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300 Herbs and Spices Trivia Questions, Answers, and Fun Facts

How much do you know about Herbs and Spices? This category is for trivia questions and answers related to Herbs and Spices (Hobbies). Each one is filled with fun facts and interesting information.
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1 Harissa paste is a spice blend made with red chili peppers, garlic, coriander, caraway, cumin and oil that originated in what region?
Answer: Northern Africa

The peppers that are fundamental to harissa came to North Africa with the Spanish, and quickly became part of the flavour tradition of the region. Most associated with Tunisia, harissa paste is a blend of spices that may also include tomatoes, mint, and even rose water. Recipes for Tunisia usually varied by household and region. Some infused smokiness into the paste by searing the skin of the peppers before grinding it in a paste. Harissa is used on fish, lamb and beef dishes and may be added to soups or used as a condiment.

This question was blended for your enjoyment by Phoenix Rising member VegemiteKid.
  From Quiz: Fired Up on Fiery Spices
2 What is the main herb found in pesto?
Answer: Basil

Basil is a plant with highly fragrant leaves. There are more than 60 varieties of this plant with sweet basil being the most common. It is also known for aiding in cardiovascular health and is full of Vitamin K.
  From Quiz: Presto! It's Pesto!
3 Lets start with some terminology! When describing the spiciness of different peppers, What is the scale that is most commonly used?
Answer: The Scoville Scale

The Scoville Scale measures the amount of capsaicin, the chemical compound that gives peppers their spiciness. Wilber Scoville invented this scale in the early 1900s.
  From Quiz: Born to be Mild
4 Name the spice which comes in pods of white, black and green?
Answer: Cardamom

"Cardamom", known as the queen of spices, is highly prized in India for it's use in curry blends. In Scandinavia it is used to flavour baking, pastries, meatballs and the mulled wine Glogg. People from Turkey use it to flavour their coffee. The green pods are the most often used as it is more flavourful. The white pods have usually been bleached and don't have the intense flavour that the green do. The black pods are much larger and are used in Asia for meaty curries and stews.

Horace the hungry dinosaur is drooling so I am going to give a recipe for "Baharat" which is a North African mixture of finely ground spices used to season beef, chicken, lamb and stews. It may also be used like salt and pepper.

3 Tbsp coriander seed
3 Tbsp ground paprika
2 Tbsp black peppercorns
2 tsp dried red chilli powder
1 tsp nutmeg
1 cinnamon stick
2 tsp cumin seed
1 Tbsp allspice
10 cloves
10 green CARDAMOM pods
Open the cardamom pods, discard the seeds and the rusks. Dry roast along with the cumin, peppercorns, cardamom seeds, allspice and cloves. Wait until they cool and grind. Finally grind the cinnamon stick and combine. Kept in a airtight container, Baharat spices should keep for four months. After that I find they lose their flavour.

    Your options: [ Mustard ] [ Cardamom ] [ Cumin ] [ Allspice ]
  From Quiz: Tasteless Dishes? Ever heard of Herbs and Spices?
5 Belonging to the same botanical family as parsley, this spice is known for its peppery flavor. The seeds are commonly used in cuisines of the Middle East, North Africa, and India and Pakistan. Name this popular spice.
Answer: Cumin

Dating back to Biblical times, the ancient Romans and Greeks frequently used cumin to season their food. The plant, which grows up to 1.6 feet tall, produces white or pink flowers. In the Middle Ages it was thought that cumin promoted fidelity and for this reason was carried during wedding ceremonies.
    Your options: [ Anise ] [ Sage ] [ Paprika ] [ Cumin ]
  From Quiz: Spice up Your Life
6 What is the national spice of Hungary?
Answer: Paprika

Paprika is made from dried capsicum peppers. It can be mild or sweet. It's also used to color or decorate foods such as deviled eggs due to its distinctive orange red color.
  From Quiz: Spice It Up
7 Jamaican jerk spice has two main ingredients; one of them being a spice that is called "pimento" in Jamaica. It is also called the Jamaica pepper, kurundu, and myrtle pepper. What spice is this?
Answer: Allspice

Allspice is made up of the dried berries of the plant Pimenta dioica. Some think allspice tastes like a combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.
  From Quiz: The Jerk Store Called...
8 There is more than one type of plant that produce products called peppers. One of the most common types of pepper is the black pepper we find on most tables. What is the name of this pepper?
Answer: piper nigrum

Piper nigrum is the dried fruit of the Piperaceae vine, originally from the Malabar coast of India. It was highly valued since ancient times. It has even been used as a type of money. The incorrect answers are different types of pepper, piper longum is long pepper, pimenta obscura is wild pimento, and capsicum is a whole family of peppers.
  From Quiz: Pick a Pepper
9 This spice has a warm, slightly bitter, taste and is used extensively in Mexican cuisine. It is a small green seed that can be used whole or ground.
Answer: Cumin

Cumin is the common name for the plant Cuminum cyminum, which is part of the parsley family. It is native to the area around the Mediterranean and the lands to the east as far as India. The Maltese island of Comino is named after the plant because it used to grow in abundance there.
    Your options: [ Turmeric ] [ Cumin ] [ Corriander ] [ Nigella ]
  From Quiz: Spice Up Your Life
10 This 'heavenly' herb can grow up to 8ft in height and the leaves can be used to flavour salads and mayonnaise. However, you probably know it in the form of crystallised stems for decorating cakes and other sweet treats.
Answer: Angelica

A tea made from fresh Angelica leaves is reputed to sooth headaches and an infusion of the roots can relieve a cold. However, there is so much natural sugar in the stems, that they should not be used by those suffering from diabetes.
    Your options: [ Rosemary ] [ Fennel ] [ Angelica ] [ Ginger ]
  From Quiz: Cooking with Herbs
11 This herb is found in a lot of Italian dishes as it complements oregano quite well. In addition, it is used in making pesto. Can you name it?
Answer: Basil

Most kitchens have the sweet basil variety that is great in Italian cooking. This herb also is a great one to include in your herb garden as the green vibrant leaves provide the flavor that accompanies oregano and thyme, two other great herbs for Italian dishes.
  From Quiz: Common Herbs and Spices
12 The botanic name for yarrow is Achillea Millefolium. From what is the genus name "Achillea" derived?
Answer: The Greek hero Achilles

Yarrow is named for Achilles, the great Greek leader in the Trojan War, who bound the wounds of his warriors with yarrow to staunch the blood and cleanse the wounds. Achilles learned the secret of yarrow's medicinal value from Chiron, the mythological Centaur, who was a skilled healer and herbmaster.
  From Quiz: Yarrow, the Versatile Herb
13 Not only is this extremely aromatic herb very soothing in a bath and wonderful with lamb, it is great with chevre.
Answer: Lavender

To make a lavender-chevre risotto, sauté 1 large shallot in olive oil over medium heat. Stir in 1 cup of arborio rice. Add 3 cups of simmering chicken broth, one ladleful at a time, stirring until all of the broth is absorbed before adding the next ladleful. When the rice is al dente and creamy, remove from the heat and stir in 4 ounces of chevre and 2 teaspoons of lavender flowers. This is great with grilled pork tenderloin or rack of lamb!
    Your options: [ Tarragon ] [ Lavender ] [ Summer Savory ] [ Chervil ]
  From Quiz: My Favorite Herbs
14 Which very useful word associated with the smell of spicy cooking comes originally from the Greek word for spice?
Answer: Aroma

The word 'aroma' literally means 'spice' in Greek. Scent is originally from the Latin 'sentire', meaning 'to perceive/smell'. Exude is also derived from the Latin 'exsudare', which means to 'sweat out', while fragrant comes from the French, via the Latin word 'fragrare' (to smell sweet).
    Your options: [ Scent ] [ Fragrant ] [ Exude ] [ Aroma ]
  From Quiz: My Favorite Spices
15 This herb is a member of the Allum family and is sometimes known as "Rush Leeks". It is found in most herb gardens (and kitchens) and is a valuable source of calcium. Which herb?
Answer: Chives

Chives are part of the onion family, but their flavour is fairly mild. They are traditionally added to cream cheeses and soured cream and add a new dimension. Chives, like Garlic and Onion, are thought to have a beneficial effect on the blood pressure and heart. Chive oil has excellent anti-bacterial properties.
    Your options: [ Basil ] [ Garlic ] [ Coriander ] [ Chives ]
  From Quiz: All About Herbs
16 From what country did pesto originate?
Answer: Italy

Pesto goes as far back as the ancient Romans. They used to crush garlic, cheese, and various oils together. Basil was added in the 1800s to give us the recipe most of us are familiar with today.
  From Quiz: Presto! It's Pesto!
17 Which pepper, with a Scoville heat rating of 0, would be the best for you if you just cannot handle any heat at all?
Answer: Sweet Bell Pepper

The very tasty Sweet Bell Pepper has the lowest Scoville rating possible: 0.
    Your options: [ Sweet Bell Pepper ] [ Red Savina Habenero ] [ Bhut Jolokia ] [ Scotch Bonnet ]
  From Quiz: Born to be Mild
18 Which spices make up the "Chinese five-spice" powder?
Answer: Peppercorns/Star Anise/Cloves/Cinnamon/Fennel

Easy peasy to make your own, grind together:

1 tsp. ground Szechwan peppercorns
1 tsp. ground star anise
1-1/4 tsp. ground fennel seeds
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
Store in an airtight container.

Use in any Chinese dish or use to flavour rice, vegetables, pork and chicken. Horace the dinosaur is licking his lips :)
    Your options: [ Peppercorns/Allspice/Cardamom/Cloves/Fennel ] [ Peppercorns/Star Anise/Cloves/Cinnamon/Fennel ] [ Salt/Pepper/Cloves/Fennel/Star Anise ] [ Cilantro/Cloves/Fennel/Cinnamon/Salt ]
  From Quiz: Tasteless Dishes? Ever heard of Herbs and Spices?
19 Allspice is the key ingredient in which popular food?
Answer: Jamaican jerk

Allspice is the berry of the pimento tree native to Jamaica and other Caribbean countries. It has the flavors of cinnamon, clove and nutmeg, thus its name allspice.
    Your options: [ Chili ] [ Spaghetti ] [ BBQ sauce ] [ Jamaican jerk ]
  From Quiz: Spice It Up
20 Jamaican jerk spice uses a very hot pepper to give it flavor. In fact, this pepper is rated around 100,000-350,000 on the Scoville scale. What pepper gives Jamaican jerk its spicy flavor?
Answer: Scotch bonnet

The Scotch bonnet is one of the hottest peppers, with a Scoville rating up to 350,000. This is very hot, considering a jalapeno rates roughly 2,500. The infinity chili was the world's hottest pepper at 1,067,286, but not for long. The Naga Viper pepper took the title of the world's hottest pepper on February 25, 2011, with a heat rating of 1,382,118.

The three hottest peppers (infinity chili, ghost pepper, and Naga Viper) are so hot that the spice of the peppers will stay with you for life.
  From Quiz: The Jerk Store Called...
21 Peppers are rated for their hotness on a scale that gives an idea of the relative heat of any capsicum pepper. What is it called?
Answer: Scoville Scale

The Beaufort Scale rates the strength of the wind, The Mohs Scale the hardness of a mineral, and the Saffir Simpson Scale the strength of hurricane winds.
The Scoville Scale measures the amount of capsaicin in the pepper. A jalapeno pepper rates up to about 8,000 on the Scale, while pure capsaicin rates between 15 and 16 million on the Scoville Scale. All ratings are approximate as there is a range of ratings for all types of peppers, due to growing conditions and other factors, even among peppers grown on the same plant.
  From Quiz: Pick a Pepper
22 This spice tends to be used quite sparingly. In its raw, uncooked, state it has an unpleasant odour which changes dramatically on cooking. It is known in India as hing.
Answer: Asafoetida

Asafoetida has the scientific name Ferula assafoetida. Apart from being used as a flavouring it is believed that it may help fight asthma, bronchitis and flatulence. Scientists in Taiwan have reported that the root of the plant contains compounds that can help destroy the H1N1 flu virus. When the world suffered the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918 asafoetida was used in parts of the world to help fight the disease.
    Your options: [ Carraway ] [ Asafoetida ] [ Garlic ] [ Corriander ]
  From Quiz: Spice Up Your Life
23 This fragrant leaf was sacred to Apollo and was woven into a wreath by the Ancient Romans to crown their champions. Most cooks prefer to use it in their Bouquet Garni.
Answer: Bay

Sometimes called Sweet Bay or Sweet Laurel, this well known tree can grow up to over 20ft, but is usually found in pots in kitchen gardens trained and twisted into pretty shapes.
    Your options: [ Sorrel ] [ Coriander ] [ Bay ] [ Elder ]
  From Quiz: Cooking with Herbs
24 Which herb is often used in pork dishes and is almost a necessity in the American south for making sausage?
Answer: Sage

A staple for sausage in the south, sage has a unique flavor that blends with sausage and other pork dishes. In addition, many cooks use sage in preparing stuffing, sauces and soups.
    Your options: [ Sage ] [ Bay Leaf ] [ Anise ] [ Onion Juice ]
  From Quiz: Common Herbs and Spices
25 What is the Latin name for cultivated garlic?
Answer: Allium sativum

Allium cepa are regular garden onions, allium oschaninii are shallots, and allium ampeloprasum is leek. All of these share the same genus (allium), and are closely related.
  From Quiz: The Poor Man's Cure-all: Garlic
26 Used in such diverse cultures as Scandinavia and India, this spice is one of the most expensive spices by weight. Because they lose flavor very quickly, the seeds are best kept in the pod until use and then ground.
Answer: Cardamom

Cardamom is a traditional ingredient in Turkish coffee. To make a wonderful (and easy)pot of Turkish coffee, pour 3/4 cup cold water into a small saucepan and add 1 to 2 teaspoons of sugar. Bring the water and sugar to a boil and remove from the heat. Add 1 tablespoon of extra-finely ground (even finer grind than espresso)coffee and 1 cardamom pod to the hot water and stir well. Return to the heat. When the coffee foams, remove from the heat and allow the coffee grounds to settle. Repeat this step twice more. Remove from the heat, pour into demitasse cups, allow the grounds to settle and enjoy a great cup of coffee!
    Your options: [ Cardamom ] [ Cumin ] [ Fenugreek ] [ Mace ]
  From Quiz: Culinary Essentials - Spices
27 Yarrow flowers look like clusters of tiny daisies. What colour are they?
Answer: white, pink or lavender

The flowers are the most aromatic part of the yarrow plant, and as such make a good potpourri ingredient. The dried flowers can be bought at specialist herbal shops.
  From Quiz: Yarrow, the Versatile Herb
28 The French variety of this anise-flavored herb is much more pungent than the Russian variety.
Answer: Tarragon

An easy recipe for chicken is to chop 2 cloves of garlic and mix it with 1 pint of heavy cream and 1/4 cup of chopped tarragon. Pour this over 4 skinless chicken breasts in a baking dish. Cover the dish with foil and bake at 300 degrees for 1 hours. Not the most slimming dish but really yummy!
    Your options: [ Borage ] [ Tarragon ] [ Fennel ] [ Hyssop ]
  From Quiz: My Favorite Herbs
29 Who said: "Eat no onions nor garlic, for we are to utter sweet breath"?
Answer: William Shakespeare

Bottom said this in "A Midsummer Night's Dream". Shakespeare didn't have anything good to say about garlic, although the Elizabetheans thought of garlic as an aphrodisiac.
  From Quiz: Garlic: The Stinking Rose
30 This is a very useful white-flowered plant whose leaves are used for cattle fodder. The seeds that it produces are commonly used in Indian cooking as a spice, and also as a yellow dye. What is the interesting name of this plant?
Answer: Fenugreek

The name 'fenugreek' is derived from the Latin 'faenugraecum', and literally means 'Greek hay'. It was used as fodder even in ancient times.
  From Quiz: My Favorite Spices
31 The French word for this herb is "incensier". The herb is thought to be the herb of remembrance and was used in the past in funeral rites. It adds a great flavour when cooked with lamb or potatoes. Which herb?
Answer: Rosemary

Wild Rosemary was used as a substitute for incense by the poor in Ancient Greece (hence its French name). This herb has many superstitions associated with it, including the ability to attract elves and being a preservative of youth when worn as a necklace! It is also said to ward off evil spirits and provide a good night's sleep if a sprig is placed under your pillow.
    Your options: [ Mint ] [ Parsley ] [ Oregano ] [ Rosemary ]
  From Quiz: All About Herbs
32 To make a good pesto, garlic is ground up with this crunchy ingredient before the basil is added. What heart healthy nut is utilized?
Answer: Pine nut

Pine nuts are the small edible seeds of a female cone in a pine tree. The pine trees grow in the Northern Hemisphere and produce a nut with a tough, brown outer covering but a delicious creamy white interior. Although high in calories, they are loaded with vitamins, minerals, and anti-oxidants.
  From Quiz: Presto! It's Pesto!
33 'Dhania' or 'hara dhaniya' is the seed of which plant, known for its 'soapy' taste and (to some) unpleasant smell?
Answer: Coriander/Cilantro

Coriander (known as Cilantro in the US) is found in most types of Asian cuisine. The seeds (or fruit) are used more often in Indian cooking than the rest of the plant although the leaves are often used as a garnish. Coriander seeds can be roasted or heated before grinding to enhance the flavour and aroma of the resultant dish.
    Your options: [ Thyme ] [ Parsley ] [ Coriander/Cilantro ] [ Basil ]
  From Quiz: Some Like It Way Too Hot
34 Which herb is known as "Saint Joseph's Wort"?
Answer: Basil

Basil is a great herb for soups, tomato sauces and tomato salads. If being used in a cooked dish, fresh basil should be added towards the end as it will lose its flavour.

