Every kitchen pantry today should include a variety of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean herbs and spices to complete and enhance modern recipes. With the current popularity of international foods and cooking styles, natural seasonings from these locations are in constant demand. If you are a creative home chef who likes to experiment with inventing your own favourite dishes, these exotic herbs and spices will help you produce true works of culinary art. 

Perhaps your cooking style involves embellishing tried-and-true recipes with exotic herbs and spices. For any type of creative food preparation today, you will definitely benefit from having a good supply of these seasonings from the Middle Eastern and Mediterranean regions available for use.  

Why Middle Eastern and Mediterranean Herbs and Spices are a Must for Modern-day Pantries

A wide array of familiar and exotic natural herbs and spices are available to shoppers in fresh food markets, natural herb shops and specialty spice stores today. Due to their popular use, many home chefs would now find it difficult to cook without these exotic seasonings. 

Many people are familiar with seasonings from these global regions that are often used in preparing foods, such as cumin. This spice is ground from the seeds of a plant of the parsley family that is native to Egypt and the Levant. Its distinctive and rich aroma and flavour are commonly associated with curry powder used in preparing many different curry dishes. 

Another familiar spice is saffron from the bright burnt-orange coloured stigmata of the saffron crocus flower. Saffron was first harvested near Greece, and today’s major supply comes from Iran. As a seasoning for dishes containing apples, citrus fruits, nuts, poultry, lamb and seafood, saffron has a warm, earthy, floral taste, without sweetness.      

More exotic Middle Eastern and Mediterranean herbs and spices for enhancing and accentuating modern meals include the following: 

• Aleppo Pepper. – Often used in recipes that call for crushed red pepper or paprika, Aleppo Pepper is native to Aleppo, Syria. Today, it is harvested only in certain regions of Syria and Turkey. The pepper pods of this plant turn burgundy in colour as they ripen. When partially dried, the pods are ground to a coarse consistency for use in seasoning foods. This pepper has a mild flavour that combines a fruity taste with slight saltiness and softer hints of cumin and raisin-like flavours.     

• Mahlab. – This ancient Middle Eastern spice comes from the seeds of the Mahaleb or St. Lucie cherry. These seeds are first extracted from the cherry pits and then ground into a smooth powder. This full-bodied spice is used in small amounts to add flavour to sweets and baked breads. Somewhat similar to the distinctive taste of marzipan, Mahlab combines a biting almond flavour with the taste of fresh cherries.     

• Zaatar. – This is a spice blend that contains dried thyme, dried oregano, sumac, sesame seeds and salt. Originating in ancient Egypt, Zaatar is used extensively in food preparations in Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Jordan and Turkey. In Palestine, caraway seeds are included in this herbal blend for a brighter green colour and slight hint of bitterness. This seasoning is known for its citrus and nutty herbal taste and is often added to bread dipped in oil, sprinkled on salads or used in meat marinades.  

For the ultimate quality selection of fine Middle Eastern and Mediterranean herbs and spices, contact our experts at Medfoods in Melbourne, Victoria. Since 2003, our company has been the leading supplier of local and imported international foods for Australia, providing ultimate quality, exotic seasonings from these regions of the world to all the best food and spice markets.