Terms - Chakalaka to Cumin

Chakalaka to Cumin – Descriptions and photographs where available of South African culinary terms and ingredients.

Known as elachi in the Indian community. The dried seed pods are available in two varieties – green or white. It is best to buy cardamom seeds in small quantities and to use as needed, since they quickly lose their pungent aroma and distinctive flavour after they have been ground. The aromatic dark brown seeds are generally left whole or are lightly crushed for curries, breyanis and other rice dishes. Ground cardamom is also used in the preparation of puddings, koesisters, biscuits and cakes… more
Cassia is reddish brown when powdered, with a pronounced, slightly bitter aroma. Chunks of cassia bark are thick but brittle, and they’re often sold in small pieces or irregular shapes. In the United States and France, cinnamon refers to both cinnamon and cassia; in England and Australia it’s illegal to sell “cinnamon” that’s actually cassia. In Europe, cassia is generally found only in Chinese markets. Cassia is preferred in Asia and goes into Hunan “red cooking” or “red braising” (hongshao), wherein food is cooked in a spiced broth or master sauce… more
Chakalaka – a spicy condiment that almost always include grated carrots, chopped garlic, chunks of green pepper, sliced onions, cauliflower florets, chopped chillies, ginger, coriander, curry powder and tinned baked beans… more
Chilli - Whole and Powder 
There are many different varieties of chillies, some much sharper then others. Unripe or green chillies are juicier, with more flavour, while ripe red chillies are hotter. Pounded or liquidised chillies mixed with a little oil and salt can be stored in sealed containers in a refrigerator for easy use. Dried chillies should be torn into pieces and soaked in hot water for 10 minutes to soften. Chilli powder is generally red in colour and made from dried red chillies. It is excellent for foods that need a bit of colour and gives an extra bite that makes quite a difference. Use instead of ground black pepper on chops and fish. Chillies are a must for most curry dishes, chutneys and sambals, so experiment for the best results… more
Cinnamon Stick and Powder 
The bark of a tropical tree which has a rich, strong, spicy aroma and a delicious, sweet flavour. In Malay cooking, stick cinnamon is added to curries, breyanis, vegetables, puddings and desserts. Ground cinnamon is also used in baking, melktert and confectionery… more
Cloves - Ground and Whole 
Cloves are the dried, unopened buds of a tree indigenous to Indonesia. They have a pronounced aroma and a strong, almost bitingly sharp, spicy taste. Cloves are used to flavour many savoury and sweet dishes, and the flavour blends well with other spices like cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg. Ground cloves are stronger than whole ones, so take care to use only a pinch or the flavour will be too overpowering… more
Coriander - Fresh, Whole and Ground 
Also known as koljander, a seed which tastes sweet and aromatic and should be roasted before being ground to bring out a more curry-like flavour. Coriander seeds crushed together with jeera are widely used in curries and other meat dishes… more
Curry Leaves
Curry Leaves 
These are available fresh or dried. Fresh ones are mainly used for garnishing curry dishes while dried curry leaves are used in the preparation of leaf masalas.
Curry Powder
Curry Powder 
This mixture of borrie, whole coriander, jeera, ginger, fenugreek, black peppercorns, chilli and mustard seeds is best when freshly ground. Many commercial preparations, including curry paste, are also available, but these do not have the flavour of fresh aromatic spices and tend to lend a sameness to everything in which they are used. Malay people mostly use masala in cooking and only use curry powder in sweet/sour dishes such as penang curry, sosaties, bobotie and pickled fish.
Crayfish Tails 
South African crayfish (Spiny Lobster) with their long antennae and rough, spiny carapace (shell), are one of the delights of the crustacean world. The meat, most of which is found in the tail, is sweet, firm-textured and very white when cooked. It can be used in any recipe needing lobster… more
Cumin Seeds 
Cumin (Cuminum cyminum), also known as jeera, has small, curved, khaki-coloured fruits (commonly called seeds) with a warm, earthy, lingering aroma and pleasingly bitter, pungent flavour. Cumin is highly popular in the Middle East, India, North Africa, western and central Asia, Spain, and Latin America. Iran is reputed to produce top-quality cumin seeds… more

Category: South African Cuisine

Subcategory: South African Culinary Terms & Ingredients