In general, a spice is a seed, fruit or any plant substance used in adding flavour to food. This is quite different from herbs which are plant leaves, flowers or stems used for garnishing or flavouring food. Without further ado, here is a list of some spices you’ll need for your cooking
List of Indigenous Spices
1. Local Names: Mpuru uziza (Igbo), (Ashanti pepper) (ghana), Benin pepper, false cubeb English Name: West African pepper Botanical Name: Piper guineese
West African pepper seeds are from the popular uziza plant. Just like the leaves, the seeds are even hotter, more peppery and very spicy therefore they are used sparingly. They contain very large amounts of beta-caryophyllene, which is an anti-inflammatory agent. They also contain significant proportions of myristicin, elemicin, safrole and dillapiol (wiki). It also adds a very nice aroma and flavor to whatever it’s cooked with. According to research, Uziza seeds have preservative and anti-oxidant properties. It’s used in some spice mixtures as well as meals like Ofe Nsala, ……..
2. Local Name: Kanafuru (Hausa) English Name: Cloves Botanical Name: Syzygium aromaticum
Cloves are one of a kind. They are flower buds of a tree in the Myrtaceae family. In several places around the world, such as Asia, Africa, they are used in spices to add flavor to meats, curries, and marinades. In Nigeria, It’s usually added to stews, spices and drinks like Zoboroto, Kunun Zaki (millet type)….
3. Local Names: "Ehu"/ "Ehuru"(Igbo) , "Ariwo"(Yoruba) , "Iwo" "Erhe (itshekiri)") English Name: Calabash Nutmeg Botanical Name: Monodora myristica
This is a local type of nutmeg. Although it has a totally unique flavor compared to the general nutmeg sold. In other regions, it’s also known as Jamaican nutmeg, muscadier de Calabash, nutmeg, awerewa, ehiri, airama, African orchid nutmeg and lubushi. It’s usually roasted to improve its flavor and used in the preparation of cuisines like; Isi ewu, Ofe nsala, Nkwobi, Abacha and a host of others.
4. Local Name: "Umilo" itshekiri) English Name: Nutmeg Botanical Name: Myristica fragrans
Nutmeg is a common spice used to flavor most pastries and baked goods. Usually, the seeds are dried gradually in the sun over a period of six to eight weeks when harvested. After then, the shell is then broken and the nutmegs are picked out. It has a nice fragrance and is usually added to meats, bread, buns, pies, sausages and even beverages.
Ginger root is widely used as a spice which is also valued for it’s medicinal benefits. It’s used in beverages such as Zoboroto, Ginger beer/ale, Kunu and also used to flavor meats, fish, stews and sometimes soups. In folk medicine, it’s used to treat cold, cough, catarrh or sore throat.
6. Local Name: English Name: Garlic Botanical Name: Allium sativum
This plant which is part of the onion family has been used for several years in flavoring food as well as traditional medicine for different ailments due to its medicinal components such as allicin, a sulfur compound contained within. The entire “head” is called a garlic bulb, while each segment is called a clove. There could be about 10-20 cloves in a single bulb of garlic. Its used to combat common cold, reduce blood pressure, improve cholesterol levels, detoxify heavy metals in the body, add nice flavor to food and lots more.
This is a regular feature in peppersoups especially the type usually prepared for pregnant women. The uda pods are sometimes smoked and crushed then added whole to soups or stews to add flavor, then removed before serving the food. Smoked pods can be ground before being used as a spice rub for fish or meat. Other names include: kimba pepper, African pepper, Moor pepper, Kani pepper, Kili pepper, Sénégal pepper, Ethiopian pepper, Hwentea and Guinea pepper.
8. Local Name: Gbafilo English Name: Botanical Name: Uapaca guineesis
9. Local Name: Ataiko English Name: Botanical Name:
10. Local Name: Irugege English Name: Botanical Name:
11. Local Name: Oburunbebe Stick English Name: Liquorice ( British English ) or licorice ( American English ) Botanical Name: Glycyrrhiza glabra
This is a regular spice used in preparing some Niger delta dishes such as Banga soup. The root has a sweet flavour which can be extracted and used in flavoring sweeteners or candies or sweeteners in some other countries. It’s not uncommon to find it in sweets mixed with mint, menthol or aniseed . In some countries like Italy (particularly in the south), Spain and France, liquorice is popular in its natural form. The root of the plant is simply dug up, washed, dried, and chewed as a mouth freshener.
13. Local Name: English Name: Tumeric Botanical Name:
14. Local Name: English Name: Alligator pepper Botanical Name: