered with white sauce and cheese.

Mozzarella and Bocconcini

Mozzarella and bocconcini are both soft, mild fresh cheeses. Bocconcini means 'small mouthful' and both of these are known as a tomato's best friend as they complement each other so well.

Mud Crab

Also known as mangrove crab or black crab, most Australian mud crabs come from around Gove, the Roper River and Bynoe Harbour. The species name is Scylla serrata. Scylla are found throughout the Indo-West Pacific region, ranging in Australia from NSW to southwest WA, but the NT has pristine waters, consistently larger crabs and can provide females. The female crabs are larger underneath and are generally at their best in the second half of the year while the males have bigger claws, a more elongated shell and are at their best in the first half of the year.


A lightly thickened curry-flavoured meat-and-vegetable soup highly seasoned with curry and spices originating from British India. Adopted by the British and especially popular in Australia.

Murray Cod

The king of the rivers, this freshwater fish can grow to a giant size and ripe old age. Its sweet white firm flesh is highly prized by chefs due to the line of belly fat running through it, making it succulent and moist. Murray cod is now being successfully farmed in southern and eastern Australia.

Murunga Leaves

Murunga Leaves are rarely seen in Australia but are well known in Sri Lanka as drumstick leaves, these are commonly grown in Mauritian backyards. Stir fried with onion and garlic or made into protein-rich soups, their slippery texture and tangy flavour is loved across the island.


An herbaceous plant whose seeds are used to prepare the condiment of the same name. There are three varieties: black mustard (spicy and piquant), brown mustard (less piquant), and white or yellow mustard (much less piquant but more pungent). Mustard seeds are sold whole, ground into powder or processed into prepared mustard. Whole seeds are used for pickling, flavouring cooked meats and vegetables. Powdered mustards and freshly ground seeds are used in sauces, as a seasoning in main dishes and as an ingredient in salad dressings. Different blends of made-up mustard include English, Dijon and French. It is often eaten with meats and can be used to add flavour and thickness to sauces.

Mustard Seed

Seed of the mustard plant. Used ground as a seasoning for pickling, sauces, and for prepared mustard condiments.

Mustardseed Oil

The oil of the mustard plant, this healthy oil has a pleasant nutty flavour and is traditionally used to make Indian curries, pickles and relishes but can be adapted to suit any dish using raw or cooked oil.


A leavened, over-baked flatbread that is popular throughout South and Central Asia.

Nam Jim

The Thai word for 'dipping sauce', there are many variations of nam jim but the key characteristics are always the blending of hot, sweet, sour and salty tastes.

Nam Pla

Fundamental to Thai food this fish sauce is made with the liquid that comes from fermented anchovies and is very pungent.

Nar Eksili

A pomegranate molasses that is used for salad dressings and marinades and has a savoury, semi sweet taste.

Nashi Pear

An exotic fruit that has the texture of a pear but the flavour of an apple.

Nasi Goreng

Literally meaning ‘fried rice’ in Indonesian and Malay, it refers to a meal of stir-fried rice spiced with kecap manis (sweet soy sauce), shallot, garlic, tamarind and chili and accompanied by other ingredients such as egg, chicken and prawns. Considered the national dish of Indonesia.

Nasi Lemak

A dish of rice steamed with coconut milk and served with dried anchovies (ikan bilis), peanuts, hardboiled eggs, dried shrimp, cucumber and sambal that is widely eaten in Malaysia and Singapore and is considered Malaysia’s national dish


An annual flowering plant whose leaves and yellow/orange flowers are sometimes used as an ingredient or garnish in salads. The leaves have a good peppery bite. The flower buds and seeds, picked when soft and pickled in vinegar, can be used as a substitute for capers.


A French phrase that means 'as prepared in Nice', this cooking style is identified with hot and cold dishes that typically include the ingredients of tomatoes, black olives, garlic and anchovies.

Nigella Seeds

Nigella seeds (corek otu) are small black seeds used in Turkish cooking, also known as black cumin. Sprinkled over bread before baking.

Nit’r Qibe

A spiced clarified butter, sometimes known as Niter Kibbeh, flavoured with brown cardamom pods, korseret (native to Ethiopia - it has a minty thyme flavour) and fennel. Some recipes for Nit’r Qibe also include garlic, ginger, finely chopped onion, turmeric, nutmeg, fenugreek, a whole clove and a cinnamon stick.

Nokedli Maker (Spatzle Press)

An appliance used in Hungarian cooking to make nokedli (dumplings). Similar in appearance to a grater, a sliding container sits above. Dough is placed in the container and the nokedli maker is suspended over boiling water. The container slides back and forth and the dough is shaved into small pieces. Nokedli is commonly served with gulyas.


The cuisine of Singapore and Malaysia that was born of the intermarriage between Chinese traders and native Malays. An elaborate cuisine based on pounded spices and herbs (the rempeh or spice paste base of many dishes), the most famous Nonya dish in Australia is probably the spicy coconut milk noodle broth known as laksa lemak.


Nopales is an essential ingredient in Mexican cooking. Sold in jars, it is a type of cactus. When cut into strips, it is known as Nopalitos.


A dried, paper-thin seaweed product that is primarily used to wrap sushi, to garnish and to flavour noodle soups. Generally, the darker the colour and greater the aroma, the higher the quality.

Nuevo Latino

A term for an American cuisine trend that fuses the flavours of the Caribbean, Cubn, Latin and Central American with Miami and New York flair.


The oval, brown, wrinkly seed of the nutmeg tree. Used grated to spice a wide range of both sweet and savoury dishes.

Ocean Trout

Ocean Trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) are similar to Brown and Rainbow Trout. They have a large jaw with numerous reddish or black spots along the body. In Tasmania, they can grow up to 90cm and 14kg but are generally harvested at about 30-45cm and 1kg. They have a distinctive rosy orange flesh.


Okra is the edible fruit pod of a plant related to the hibiscus. The mucilage, which is what makes okra so sticky when cooked, is the source of soluble dietary fibre. In Egypt, bamya is a vegetable widely used in a thick stew made with vegetables and meat.

Oleic Acid

A fatty acid found in almost every vegetable and animal fat. Rich sources are olive and peanut oils.

Olive Oil

The oil of the olive fruit, obtained by pressing the fruit at various stages of maturity. About 70 - 90% of the liquid obtained from olives is bitter water residue, which must be extracted to produce oil. Oil is classified as extra virgin or virgin according to its chemical makeup (the amount of acidity in the oil). Pure olive oil or light olive oil come from secondary pressings or are obtained from re-processing olive mash. The ideal shelf life of olive oil is about one year and it should be kept in a cool, dark place away from direct sunlight.


The fruit of the olive tree, native to the Mediterranean and synonymous with olive oil. Many varieties are now being grown commercially in Australia - for oil and as table olives. Olives are green when immature and darken to black when ripe. They can be picked and pressed at any stage of maturity and taste will vary accordingly.


A mild, sweet Nigerian spice that looks a little like a dried pod.

Orange Blossom Water

A clear, perfumed distillation of fresh bitter-orange blossoms used in Lebanese cooking, particularly for sweets and desserts.


Due to the absence of a uniform system for classifying organic products, the term is generally used to define any product that has not been contaminated by chemicals or chemical residues, usually raised or cultivated on land that has been chemical-free for over ten to fifteen years and in some cases thirty. All organic produce however must be certified by one of the certification bodies currently operating in Australia or the country of origin. Standards cover fresh fruit and vegetables, fruit juices, jams, other processed foods, all animal products, grains and nuts, and other goods. The national producer certification schemes currently operating in Australia are: The Biodynamic Research Institute (BDRI) which carries the Demeter label, the Biological Farmers of Australia (BFA), the National Association for Sustainable Agriculture Australia (NASAA), the Organic Herb Growers of Australia (OHGA), and the Organic Vignerons Association Of Australia Inc (OVAA). These five associations are members of the Organic Produce Advisory Committee (OPAC). The national standards for organic produce that have been ratified by the Department of Primary Industries dictate that produce be assigned levels in accordance with the producer certification organisations. Biodynamic Research Institute (BDRI), which administers the Demeter standard. This organisation only certifies Biodynamic produce and is the oldest organic/bio-dynamic body in Australia.

Oroshigane (Graters)

There are two kinds of Japanese graters, and both grate much more finely than is usual in most Western cooking. The grater for giant white raddish or daikon gives a somewhat coarser result than the grater used for ginger or wasabi horseradish.


Describing wine or other food that has been in contact with air too long, causing it to darken and smell stale.


A saltwater shellfish that is typically sold fresh (though can be bought smoked) that is steamed, grilled, poached or eaten raw.

Oyster Mushrooms

An ear-like grey or greyish-brown bracket fungus that grows in clumps or clusters. Oyster mushrooms have a subtle flavour and are often used in Asian cookery.

Oyster Opening

Insert your knife around the hinge that keeps the two shells together, break the membrane that attaches the oyster to the shell, rinse off any excess shell and place the oyster upside down on the shell for presentation.

Oyster Sauce

A bottled all-purpose Chinese seasoning made from oysters, water, salt, cornstarch, and caramel colouring. A popular Asian seasoning used to prepare many dishes (particularly stir fries) and as a table condiment. Oyster sauce imparts a richness to dishes without overpowering their natural flavour.


The name for both the cooking pan and the well known dish which is cooked in it. A traditional Spanish dish of rice and saffron that usually includes tomatoes, chicken and seafood, paella needs to be cooked on a large flat base as the food needs to be in a single layer to cook evenly.

Pak Choy

Pak choy and baby pak choy are tender vegetables with pale green stems and darker green rounded leaves.


A thin crepe-like sweet pancake that is popular in Central and Eastern Europe. Comparable to a French crepe they are typically served with sweet fillings or toppings including lemon and sugar, jam and cream, dried fruit and nuts and chocolate.

Palm Oil

The dark red oil of the oil palm. Commonly used in African and Brazilian cooking.

Palm Sugar

A caramel-like sugar derived from the palm tree, ranging in colour from light to dark brown and sold in blocks. It is used to sweeten Asian dishes. It can be substituted with brown sugar or jaggery (a dark brown Indian block sugar obtained from palms or sugar cane).


A cured pork product made from pork belly. It can be found semi-cured and sold finely sliced like ham or as a fully cured slab, looking a little like bacon.

Pandan Leaf

A tropical herbaceous plant with long, green leaves. Its leaves are widely used throughout South East Asia to add a unique taste and aroma to desserts, drinks and to wrap savoury foods. It is also available as a powder, to flavour and colour cakes and used when cooking curries, rice and desserts.


A large round, yeasted fruitcake from Italy, traditionally eaten at Christmas and Easter. It can be served as a dessert, accompanied by a sweet wine.

Panna Cotta

The name for this cold dessert from Italy means cooked cream, although not all recipes call for the cream to be actually cooked. To make panna cotta, cream is added to gelatine and then flavoured with a wide variety of ingredients such as vanilla or cinnamon. The mixture is then cooled until it sets and is served with a sweet sauce.


Also known as Pawpaw. The word is often used to refer to the red-coloured, sweeter pawpaw from Thailand.

Paperbark Sheets

Sheets of bark from the native Australian paperbark tree and used to wrap meat or fish for baking or steaming.


Crisp Indian wafers made of legume (and sometimes rice) flour. Usually served with drinks or as a snack with accompaniments such as chopped onions, tomatoes, coriander, and chilli.


Milder than cayenne, paprika is the ground red powder of mild and hot peppers and is an important ingredient in Hungarian goulash and in Spanish sausages and salamis.


A classic one-pot Hungarian chicken stew made with sour cream and paprika.


To boil vegetables until half cooked. Used to part-cook potatoes and other hard root vegetables prior to roasting them at a high temperature to ensure that the inside is cooked while the outside crisps up well.


A smooth textured dessert consisting of ice cream layered with a dessert sauce, fruit, or liqueur, traditionally served in tall, narrow, footed glass. In France, a parfait usually consists of frozen whipped cream and Italian meringue or just whipped cream.


A cured hard cow's-milk cheese that is essentially Italian. Its name originates from the town of Parma, in the northern Italian region of Emilia-Romagna. Parmigiano reggiano is a protected name for true Parmesan which manufactured from 15th April to 11th November in the province of Parma. A good substitute for Reggiano often sold abroad as Parmesan is a similar cheese, known as grana padano, which has been matured for a shorter time. Parmesan is always best grated or shaved fresh before use.

Parmiggiano Reggiano

Parmiggiano reggiano is the Grandfather of the parmesan family, having been matured for approx four years. It has crystals throughout the cheese that melt in your mouth releasing its flavour. It is best served after a meal with fruit and wine.


A herb that is popular and widely used the world over, parsley is flat leaf or continental parsley and is a member of the celery family.


A white-cream-coloured root vegetable with an agreeable peppery taste. A winter vegetable.

Parve or Pareve

Indicates that a food is kosher in that it is made without milk, meat, or any of their derivatives.


A traditional Russian dessert for celebrating Easter. Made from curd cheese, cream, almonds, chocolate and dried fruit

Pasilla Chillies

Pasilla (dried and pronounced pah_SEE-ya) is a mild to medium hot chilli.

Pasta (Dried and Fresh)

Supermarket shelves groan under the weight of the enormous variety of pasta available. Pasta is usually eaten in most Italian households every day. Fresh pasta has a silkier texture.

Pasta Machine

This utensil makes the rolling and cutting of pasta dough much simpler. The dough is fed through rollers with a number of settings to give an even thickness. Attachments are used to cut into the desired width.


A popular Maltese street food and snack consisting of layers of flaky pastry filled with a variety of fillings, the most traditional being ricotta and mushy peas.

Pea Eggplants

Small Asian eggplants about the size of a pea and light green in colour. They are used in Thai cooking and have a sharp, slightly bitter flavour.

Pearl Onions

Small onions used for cooking whole or pickling, usually sweeter in flavour than the larger brown or white onions.


Native to the USA, the pecan tree is a type of hickory that produces the pecan nut. Pecan nuts hold a special place in the American heart and in their culinary tradition, the most famous recipe being the much celebrated pecan pie.


Italian sheep's milk cheeses, of which Romano is the best known. Mostly used for grating.


Traditionally earthenware, but commonly made from metal or cast iron, the peka is a bell-shaped lid used to form an outdoor oven. When a fire has reached hot coals stage, these are shovelled on top of the oven. Covered in charcoal, the peka forms a convection oven and is perfect for slow cooked cuts of meat such as pork belly, lamb and turkey with potatoes.


A native Australian berry with a peppery flavour


Mostly grown in Asia, the pepper vine or tree initially produces fresh, green peppercorns. Left to mature they will turn black. When picked and sun-dried they become the black peppercorns we use in pepper grinders. If on the other hand, the peppercorn is picked slightly before maturity, the outer layer is removed and the kernel (white in colour) can be ground to produce white pepper. The fragrant green peppercorns have a sweetly aromatic flavour all their own.

Perilla Leaves

Perilla leaves (rau tia to) are large leaves, purple on one side and dark green on the other. The leaves are shredded and used in eggplant dishes and in rice paper rolls. Also called shiso leaf in Japanese cookery.


A green Italian sauce for pasta traditionally made with fresh basil, olive oil, garlic, pine nuts and Romano and Parmesan cheeses. The sauce can be stirred into freshly cooked pasta, spooned on to thick soups, toasted on bread or added to mayonnaise and salad dressings. Red pesto contains grilled red pepper or pimiento. Also used to describe many variations including different nut based pestos, different herb based pestos, sun-dried tomato pesto, and black olive pesto.


Petai, or 'smelly beans' as they are affectionately known, are seeds from a tree native to Malaysia and Indonesia. Bright green in colour, they are slightly bitter in flavour and used in stir-fries, curries and sambals.

Petits Fours

A tiny French pastry or sweet, usually served with coffee or tea.


Made from both fruits and vegetables, pickles or achards are always present on the table in Mauritius and generally contain mustard seeds, turmeric, chilli and garlic as flavourings.


A flat bread often topped with sesame and nigella seeds. In Turkey, pide is traditionally only available during Ramadan when it's eaten with most meals.


A term for a Greek rice dish includin pilau, polo and pilaf.


Piperati a barrel-aged piquant cheese with a creamy flavour. Used for Greek salad and is of a higher quality than other fetas.


Piri-Piri is an African word for chilli and also a hot chilli sauce used in Portuguese, African and Brazilian cookery. The Portuguese introduced chillies to their African colonies after discovering them in Brazil so Piri-Piri plays a major part in the fiery food of Mozambique - chicken, fish, seafood and vegetables are all cooked with Piri-Piri.


Belonging to the banana family, plantains are firmer and lower in sugar content than regular bananas. Plantains usually require cooking or processing and are used either when green or under-ripe (starchy) or overripe (sweet). In many dishes, they are deep fried and eaten as a side.

Plum Jam

A Croatian spread made from small native plums, it is favoured for baking as it tends to keep its shape rather than spreading while cooking.


A cornmeal porridge that is the traditional basic dish of northern Italy. Polenta can be eaten fresh or, when set, cooked in a variety of ways.

Pomegranate Molasses

A dark sticky liquid made from pomegranates and used to add a tart flavour, usually to Middle Eastern cuisine.

Pomegranate Seeds

Used both whole and ground, dried pomegranate possesses similar properties to dried plum, providing a sweet and sour flavour.

Poppy Seeds

Blue gray in colour and slightly nutty in flavour, poppy seeds are sprinkled over pasta and used extensively in Hungarian baking - in strudels, tortes and the festive beigli.

Porcini Mushrooms

Dried mushrooms. Usually re-hydrated before use by soaking in boiling water.

Portabello Mushroom

Flat dark open mushroom, good for roasting, baking and stuffing.

Potato Starch

Potato Starch is used for thickening and coating meat or fish before frying. European cooking would use cornflour, cream or egg yolk. Arrowroot, tapioca starch or cornflour can be substituted.


Potatos are a great source of complex carbohydrates, dietary fibre and vitamin C. There are many different varieties - some better for mashing, others better for deep-frying, roasting or baking. Originally from South America, the potato came to the Western world after European colonisation of the Americas. Low-sugar potatoes are better for deep-frying as they brown better; the waxy types are best for eating boiled or in salads but are not good for mashing.


A small immature chicken, sometimes called a spring chicken. As the bird is only four to six weeks' old, the flavour has not developed and there is not much flesh on the bones, but one bird is perfect for a single serving. Poussins benefit from a rich stuffing to add flavour.


A traditional pre-Columbian Mexican soup or stew that includes meat, usually pork, turkey or chicken, pork rinds, chillis and other seasonings.


A sweet made of almonds and sugar invented for the French Comte du Plessis-Praslin by his cook in the 1600s.

Preserved Lemons

Preserved lemons are lemons that have been preserved in salt and either brine or oil. Kept away from light for at least 40 days, their flavour changes from acidic to mellow and sweet. Used as an ingredient, in marinades and as a garnish.

Prickly Pears

Unlike the common pest varieties of prickly pear cactus, opuntia ficus-indica is a South American cactus with highly edible fruit. It grows prolifically in Mediterranean countries like southern Italy (particularly Sicily) where it is popular as a seasonal fruit.


The Italian word for ham, used in the names of raw hams such as prosciutto di Parma. Parma ham is served in very thin slices.


Also referred to sometimes as the native peach, quandongs are a sweet-tart red desert fruit that have long been used in country-style pies and jellies. It is most often dried and then reconstituted to be used in sweet and savoury condiments such as chutneys, preserves or cordials.


A mild tasting fresh curd cheese made from skim milk. It can be used in sweet and savoury dishes.


A corn tortilla filled with cheese and a variety of other fillings can be added. It is folded in half and cook on a hot plate until crisp and golden on both sides.


When fully ripe, the quince has a wonderful perfume. It belongs to the apple family with much the same shape as an apple but with a furry skin. Quince should not be eaten raw because it is very hard and bitter but it makes excellent preserves, especially marmalade.

Quince Paste

A rich crimson jam-like paste which in Spain is traditionally served sliced on bread with manchego cheese


A South American grain that is becoming increasingly popular for its delicious nutty taste and health benefits. It can be cooked and eaten like rice or barley or other grains.


A crisp variety of chicory with a bitter, peppery taste. Radicchio has small hearts, red with white veins, and is generally used in salads mixed with other salad leaves.


A French stew of meat, poultry or fish. The term is also used to describe a sauce.


A relation of the lychee, this exotic fruit has a brown leathery skin with soft spines and a white, translucent flesh that resembles the lychee in taste and texture.


