5 Exotic Ingredients to Buy and Try in 2020

Thursday December 03, 2020
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Spices

No matter how good at cooking you may be, after a while, you start to want to learn more after a time. But with the same ingredients every day, it's a challenge to expand and try new things. 

For the kitchen-savvy among us, buying these simple ingredients can help push culinary skills to a new level. So whether it's using common ingredients in new ways or wrestling with something completely new, these five ingredients can help broaden the most experienced palettes. 

1- Turmeric

Turmeric is a staple in many cuisines. Often used in South and East Asian recipes, its bright yellow colour and distinct taste form the base for many curries. While it is a common ingredient on the labels of curry pastes and spice mixes, Turmeric has many other uses. 

Turmeric's slightly bitter taste makes it a perfect ingredient to balance against sweeter flavours. Using it in smoothies and teas adds a beautiful colour along with a unique taste. 

It also helps that turmeric has some noted health benefits of having anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties. 

If you want to find the best turmeric, and receive the best chance for health benefits, look online for high-grade turmeric in UK with maximum curcumin content

2- Kaffir Lime Leaves

These glorious small leaves give off a fantastic scent and flavour. They provide the distinct taste found in many Thai curries, light, and zesty with the trademark lime taste. 

Outside of Thailand and Cambodia, they are most often available dried, so cooking them with some liquid is usually necessary to release their flavour. 

Beyond their obvious use in curries, Kaffir lime leaves make perfect additions to a fried batter mix and even to exotic cocktails. Boil the leaves down into a syrup, or buy it readymade, and add to any coconut or lemon-based drink for a new and fresh lemony taste. 

3- Cherimoya

This specialist fruit, often called Custard Apple, is an excellent addition to your kitchen for many reasons. Originally coming from South and Central America, Cherimoya has a creamy sweet taste that pairs best with banana, coconut, and mango. 

Like many tropical fruits, it matches perfectly with yoghurts and creamy desserts, but its versatility doesn't stop there. Cherimoya can upgrade any lacklustre salsas and chutneys. 

Don't be deterred by its appearance; it's well worth a try. 

4- Yucca

To those familiar with South American and Caribbean cooking, Yucca, or Cassava, is probably nothing new. But this South American root vegetable has extraordinary cooking potentials. Its taste is slightly earthy and sweet, and while its appearance resembles sweet potatoes or ginger, it's incredibly versatile. 

Like potatoes, you can prepare yucca in almost every way. Steam it, boil it, bake it, fry it, mash it, or make it into chips — it will taste great. It's no wonder that it remains a staple product in various parts of the world. 

5- Za'atar

If you haven't tried Za'atar in one of its many forms, it should be on your next shopping list. This Middle Eastern favourite refers to two possible ingredients:

             Specific strands of Oregano found in the Middle East

             A spice mix including this strand along with roasted sesame seeds, sumac, and other spices

Depending on the mixture, a herby and lemony taste with an overall savoury taste is what you should expect. 

Its uses span a variety of settings, from a children's snack to a formal dinner party touch. Toasting za'atar on bread with either butter or cheese provides a simple yet flavourful snack that is a popular favourite for children in the Middle East. 

Otherwise, it also makes a great addition to a salad dressing, or a simple dip for bread when paired with oil. 

Complete Your Kitchen Cupboard

It's too easy to get stuck cooking the same things, especially if you keep stocking the same supplies. So try buying yourself one of these ingredients to force your cooking in a new direction. Variety is the spice of life, so why not try it once a while?