Feast on 4 Amazing Global Cuisines: Flavors and Ingredients from around the World

Alexandra (Alex) Chipurnoi
4 min readJun 7, 2023

Eating delicious dishes while maintaining a healthy diet can be a challenge. Skinless chicken breast, for example, is one of the best whole food sources of lean protein and provides vital macronutrients, including vitamin B6, zinc, and vitamin B12. However, chicken can be bland without spices and additional ingredients, particularly if you aren’t using the tasty, fatty skin to that otherwise provides richness and flavor to the meat. Many people looking to build muscle eat boneless chicken breast several times a week, which can be monotonous.

Fortunately, you can draw inspiration from a variety of international cuisines to make foods like chicken breast more appealing and flavorful. For instance, consider cooking up Mexican-inspired sheet-pan chicken fajitas with spices like cumin and chili powder and other ingredients, such as bell peppers, onion, and lime juice. You can also incorporate a mix of Italian spices and a moderate amount of grated cheese to make a low-fat take on chicken parmesan.

Below is a look at four international cuisines and the spices and flavorings for which they’re most known.

1. India

Indian dishes are known for their unique fragrance, mostly due to the use of herbs and spices like cardamom, clove, black pepper, coriander, nutmeg, and turmeric. Cardamom can be either green or black, with the former being the more common variety. It is routinely used in Indian spice mixes, including garam masala, and desserts. The black variation has an intense smoky, spicy flavor and should be used sparingly. Cloves are also commonly put into Indian spice mixtures.

Black pepper, although a common sight on dinner tables throughout the United States, is native to India; it is primarily grown in the Malabar and Western Ghats regions. It’s usually toasted before being blended into mixtures. Fresh black pepper can be used after cooking for added flavor. Coriander leaves, seeds, and powder are commonly found in Indian kitchens. The colorful leaves make an attractive garnish and are used to make green chutney, while the seeds are used to make fresh sambar masala and the powder can help add a subtle spice to Indian curries and gravies.

Dried red chiles, cassia bark, bay leaves, ajwain seeds, and cumin seeds are among the other common ingredients used in Indian dishes.

2. Greece

Although most Greek dishes are more savory than Indian dishes, the two cuisines have many spices in common. Staple spices of Indian cuisine like cardamom, cloves, coriander, and nutmeg are also frequently used in Greek cooking, but with different applications. Cardamom, for example, is usually used in Greece as seasoning for vegetables or to add flavor to sauces, but it is usually used in desserts in India and other countries. In Greek cuisine, cloves have a variety of uses, including in cakes, pastries, and traditional Christmas cookies called kourambiedes. They can also be grated into soups, inserted into pork prior to cooking, and used to season fish, poultry, meat, and vegetables.

Mahlab is another popular spice used in Greek cooking. Used in pastries and tsoureki, a sweet bread usually eaten during Greek Easter, mahlab is derived from the seeds of a wild sour cherry species and has a fruity taste. Saffron and mastic, a native spice also used in Greek Easter bread, are among the other most used spices in Greek cuisine.

3. Thailand

Thai dishes, whether cooked in restaurants or served up as street food, are known for a unique blend of spicy, sweet, and sour flavors. Chili powder is one of the most frequently him used spices in Thailand and is often found along with pickled chili peppers on dining tables in Thai restaurants. In addition, whole yellow, green, and red chilis are also frequently used to spice Thai food. Thai food also uses sugar to balance spice and add sweetness to nearly every dish, including soups and pasta.

Lemon grass, sweet basil, cumin, mint, coriander, cinnamon, and peanuts are among the other most used Thai ingredients. Pastes incorporating many of these spices, including yellow, green, and red curry, are also featured prominently in Thai dishes.

4. France

France is known for having one of the best cuisines in the world and has influenced global culinary trends for hundreds of years. Its dishes are more savory than spicy, with herbes de provence being one of the signature spice mixes used in French cuisine. This mix, made with a combination of oregano, lavender, thyme, rosemary, and tarragon, is used to season roasted vegetables and poultry.

Nutmeg, marjoram, and vadouvan are among the other commonly used spices and spice mixes used in French cooking to give food a rich, rustic yet herbaceous taste. Additional ingredients like crème fraîche, truffles, and shallots help give authentic savory French flavor to the country’s renowned cuisine.

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