A Japanese noodle dish made with Chinese-style wheat noodles known by the same name served in a hot meat or fish-based broth, often flavoured with soy sauce or miso and with toppings, such as sliced pork, egg or dried seaweed added. Almost every region of Japan has its own variation of ramen and it is one of the most widely and frequently eaten dishes in Japan.

Ras El Hanout

A Moroccan spice mixture that can contain up to 100 different spices and is used in couscous, rice, meat and vegetable dishes. The mixture of spices in ras el hanout depends on the maker and the spices available, but may include cardamom, cayenne, aniseed, nutmeg, mace, ginger, galangal or even dried ground rosebuds.


Used in Maltese cooking, ravjul is larger than Italian ravioli and the traditional filling is ricotta cheese seasoned with parsley and salt. The other point of difference is cooking time - generally the Maltese like a softer texture and cook pasta longer than the Italian al dente.

Red Palm Fruit Oil

Oil extracted from the fruit of the African oil palm that makes an excellent base for cooking. It gives a distinctive red colour and taste to soups and stews and is high in carotenoids, making it a good supply of Vitamin A and antioxidants.


An extract from the stomach of cows or sheep, used to curdle milk for cheese making. A vegetarian alternative to rennet is now used in making vegetarian cheese.


There are many different types of rice around the world. Jasmine Rice is the most widely used in Vietnamese cooking. In Spanish cooking calasparra is a low starch, short grain rice which is fluffy and separates when cooked that is the best rice to use for paella. In Japanese cooking, the koshihikari variety is short grained and slightly sticky. Once sushi rice vinegar dressing is added, its grains achieve a beautiful shiny look. Pakistani basmati rice is aromatic and long grained, and regarded as one of the finest in the world. Polished long grain rice is the most commonly used rice in Indonesian cuisine in dishes such as nasi goreng. This staple also extends to desserts featuring the black and white sticky varieties.

Rice Flour

Rice flour can be used to thicken soups and stews, as well as providing an alternative to wheat flour in cakes and biscuits.

Rice Vinegar

Wine vinegar made from rice wine used in Asian cookery.

Rice Wine

An essential ingredient in Chinese and Japanese cooking and other Asian cuisines. This sweet wine is low in alcohol and is made by fermenting freshly steamed glutinous rice. Also known as Mirin or sake, rice wine is used in sauces, marinades and glazes.


An Italian ewe's milk curd cheese that when unripened is creamy, soft and smooth. It can be eaten fresh with fruit or flavoured with sugar and cinnamon as it has rather a bland flavour. It is used in many Italian dishes especially as a stuffing for ravioli or in pastries.


Rigani is a Greek style of oregano with a much more powerful flavour than oregano. The flower buds are the part used more so than the leaves.

River Mint

A native Australian mint.

River Prawns

Also known as school or harbour prawns, these are small, sweet, flavoursome prawns, often cooked and eaten whole. School or river prawns are found in estuarine and coastal waters along the east coast of Australia, from Tin Can Bay in Queensland to Corner Inlet in Victoria.

Rock Salt

Rock salt is a larger crystal type of salt. Sea or table salt could also be used.

Rojak Bowl

A big deep bowl, often ceramic, in which ingredients for the crunchy salad rojak are mixed and the dark viscous soy dressing is added and tossed through.


A soft-ripened cheese originally from Germany. Although similar to the very aromatic Limburger, Romadur has a milder aroma and contains less salt.


A French veined cheese made from ewe's milk. It is matured in ancient caves in the Aveyron region and takes three months to ripen. The result is a semi-soft crumbly cheese with blue-green veins.


The fruit of the northern Australian plant, Hibiscus heterophyllus, often used for jam.


Also found in Africa and the Caribbean, the rosella (or roselle) is also referred to as red sorrel , karcade and the Queensland jam plan . In the late 1900s there were two factories producing rosella jam in Queensland and exporting it to Europe. Rosellas were once popular in the United States and are widely found in Egypt where dried rosella is used to make a drink. The flowers are discarded and the red-green striped calyces used for their colour and flavour. The pods contain most of the pectin but are discarded after boiling. In Africa the leaves and stems are used in curries.


An aromatic shrub native to Mediterranean countries whose evergreen leaves are used either fresh or dried. Rosemary has a very pungent taste, so not much is needed to flavour a marinade, a stew or a grill. It goes particularly well with lamb, veal, sausagement and some tomato sauces. A sprig of rosemary gives a delicate flavour to milk used for a dessert.


A Middle Eastern essence used to flavour drinks and sweets. Found in any Middle Eastern grocery store.

Rosti or Roesti

A large Swiss potato cake made from layers of sliced or grated potatoes and fried until golden.


A round, flat unleavened bread popular throughout South Asian that is made from stoneground, wholemeal flour traditionally known as atta flour.


A Mauritian red sauce that is used to braise meat, poultry and fish.


A roux is a cooked mixture of equal quantities of butter and flour that is the base for sauces such as white sauce and bechamel.


Derived from the stamens of the saffron crocus, saffron is the world's most expensive spice. It can be used either whole or in powdered form, giving a distinctive flavour and yellow colour to Spanish paella and Italian risotto. It is also a classic ingredient in the French fish soup bouillabaisse.


A perennial broad-leaved herb that is widely cultivated for its leaves, which have an aromatic, slightly bitter flavour and are used for flavouring fatty meats (such as pork), stuffings, marinades, certain cheeses and various drinks.


A starch made from the pith of the sago palm, used to make puddings.


An extract from the tubers of orchids. Used as a thickening agent, cornstarch may be used as a substitute.

Sahlep, also Salep or Sahlab

Sahlep is the dried powdered root of a wild orchid that grows in southern Turkey. It's used as a thickener for a hot milk drink that is very popular in Turkey - but is also used to make a unique icecream from the southern Turkish city of Maras. This special icecream is boiled, stirred, aerated and churned - both by hand and machine - to get an amazing texture.


As Pino Tomini-Foresti from Pino's Butchery explains: ‘All salami is made with pork meat and bound in natural skin casings. The differences you will find from one salame to another are in the different ingredients used and the different way meat is cut (fine or coarse) and mixed. The French style is very different, using lots of good lard. Other salami can be hot, have fennel in them, paprika or capsicum, all sorts of different spices. The French style has more fat, the Spanish one has lots of paprika...


A deep purple non-alcoholic drink made in Turkey from turnip juice. Traditionally served cold.

Salmon Caviar

The roe of the Atlantic salmon, salmon caviar is like large bright-orange bubbles in appearance. Freshly-harvested roe is usually marinated briefly in brine before bottling and is used mainly for canapes and as a garnish. It is highly prized and considered a luxury food item.


Salsify is a thin, parsniplike root vegetable with beige skin and white flesh. It's related to scorzonera. Native to the east Mediterranean, it is used a lot in European cooking and is a common vegetable in France where it is also available tinned and fresh. Fresh salsify only needs scraping or peeling (like carrots) and should then be placed in acidulated water to stop it discolouring. The root can also be microwaved, boiled, steamed, creamed, or mashed and is highly nutritious, containing plenty of dietary fibre but no fats.


All salt, whether from the sea, artesian basins or mines, is sodium chloride. Differences in taste depend on how much it is purified and processed and on the natural vegetable and mineral content remaining in the salt. It can be sold as blocks, crystals, flakes or fine ground.

Salt Cod

Dried, salted cod, which needs to be de-salted and rehydrated before use. Popular in French, Spanish and Portuguese cuisines.

Salted White Raddish

An essential ingredient for pad Thai for its unique taste and soft but chewy texture.


A dish consisting of rolled pieces of veal or poultry, cooked with herbs, bacon and other flavourings. The word comes from the Italian for 'leap into the mouth'.

Samba Rice

A rice native to Sri Lanka, the samba rice grain is approximately 1/3 the size of basmati and has a distinctive flavour and aroma deemed by locals to be an acquired taste. Nutritionally, it's hard texture results in a denser and more filling meal than most other varieties. The addition of a pandan leaf when cooking is said to dissipate the strong smell.

Sambal (Sambol)

A chili-based condiment, typically made with a variety of chili peppers, which is popular throughout Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, the southern Philippines and Sri Lanka.

Sambal kecap manis

An Indoneasian chili-based condiment made with sweet soy sauce, chili, shallots and lime that has a primarily sweet taste (the Indonesian word 'manis' means 'sweet').

Sambal Oelek

An Indonesian relish made of chilli and dried shrimp

Sambhar Powder

A South Indian spice mix used to flavour sambhar, a kind of dhal or lentil soup served traditionally as a side dish with dosai or other South Indian snacks.


Samphire grows prolifically in English tidal zones and is found growing wild along the southern coastline of Australia. Sometimes known as sea asparagus it is a fleshy smooth, much-branched herb with a woody base and bright green juicy leaves. It has a powerful scent and is traditionally used as a pickle. In some parts of the world this plant can retail for almost as much as a precious metal, yet it grows wild and in abundance in many parts of Australia.

Sang Choy Bao

A fine seasoned Asian mince dish - made with pork, quail or other meats and served in a lettuce leaf.


A Japanese dish of raw fish and shellfish sliced thinly and arranged decoratively and served with a dipping sauce, typically wasabi paste and soy sauce, perhaps with additional condiments such as pickled ginger, grated daikon radish or ponzu sauce.

Sashimi Tuna

High-grade tuna, expertly sliced and served raw.


Sauerkraut is fermented cabbage. Sauerkraut is an excellent source of vitamin C and is commonly eaten with Hungarian kolbas, salami or csabai sausages.

Saute Pan

A saute pan has straight sides and is used for browning meat.


The Italian name for sponge finger biscuits. Used in Italian cooking for desserts.


A bulb-less, white onion with hollow green sprouts. Used to infuse dishes with a mild onion taste. Also known as green onion.


A shellfish with a delicate taste available in a range of sizes. Scallops can be steamed, fried or grilled but should be cooked gently. The flesh is firm and white, the coral (or roe) is orange or pale red in colour.

Sea Cucumber

The trade in trepang or dried sea cucumber is Australia's oldest export industry, with the demand for sea cucumber being tremendous. The dried product can fetch up to $160 per kilo. Considered a delicacy by the Chinese for hundreds of years, these creatures are believed to have many health benefits. They're also seen as very versatile in cooking, given the number of varieties and textures available - from gelatinous to crunchy. Traditionally, sea cucumber is sold dried. But the dried product needs to be boiled at high temperatures for up to 20 minutes at a time over the course of a week to reconstitute it for use in cooking. The texture is jelly-like, the taste is sweet and fragrant.

Sea Salt

Salt that is obtained by the evaporation of seawater and is used in cooking and cosmetics. It is historically called bay salt or solar salt. Generally more expensive than table salt, it is commonly used in gourmet cooking.

Seasoned Pepper

A mixture of black pepper, other spices, and sweet pepper flakes. An alternative to plain black pepper.

Seasoned Salt

A mixture of salt, herbs, and spices. An alternative to plain salt, usually lower in sodium.


Seaweed (kim) is eaten as a crispy snack in Korea in toasted sheets which can also be finely shredded and used as a garnish.


Ground durum wheat, available fine, medium or coarse. Used for desserts and to make couscous.

Sesame Oil

Sesame has long been harvested for its seeds, which appear after the pods ripen and split. Sesame oil can be cold-pressed from raw seeds or, more commonly, hot-pressed from toasted, hulled seeds, creating a dark colour and nutty flavour. It is often used as a marinade or to drizzle on dishes after cooking, much like extra virgin olive oil.

Sesame Seed

Tiny, shiny, creamy white seeds with a nut-like flavour. Used in baking on breads and rolls, and in seed and an as oil in Asian cooking.

Seville Oranges

A small, bitter orange also known as 'bitter orange', 'sour orange' or 'marmalade orange'. The many varieties are also used as an essential oil, which can be used in perfume or as a flavouring.


Shallot (eschallots) have a cluster of small bulbs with a more delicate and less pungent flavour than other onions.

Shao Hsing Wine

Also known as Shaoxing or Shaozhing wine, the most famous and prized Chinese rice wine. It is a little like a dry sherry in flavour and is used in many Chinese marinades and braised dishes.


A strongly flavoured mushroom used in both fresh and dried forms. Also known as Chinese, black or oriental mushroom in its dried form.

Shortcrust Pastry

Probably the most useful and versatile pastry, shortcrust is a crumbly pastry that is ideal for pies and pasties.


Cooking fat made by hydrogenation of vegetable oil, or by combination of meat fat and vegetable oil.


Japanese soy sauces have a relatively fresh taste and aroma and are generally sweeter and less salty than Chinese-style sauces. Most commonly available are the light (usukuchi) and dark (koikuchi) varieties. Light shoyu contains a higher salt content and is paler in colour; often used with vegetables or clear soups, while dark shoyu is used as a marinade or in simmered dishes. Try tamari, a slightly thicker and wheat-free shoyu with sashimi.

Shrimp Paste

Known as Belachan in Malayasia, a paste of shrimp which is pressed into a block. It has an unpleasant pungent smell unroasted but once roasted the flavour isn't as strong. For best results, wrap a small amount in foil and put into a hot oven or hold over flame using tongs. Then cool and crumble.

Shrimp Sauce

Shrimp sauce (Mam ruoc) is widely used as a dipping sauce in Northern Cuisine it is a mash of marinated shrimps. It can be conserved for a long time in bottles. The smell is very strong. This mash is an excellent marinade for fish and meat. Many people like to use it as a separate sauce.

Sichuan Pepper

Sichuan or anise pepper is actually not pepper but the very hot and peppery dried red berries of a type of ash tree. The berries are roasted and ground to make a very pungent and aromatic seasoning used in Chinese cuisine. Sichuan pepper is also one of the spices of Chinese five-spice powder.


Cut of beef from the rear of the animal, used for boiling, stews, casseroles and mince.

Singapore Chilli Crab

Singapore's most legendary dish was created in 1950 and is a hawker stall special. Mud crabs are most commonly used, stir-fried in a sweet and savoury tomato and chilli-sauce. Despite it's name it is more flavourful than hot.

