Bulgur - also known as "Ala"- is steamed, dried and milled wheat berries, which are whole wheat kernels. It can be cooked like rice and used in salads and pilafs. It is the main ingredient in Tabbouleh Salad.

Caraway is an herb commonly used in rye bread. It is a member of the parsley family. It's characteristics combine anise and dill, with a tang and a nuttiness. Every part of the plant is edible. It is common to the cuisines of Germany, India, Scandinavia and Indonesia. The seeds are used in beef and pork dishes. There is some confusion between cumin and caraway seeds, because they are similar in appearance, but the flavours are completely different and one cannot replace the other in recipes. Seeds can become bitter during long cooking. Add them in the last 15 minutes of cooking. The leaves are used in salads, soups and stews. The root is eaten as a winter vegetable - cooked or raw.

Carrots, Celery and Onions are known as the aromatic trio. Most soups, sauces and stews start with these three vegetables. The entire plants are edible and lend much flavour and nutrition to dishes. They are all readily available in any season and store well in most climates. Carrots are part of the parsley family, and go well with others of the family. The tops of carrots and celery are great in soups, so don't waste them.

Chili powder is a hot-tasting mixture of ground dried red chilies and other spices (often paprika, turmeric, cumin, coriander, oregano, black pepper or cloves.) It is used in the cuisines of the Southwestern USA and Asia. Powders vary in strength, (Asian powder is much hotter) so adjust the amount used accordingly.

Cinnamon is native to Sri Lanka. Cinnamon sticks are made from the bark of the plant and are then often ground for use. The sticks don't loose their flavour as quickly as the ground spice, however it is a pain to grind yourself, so I purchase it in both forms - the ground spice never lasts long enough in my house to lose it's flavour. The spice is used in both sweet and savory dishes the world over. Cassia, which is grown in India, Indonesia and Burma is similar. It is much stronger in flavour, and is cheaper, but lacks the delicacy of cinnamon. For sweet dishes especially, it is best to use true cinnamon. Look for the thin pale bark, sun-dried to form quills that are packed one inside the other. Cassia bark is much thicker because the corky layer is left on.

Cloves are the dried flower buds of an evergreen tropical tree native to Southeast Asia. Oil of cloves contains phenol, a powerful antiseptic that discourages putrefaction, and the clove is hence one of the spices that helps preserve food.

Coriander is an herb cultivated in Morocco, Mexico, Argentina, Canada, India and the United States. It is a member of the parsley family. Every part of the plant is edible. The entire plant has a citrus taste, the leaves have a sage note and the roots are a bit nutty. The seed flavour is benefitted by toasting. Then the toasted seeds need to be ground, as the husk is quite tough. The leaves are known as "cilantro", "dhania", "fragrant green" or "Chinese parsley". Heat diminishes their flavour quickly, so leaves are often used raw or added to the dish right before serving. Coriander is common to the cuisines of Asia, Mexico, South and Central America, Spain, and Central Africa.

Cornmeal is meal made from ground, dried dent corn. Dent corn contains less sugar and more starch than the sweet corn which is eaten fresh. Coarse, medium and fine grinds can all be used in most recipes. Different colours can also be found and used. Masa harina is made from hominy - corn that has been treated with slaked lime (a white alkaline substance consisting of calcium hydroxide, made by adding water to quicklime) or lye to loosen the hulls and partially cook the kernels, which are then washed, dried and ground. It is used to make tortillas, and can also be used instead of cornmeal, and some other flours. Like rice flour, it has no gluten.

Cream of tartar - also known as potassium bitartrate or potassium hydrogen tartrate - is a byproduct of winemaking. It is the potassium acid salt of tartaric acid. It is used: to stabilize egg whites, increasing their heat tolerance and volume; to prevent sugar syrups from crystallizing; to reduce discolouration of boiled vegetables; in combination with baking soda (which needs an acid ingredient to activate it) in formulations of baking powder; and in combination with potassium chloride in sodium-free salt substitutes. A similar acid salt, sodium acid pyrophosphate, is confused with cream of tartar due to their similar function in baking powder.

Cumin - also spelled cummin - is available as seed, or ground. It is used in Indian cuisine. There is some confusion between cumin and caraway seeds, because they are similar in appearance, but the flavours are completely different and one cannot replace the other in recipes.

Fats All fats and oils have different properties. They have different burning temperatures, become solid at different temperatures (fats are solid at 21 C, oils at lower temperatures), different tastes and different nutritive value etc... Butter has a flavour which is widely appreciated, but it burns easily. When browning, this is advantageous. When sauteing, this can be a problem. Adding oil to a pan with butter raises the point at which it will burn. In most recipes, you can substitute whatever fat is called for with what you are used to cooking with. It will change the taste/texture of the dish, but not seriously. When you use a particular fat, you get used to its qualities, so use the quantity suggested along with your experience to make the switch. If you aren't sure, try mixing your preferred fat with the fat suggested in the recipe. It is harder to change fats when baking, than cooking, as consistency and other chemical properties are very important when baking.
Toasted nut oils (walnut, almond, sesame, and macadamia) have intense flavour and cannot stand heat. They are used as condiments and seasonings in small quantities.

Garam masala is a mixture of ground spices used in Indian cooking. Some mixtures use hot spices, others only the fragrant spices. Made from good quality spices and stored airtight, it will keep its flavour and fragrance for months. Spices often included are: coriander seed, cumin seed, black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and mace.

Lamb Most lamb are only 5 to 7 months old. Smaller, younger lamb is sold as hothouse, milk-fed, spring or Easter lamb (which is available year-round.) Mutton is meat from sheep over 1 year old, the meat is darker and richer in flavour than lamb, and has more fat. Leg, chops, rack and loin are tender enough for dry-heat cooking: roasting, broiling, sauteing or grilling (not suitable for the slow-cooker.) Shoulder, shanks and breast are best braised or stewed until tender (great for slow-cooking.) Lamb has a strong flavour and you can season it strongly as well.

Oats have nutritional value, especially for their fiber, half of which is the insoluble type that aids digestion and the other half the soluble type that lowers cholesterol. Roast oat grains smell like vanilla.
Oatmeal is a fine flour. It has a low gluten content, so is not used on it’s own for making bread.
Rolled oats - also known as “flaked oats” - have been steamed and then flattened into flakes. They are called: old-fashioned oatmeal, quick-cooking oatmeal, and instant oatmeal; all of which can be cooked in 5 minutes or less.
Oat groats are hulled oat berries that are either steel cut (also called Irish oatmeal or Scotch oats) or crushed. Oat groats take longer to cook than rolled oats and yield a chewy porridge. All oats are whole grains and still have the bran.
Oat bran is the outer layers of the oat kernel only; it is sold crushed and is cooked as a cereal.

Rice stick - also known as "Thai flat rice sticks", "rice fettuccine", "Mekong rice stick", "ban pho" (Vietnamese), "ho fun" (Chinese), "sen lek" (Thai), "kway teow" (Malaysian). These rice noodles come in different widths; the thinner ones are best for soups, the wider ones for stir-fries or Pad Thai. Before using, rice sticks should be soaked in hot water until they're soft and transparent. They can then be used in soups, or add along with some broth to stir-fries. Substitutes: rice vermicelli OR fettuccine OR bean threads OR somen. They can be found in most supermarkets, but especially the ones specializing in Asian foods. In the Asian markets, they can even be found fresh, in which case, they need to be boiled for 3 minutes before using.

Soya Sauce - also known as Soy Sauce. A naturally fermented product aged up to 2 years.

Sui Choy - also known as "Chinese", "Napa", "Peking", or "Celery" Cabbage - has oblong heads with pale ruffled leaves and crunchy ribs. It is available in any Asian market, as well as most Western ones. It is sweeter than round cabbage. Eat it cooked or raw. Try it the next time you make slaw.

Tahini is a sesame seed paste, usually sold in jars along side nut butters. It is used in Asian and Mediterranean cooking. To make your own: Very lightly roast 4 cups of white sesame seeds until fragrant (not more than 10 minutes.) Blend/process them with up to 1/4 cup vegetable oil (as needed.) It takes about 3 minutes to get to a smooth paste. When mixed with a sugar syrup, it creates a dense, chewy, nutty-tasting candy called halvah.