Nutmeg, known as small Indian nut in Turkish, is believed to have developed first on the Banda Islands east of the Malaysia peninsula. Nutmegs are native to Indonesia and are extensively grown in tropical Asia and America.

It is said that massaging with nutmeg oil relieves rheumatic pains.

It is supposed to have been an expensive and highly esteemed spice in the cuisine of the Middle Ages. It was very popular from the 15th to the 19th century. It was generally carried in wooden or silver boxes with an in-built grate.

Dutch merchants held the nutmeg trade in their hands for a very long time. However their monopoly was broken when spices were smuggled out of the Islands and grown elsewhere.

It is rumoured that the single ingestion of a large quantity of nutmegs may cause hallucinations, that it is a hallucinogen. Such a large quantity of the spice is also poisonous.

Indonesia and Granada, whose flag bears the image of the nutmeg are leaders in nutmeg production. The first harvest to be obtained from a nutmeg tree requires 7-9 years after it is planted and reaches its full production in 20 years.

Nutmeg is the essential spice for sauce bechamél. It also goes very well with spinach. It is sprinkled on hot or cold eggnog as an ornament.

I suggest you buy nutmeg whole. Prick a needle into it to check that it is fresh. A droplet of oil should appear on its surface. Grate the required quantity indicated in the recipe. Nutmeg powder very quickly loses its aroma and taste.



Ginger is one of the oldest known spices, maybe the oldest. Like its other relatives of the ginger family (galingale, curcuma, turmeric), ginger cannot be obtained from seeds but only by dividing its roots, which shows that it has been cultivated under the control of man for a time long enough to make it lose its basic characteristic as a wild plant. It was domesticated somewhere in Southern Asia in prehistoric times. The fact that the nomads brought this spice with them is that this plant was different from the natural vegetation in places where it grew. This is quite understable as ginger is a spice, a herb and a medicine at the same time. It is believed to have gone from Southern China to the Philippines and to the Spice Islands, from where it spread east and westward.

Starting from the early Roman Empire doctors to the Hellenic, Arabic and Persian pharmacists, ginger was known for its warming and stomachic characteristics, as an appetizer and an antidote for various poisons. It was also considered a must in its birthplace China at that time in what is known today as Cantonese cuisine.

It is known that the Spaniards were engaged in the ginger trade between Jamaica and continental Europe in the 16th century. It was one of the major spices in Europe during the Middle Ages. Gingerbread goes back to that period. Ginger beer and ginger ale originated in the 19th century when British publicans sprinkled ginger into their beverages.

Ginger rightfully still keeps its place in traditional medicine. It is found in various forms all over the world. Large quantities come from Jamaica, India, Africa and China in this order. Jamaican ginger is considered to be the best ginger. As it usually grows in tropical climates, it is mostly known in powder form, as a preserve or for its ripe, aged root. The major producers of powdered ginger are India and China. Young roots found in tropical markets have a very thin shell. They can easily be grated, sliced and even squeezed to extract their juice.

Be sure that the skin of the ginger root you buy is unblemished. A wrinkled skin proves the root is dry and that it is too late to use it. It has to have a fresh and aromatic fragrance. You can keep it tightly wrapped in the refrigerator for 3 weeks without peeling it, and 6 months in the freezer. You can also peel it, place it in a closed jar topped with dry wine and keep it in the refrigerator for 3 months.

Add 1/4 cup thinly sliced ginger to 1/2 cup honey that you warmed through in a bain marie and let it macerate for a week. Add 1-2 tbsp of this concoction and 1-2 tbsp lemon juice to 1 cup boiling water to remedy cold. You can also use it to sweeten lemonade in summertime.



Cumin, already mentioned in 14th century B.C. Mycenaean tablets, is a spice often used in Middle Eastern, Latin American, North African and Asian cuisine. It was also used in Europe during the times of the Hellenic civilisation and the Roman Empire, but disappeared during the Middle Ages except in Spain and Malta. It is even said that the ancient Greeks, like Turks do, serve cumin in its special container at meal times. It is thought that Latin America got acquainted with cumin through the Spanish colonizers.

Cumin, mentioned in the Old Testament, is a plant of the parsley family. According to the New Testament, it is a spice used in soups and the production of bread.

The plant is native of Eastern Mediterranean and Middle Eastern. The cumin flower, known as cumin grains, may be light colored or black. As compared to the light colored seeds, the black cumin seeds have a more complex, peppery taste.

One of the main components of known as chili powder, curry and North African spice blend ras-el hanout is cumin.

While Persia was historically the main supplier of cumin, India, Syria, Pakistan and Turkey are known today as the major sources of the spice.

Aromasını daha uzun süre koruduğu için tohum olarak almanızı tavsiye ederim. Kullanacağınız zaman yağsız tavada, kokusu çıkıncaya kadar ısıtıp değirmende öğütebilir veya havanda dövebilirsiniz.

To make cumin tea, add ½ teaspoon cumin seeds to 1 cup of water and bring to the boil. Remove from burner, let it rest for 10 minutes and drain. Enjoy this tea, said to act as a diuretic and tranquilizer.

hardal tohumu

mustard seed

Mustard seeds found in excavations conducted both in antique Hellenic cities as well as in Egypt are 4000 years old. Until black pepper trade was started in 400 B.C., the most bitter taste and the cheapest ingredient known in the Mediterranean region was mustard seeds. The definition of mustard as we know it is encountered since the early Roman Empire epoch.

A mother who lost her only son asks Budha for help. Budha tells her to bring a handful of mustard seeds from a household who hasn't lost a son, a husband, a mom, a dad or a friend. She cannot find a home in her village like this, so she realizes that death is for all and she can't be selfish in her grief...

There are 3 types of mustard. The one yielding black seeds is native to Europe and is the one with the sharpest taste. As it is however a difficult plant to grow, it is slowly relinquishing its place to brown mustard. Brown mustard is a black mustard and turnip hybrid. It is easier to grow and harvest. It has a medium sharp bitterness. Many ready-made European brands are made of brown mustard seeds. White/yellow mustard is native to Europe and less sharp than the other two. The biting, pungent feeling that reaches up to the nose is softer than in black or brown mustard. The white seed type is more used in American brands. English mustard is made of a mixture of white and brown seeds.

You can make mustard by soaking the seeds in water for a few hours and grinding them. Acid liquids like vinegar, wine and fruit juice are generally used to keep the pungent sharpness for a longer time. As cooking will soften this sharpness, it is suggested to be added toward the end of the cooking process.

Cucumber brings freshness to the taste of mustard.

When mustard seeds are cooked, as in several Indian recipes, the harsh bitterness is replaced by a tasteful sharpness.

We can use our grammar school experience on growing bean sprouts on white mustard seeds. In 2 weeks’ time, the sprouts will have reached 5 cm., which you can add to your salads.