Slow Food

Started in Italy, almost 20 years ago, the Slow Food movement now has over 80,000 members world wide. As the name suggests it is the antithesis of fast food -- about caring where your food comes from, how and where it is grown, and how it is processed, prepared and shared.

Snake Beans

Also known as Chinese long beans, these dark green beans can be up to 1 metre in length and are usually sold in bunches. They do not need stringing prior to use and are mostly chopped and added to stir-fries.


Japanese buckwheat noodles made with fresh buckwheat in season. Prized for their health properties, they are used in soups or served blanched and accompanied with meat or vegetables and soy and Mirin.


A semi-frozen water ice, usually made with fruit or a liqueur, and eaten as a palate cleanser between courses, or as a dessert.

Sorghum Flour

Native to Africa and gluten free, the sorghum grain ranges in color from white to red depending on the variety. The white grain is generally used as food and the red grain is used for brewing beer. Sorghum grain has a sweet, nutty flavor.


Sorrel comes in several varieties, including wild sorrel and French sorrel. Its name derives from the French for sour, in reference to the plant's characteristic acidity. Although often used in salads, sorrel should not be eaten in large quantities as it contains a high amount of oxalic acid.

Sour Cream

Sour Cream is a versatile and ubiquitous ingredient in the Hungarian kitchen. Traditionally, it was made by leaving cream to sour naturally. Modern intervention produces sour cream by pasteurising and homogenising single cream and adding a pure form of bacteria which grows until the desired tartness and consistency is reached.


Also known as guanabana, a large dark-green tropical fruit with fleshy spikes and tangy, pleasantly flavoured white flesh. Can be used to make drinks and smoothies or pulped into desserts but the skin is not edible.

Southern Bluefin Tuna

This species of tuna is one of the most expensive and beautiful fish in the world. At up to 2.5 m (8.2 ft) and weighing up to 400 kg (882 lbs) it is among the larger bony fishes.

Soy Sauce

A condiment made from fermented soya beans and salt that forms a basic ingredient in both Japanese and Chinese cooking.

Soybean Paste

Soybean Paste (Doen Jang) or fermented Korean soybean paste is a salty condiment used to make rich, thick stocks and stews with vegetables and tofu. It's also used on its own as a condiment with bulgogi. It is made from boiled, ground soybeans, which are dried and fermented in blocks and brined.


Made from the hind pork leg in a similar way to prosciutto, speck is boned before the curing and smoking processes begin. Its smoky flavour is a great addition to slow cooked dishes like boeuf bourguignon.


A distant cousin of modern wheat, high in fibre and protein. Often able to be tolerated by people with gluten intolerances.

Spice Grinder

Many cooks love to toast their own spices in seed form and grind them fresh. A coffee grinder is a good substitute.

Spice Tray or Box

As there are many spices used in Indian cooking, most Indian cooks keep a tray of spices in small bowls near the stove ready for use. A spice box with compartments for a variety of spices was once a part of a young girls' dowry.

Spit Roast (Razanj)

Spit roasting is common all over Croatia - suckling pig, lamb and beef are slowly rotated and basted over gentle heat.

Star Anise

Dark red-brown pods with an aniseed flavour that are commonly used in Chinese and other Asian cuisines.


A group of rays, which are cartilaginous fishes related to sharks that are common in coastal tropical and subtropical marine waters throughout the world.


A traditional German cake usually eaten at Christmas. It is a loaf-shaped cake containing dried fruit, and covered with sugar, powdered sugar or icing sugar.


An Italian herbal liqueur produced since 1860. Its yellow colour comes from the use of Saffron and it is slightly sweet, semi-viscous, and has a bold, complex flavor with strong minty or coniferous notes.


A spicy sausage sometimes used to fill pide bread.


Raw beef fat sold by butchers and used traditionally where now butter or margarine would be used. Also used in a similar way is pork lard.

Sugar Syrup

When equal amounts of sugar and water are mixed in a solution and brought to a boil, it forms syrup. When the syrup boils, the sugar becomes more concentrated and the syrup more dense.Beyond simple syrup, which is used to moisten cakes, more advanced stages of cooked sugar solution are used for fondant, buttercream, boiled icing, and Italian meringue. Sugar cooked to between 320 and 350 degrees Fahrenheit becomes caramel, which is used for glazing and making spun sugar, caramel cages, and praline paste.


A Middle Eastern spice obtained from a dried, ground reddish-purple berry. It has a strong tangy flavour and can be used as a souring agent.

Sunyak Bah

A Nigerian spice a little like a tiny gourd in appearance. Only the seeds are used. They are slightly peppery in flavour.


A special bowl with a textured surface designed to crush and grind seeds such as sesame.


A Japanese specialty based on moulded rice patties flavoured with rice vinegar. It comes as maki - rolled in Nori seaweed, or nigiri - slices of fresh raw seafood or other delicacies laid across the rice patty.

Sweet Paprika

Sweet Paprika made from sweeter, milder varieties of capsicum. It has a good depth of flavour and also adds a vibrant colour.

Sweet Thai Basil

Sweet Thai Basil has a mild aniseed small and is similar to Italian Basil which can be used as a substitute. It has dark green leaves with purple stems.


Tacos are made using fresh soft corn tortillas which have been warmed and are filled with beans, meat (grilled not minced) and salsa. They are folded up to enclose the filling.

Tagine (Tajine)

The famous terracotta pot with a conical lid that is synonymous with Moroccan cooking. Food is gently cooked in terracotta and the shape allows the steam to circulate, which helps cook meat and vegetables perfectly.


A paste or butter obtained from grinding sesame seeds. Used in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cooking, often to thicken hommos or other dips but also as a sweet filling in cakes and pastries.


A red, egg-shaped tropical fruit that should be eaten cooked as the raw fruit can be quite tart. As a puree, tamarillo makes a good ingredient in ice cream or sorbet and can also be served with poultry or fish.


A souring agent made from the pulped fruit of the tamarind tree. Can be sold as liquid, pulp or paste. It is used frequently in Indian and other Asian cuisines.

Tamarind Paste

Tamarind paste is a fruity sour pulp which gives a tart sweetness to many dishes and curry pastes.


A round very fine sieve used for sifting flour and making the finest mashed potato and purees.


A popular Indian and South Asian dish of roasted chicken marinated first in yoghurt and spices that is traditionally cooked in a Tandoor (clay oven) but can also be barbecued or grilled. A blend of cayenne pepper, powder and turmeric gives it its distinctive red colour.


A great tradition in Spain where appetisers or small dishes of food are served with drinks (wine or sherry). A dozen or so different dishes will be set out on the bar for customers to make their selection. Classic tapas dishes include garlic prawns, croquettes, patatas bravas (potatoes served with a spicy tomato sauce), jamon and olives.


Tapenade is a paste made of black olives, capers, anchovies, mustard, basil and parsley. You can use it on Crostini or Bruschetta, with pasta and in sauces, as a marinade for meat and also for adding to casseroles and stews.