My Tomato, Feta and Basil Salad Recipe:

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon dry (or 1 teaspoon of Dijon) mustard
Generous sprinkling of black pepper
1/3 cup olive oil
4 Italian plum tomatoes
Feta cheese
8 to 10 fresh basil leaves chopped finely

For dressing, combine vinegar, garlic, salt, mustard and pepper in small bowl.  Add oil slowly, whisking until it is thoroughly blended.
Slice tomatoes and cut the cheese bite sized pieces.
Place tomato and cheese pieces in large glass shallow bowl and then pour half of the dressing in with the chopped basil (leave a little basil for garnish)
Marinate in a covered dish for at least 30 minutes but the longer the better, turning it every so often.
Sprinkle with left over basil, drizzle with remaining dressing.

Horace the hungry dino says he prefers it with feta cheese and not all those recipes that tell you to use mozzarella. So, try it this way.
    Your options: [ Tarragon ] [ Basil ] [ Parsley ] [ Sage ]
  From Quiz: Tasteless Dishes? Ever heard of Herbs and Spices?
35 This spice is usually used whole or ground, but has a very strong flavor, so it isn't used in large quantities. In Mexican cooking, this spice is often paired with cinnamon and cumin. What spice is this?
Answer: Clove

Clove is very strong in flavor, so not much is used in most seasonings. Whole cloves are often used to make a sauce or to flavor chicken by poking dried cloves into an orange peel. When cooked with meats or to make a sauce, the cloves in the orange peel give it a very rich and strong flavor.
  From Quiz: The Jerk Store Called...
36 Where in the world do the capsicum type of peppers, like jalapeno originate?
Answer: The Americas

The capsicum pepper was cultivated in Mexico as early as 3000 B.C. Most hot peppers belong to the capsicum family.
  From Quiz: Pick a Pepper
37 This plant has a flavour that reminds you of aniseed. It can be used as a spice, a herb, and a vegetable. It is now cultivated in many parts of the world.
Answer: Fennel

Fennel seeds are a basic spice in Indian cooking, but they aren't considered an essential. In ancient times it was called 'marathon' because the battle of the same name was fought in a field of fennel. It is a prime ingredient in the, highly potent, drink known as absinthe.
    Your options: [ Dill ] [ Fennel ] [ Celery ] [ Fenugreek ]
  From Quiz: Spice Up Your Life
38 This herb, delicious in tomato dishes, or as an ingredient of pesto, has the Latin name Ocimum basilicum.
Answer: Basil

Basil is indigenous to the Middle East, but has been grown in the Mediterranean region for centuries.
    Your options: [ Sage ] [ Thyme ] [ Basil ] [ Chervil ]
  From Quiz: Cooking with Herbs
39 Which spice is considered the most expensive?
Answer: Saffron

Saffron is truly a "luxury" item for the spice rack. One reason is the nature of the plant which prefers very hot, full sun and does not fare well with heavy rains or mushy ground. Most beds are raised to allow proper drainage. Harvest time is critical as the herb saffron is found in the stamens of the saffron crocus. It takes nearly 100,000 threads to yield a pound and prices vary according to condition of the threads (unbroken), vibrant color, and aroma. A pound of saffron can cost between $500 to $1000 depending upon the grade.
    Your options: [ Saffron ] [ Bay leaf root ] [ Onion flakes ] [ Thyme ]
  From Quiz: Common Herbs and Spices
40 Directly after eating garlic, devout Muslims will want to avoid one specific course of action, by the words of the Prophet Muhammad. What is this?
Answer: Going to mosque

Garlic is not prohibited by the dietary laws, but the Prophet Mohammed once said "Whoever has eaten garlic should not approach our mosque".
  From Quiz: The Poor Man's Cure-all: Garlic
The rest of the questions and answers can be found in our quizzes here:
Herbs and Spices Quizzes