Tapioca Starch

Tapioca starch (povilho azedo) fermented and similar in texture to cornflour, it is used to make pao de queijo, a cheese bread served all over Brazil.


A thick, creamy Greek dip made from olive oil, fish roe, breadcrumbs and seasonings. Usually served as a mezze dish or as a hors d'oeuvre.


Brown skinned and covered in rough ridges, taro is a corn with white, pink or purple flesh. Thought to have been originally cultivated more than 7000 years ago, it has a slightly sweet flavour and is similar in texture to potato. It's used in savoury and sweet dishes.

Tarragon Vinegar

Vinegar, usually white wine vinegar, that has been flavoured with tarragon leaves.


Tartate has two very different meanings: A sauce made from mayonnaise, gherkins and capers or steak tartare, which is a made with minced beef served raw with egg yolk and seasoning.


Also known as rosette bok choy although very different in appearance to bok choy, Tatsoi has glossy, tight, dark curly leaves a little like a short silver beet. It has a similar flavour, however, to bok choy.


A popular hot drink that comes in many styles, strengths and varieties and can also be used in cookign and for adding flavour to foods while smoking.


A tiny, round, khaki-coloured grain closely resembling millet. It is the smallest grain in the world but highly nutritious. Used in Africa, especially for the Ethiopian staple flatbread called injera, it can also be found in some health food stores.


An amber coloured wine or mead derived from fermented honey. It is cooked with a special type of hops called gesho. Tej is one of the world’s earliest fermented drinks and is a favourite during feasts and celebrations and is often served at weddings.


A thin, nutty cake made from fermented soy beans, tempeh is a highly nutritious and versatile ingredient. Its firm texture allows it to be cooked in many different ways - marinated, deep-fried, boiled, or steamed.

Thai Eggplant (Apple Eggplant)

Thai eggplant (apple eggplant) are about the size of a golf ball and are either white or green. The white are used in curries and the green, which are more crunchy are used in salads. There is also very small pea eggplant, which are eaten whole and bursts in your mouth.

Thai Seasoning Sauce

Thai seasoning sauce is a Thai style soya bean sauce that has a different flavour to Chinese soy sauce. Popular brands include Golden Mountain or Maggi.

Thai Sweets

With the beautiful variety of delicious tropical fruits available in Thailand, fruit is what is usually served for dessert. The other popular dessert is called 'luk chup' which is made from mung bean paste and moulded into fruit shapes, coloured and dipped into an agar agar jelly to glaze.


A platter with small bowls that can be filled with various curries, chutneys and vegetable dishes and served with rice and usually dal and bread. Traditionally eaten with the right hand.

Thick Caramel Sauce

Thick Caramel Sauce is even more viscous than dark soy, this is used to add a depth of colour and flavour to many dishes. Surprisingly, despite its name, it is not sweet.

Throumbes Olives

Throumbes olives from the island of Thasos in Greece are sun-dried olives with a raisin like flavour.


Thyme is a herb predominantly associated with the Mediterranean. Often used in Mauritian curries and in the many braised French-derived meat dishes.


A layered dish cooked in a tall mould (timbale) and then turned out. Often made of rice layered with vegetables or slices of aubergine layered with other vegetables and tomato sauce.


A long pepper, also known as Balinese Pepper, Bengal Pepper and Jaborandi Pepper, which is used in Berbere spice mix. It is hot and warm with sweet overtones.


Tofu is made from soybeans. Japanese use both firm and silken varieties in a number of dishes.


Like a small green tomato only housed in a papery husk, used in Mexican cuisine to make salsas. They are tangier than normal green tomatoes.


Belonging to the nightshade family, tomato may refer to the plant or the edible, typically red, fruit which the plant bears. Originating in South America, tomatoes and now known, loved and used in cooking the world over. The fruit is rich in lycopene, giving it beneficial side effects in addition to its delicious and versatile flavour.

Tommy Ruff

The ruffie or tommy ruff is also known as an Australian herring (in Western Australia, at least). It actually belongs to a group of Australasian fish known as Australian salmons. Substitute with Spanish mackerel or bonito - in other words, a high oil fish.


Tortillas are soft, pancake like flatbreads, made with corn or wheat are eaten with most meals. Many expatriate Mexicans make them using corn masa and a tortilla press. They are then steamed.

Trout, Ocean

Also known as sea trout, ocean trout are freshwater trout that are raised or farmed in salt water. As with any trout, the change in their feed and environment will also produce changes in the quality of their flesh. Ocean trout are sought-after as eating fish due to their firm texture, sweet taste and high good oil content.

Trout, Wild

Trout farming is widespread in Australia today but there are still areas like the mountain lakes of Tasmania where wild trout are caught. Due to a greater variety in their diet and the environment in which they grow, their flesh will often be a different colour and have a more pronounced taste than the farmed variety.


Truffles are the fruiting body of a fungus known as melanosporum. They grow from spores usually found in the roots of oak or hazelnut trees. Harvested in winter once they have matured, they have a strong, earthy, almost meaty perfume and are highly sought-after, fetching up to several thousand dollars per kilo. Most prized are the rare white truffles but fresh black truffles are also a luxury item. Produced mainly in France and Italy, truffles are now being grown in Australia through a Tasmanian company. The word can also refer to a liqueur-flavoured chocolate confection.

Tsakistes Olives

Tsakistesolives are cracked green olives

Turkish Delight

Known also as loukoum, this sweet is made simply from sugar, water and cornflour with a variety of natural flavourings and nuts. The mix is boiled and then beaten, flavoured with rosewater oil or other perfumes, nuts are added and the mix is left to set before being cut into squares and rolled in icing sugar.


The rhizome of a tropical perennial plant. Powdered turmeric is bright yellow, adding great colour to dishes, and adds a sharp, bitter, spicy, lingering depth of flavour.


Believed to have first been cultivated in 2000 BC, turnips are picked young when small and sweet at the beginning of summer. The French love them pureed, pan-fried, steamed or classically paired with duck in canard aux navets or lamb navarin.


A popular Greek sauce made of yoghurt, cucumbers, garlic, salt, olive oil, pepper, dill and sometimes parsley and lemon juice. It is a popular accompaniment to meals and is often served with pita bread as an appetiser.


A thick wheat-flour noodle that is popular in Japanese cuisine. It is usually served hot as a noodle soup in a broth of dash, soy sauce and miring and topped with toppings that may include tempura, tofu, seaweed or scallions.

Ukrainian Easter Eggs

In several Eastern European countries, Easter eggs are decorated with dyes and symbols. The Ukrainian tradition is known as pysanka which literally means to write as the eggs are written on with a fine pen dipped in hot wax. The images on the egg can be purely decorative or derived from ancient symbols, often pagan in origin but transferred into the Christian tradition.

Unsaturated Fat

A type of fat that is liquid at room temperature.

Unsweetened Chocolate

Chocolate with no added sugar. Generally composed of 55 percent cocoa butter and 45 percent chocolate mass from the bean. Also known as baking chocolate.

Urad Dhal

An Indian lentil flour - one of many kinds of dhal.

Vanilla Pod

The sweetly fragrant dried pods of the vanilla orchid, a native of Mexico, which can be used either whole or split to reveal the aromatic seeds, and then stored in a sugar jar to impart its flavour, or used directly in custards, creams and milk puddings. Vanilla essence or extract is the concentrated liquid extract of vanilla pods, which can be used as flavouring in place of the real thing.

Vegetable Carving

Part of many women's education in South East Asian countries is the art of creating pretty and colourful garnishes for meals with fruit and vegetables.

Vegetable Shortening

A vegetarian alternative to lard often used in baking and when basting meat.


A game meat that is the meat of deer.


A sour grape juice, which can be used in cooking.


Literally meaning 'little worms', a fine spaghetti-like pasta or noodles. Can be made with wheat or rice flour.


A soup made from potatoes, leeks and cream, served cold, garnished with chopped chives. The name is also used to refer to any cold soup based on potatoes and another vegetable.

Vietnamese Mint

Vietnamese mint (rau ram) (polygonum) is long and narrow with pointed leaves that are green and crimsony brown in colour. It has a hot and spicy flavour, which combines well in salads and some shellfish dishes. Also called laksa leaf.


A cold sauce made from a mixture of vinegar, oil, pepper and salt, to which various flavourings can be added. Vinaigrette is used mostly for dressing green salads. The choice of oil (olive, sunflower, walnut etc) and vinegar is made according to the type of salad. Lemon juice can be used instead of vinegar.


A hot, spicy Indian curry dish that originated in the region of Goa. Its name comes from the Portuguese for vinegar and garlic and it typically includes vinegar and red Kashmires.


A Mauritian dish of fried fish or octopus preserved in a combination of mustard seeds, , garlic, oil and vinegar.


The Italian name for baby clams.

Wagyu Beef

Refers to several breeds of Japanese cattle that are genetically disposed to intense marbling that gives it a high percentage of unsaturated fat and delicious flavour. The meat from wagyū cattle is known worldwide for its marbling characteristics, increased eating quality through a naturally enhanced flavor, tenderness and juiciness, and thus a high market value. In several areas of Japan, beef is shipped with area names, including Kobe, Mishima and Matsusaka. Highly prized for their rich flavor, these cattle produce arguably the finest beef in the world.


Wakame, an integral component of miso soup, is a variety of seaweed that comes fresh or dried and ready to reconstitute in water.


On the picturesque east coast of Tasmania, one of the world's most ancient foods is being cultivated. The flat fertile soil in this warmest part of Tassie produces a third of Australia's walnuts. They're grown here for a large agricultural company called Websters. Walnuts reportedly grew in the Hanging Gardens of Babylon and they've been found in south west France in excavations from the Neolithic period. For thousands of years they've been gathered by hand as they ripen in autumn. April is harvest time. The nuts can be shaken from the trees by machine but a good method is also a rubber hammer, used to bang the tree trunks and shake the nuts to the ground. Walnuts have been called a super food because they're full of the good fats - the highest levels of Omega 3 found in any nut, plus protein, vitamin B6, folates and zinc. A young tree take about five to six years before fruiting but will double and triple its yield after that. A tree can live for up to 70 years. There are many different varieties including the creamy Lara English. To crack them, hold two walnuts in the palm of your hand and crush one against the other. It's the taste and the crumpled beauty of the walnut that attracts Hobart chef Chris Jackman. In the warm cosiness of his bakery, Chris creates breads and sweets using local walnuts - including a luscious walnut and maple syrup tart and a fragrant walnut and oregano bread (see recipes below).

Warrigal Greens

A native Australian spinach that has become commonly available in New Zealand and France.


Although often thought of as related to horseradish, wasabi is actually a herb. Most commonly used in Japanese cooking, as a condiment, it has a pungent, peppery flavour not unlike horseradish. The roots are a pale green in colour. You can also eat the leaves, flowers and stalks. It's hard to find fresh although Tasmania has a small industry. Most commonly it's found as a paste or dried powder and served with sushi and sashimi.

Wat (or Wot)

A thick spicy Ethiopian stew made of meat, vegetables and the spice mix berbere and served on top of Injera bread.

Water Chestnuts

A small brown tuber with crisp, sweet flesh, used in Asian cuisine. Fresh water chestnuts can be eaten raw but need to be peeled before use. To cook, simmer for a few minutes after peeling and add to stir fries. There are many varieties, including a native Australian variety.


The all-purpose mixing tool for whipping, beating, making sauces.


White ocean fish, a member of the cod family, best bought fresh. Good for making fish cakes and mousse.

Wild Mushrooms

Of the many kinds of farmed mushrooms now available year round, none can match the perfume of the wild forest mushrooms found in Australia's pine forests through autumn. The spores are thought to have reached Australia in the pine seedlings exported here from Europe. Wild mushroom types include the popular saffron milk cap (lacterius deliciosus) which is a bright orange colour with distinctive darkening rings and reddish-pink gills (the underside); and the boletus portentosus or slippery jack, which is dark brown on top with bright yellow spongy gills.


A versatile round-bottomed pan that is primarily identified with cooking stir fries, but can also be used to deep fry, braise, stew, smoke or make soup.


Chinese Cabbage used in soup, stir-fry or add to stuffing. It has a mild flavour with tender pale green leaves and crisp white stems. Shred finely for soups or cut into thicker pieces for stir-fries.

Wood Fired Oven

This is what gives that wonderful smoky flavour and crisp finish to pizzas. The thin crusts only take minutes to cook when placed onto the stone floor of these ovens that are heated to around 400 degrees Celsius.


A small freshwater crustacean found at the bottom of streams, lakes and in farm dams that are prized for their delicate, sweet flavour and firm texture.

Yabby Farming

Australian freshwater crayfish are being farmed for the gourmet market. A smaller, faster-growing cousin of the West Australian marron, yabbies are found in dams across the country but the farmed variety are fed on a chemical-free grain diet and purged for several days before being graded and sold live.

Yam or Bean Sargot or Bung Kwong

A pale brown tuber, yam bean has a white, crisp and slightly sweet flesh that is used most notably in popiah, a type of spring roll or finely sliced in rojak. (Also known as jicama).

Yau Jar Kwai or Crispy Crueller

A fried dough cooked on Singapore, its best eaten fresh and hot - with a black coffee for breakfast or chopped and added to rojak or Chinese congee for extra crunch.

Young Coconut Juice

The clear water from the coconut, not the richer white cream or milk.


Za'atar is a popular Middle Eastern mix of thyme, roasted sesame seeds, sumac and salt. Mix Za'atar with a little olive oil and serve as a dip or spread on flat bread.

Zucchini Flowers

The flower of the zucchini (also known as courgette) is the delicate yellow-petalled bud from which the vegetable grows. They are a member of the squash family. Zucchini flowers are in season from around October to late February and are much prized as an ingredient - because they can be baked, stuffed or deep-fried.