Study a culture's prevalent seasonings to add ethnic flavor to your cooking.
Credit: Becky Luigart-Stayner

The first step in learning to cook any ethnic cuisine is to become familiar with that culture's seasonings. Different cuisines tend to incorporate many of the same herbs and spices, so once you've learned the most prevalent combinations, you can add a little international flavor to your cooking.

Some spices have a home in many cultures. Oregano, for instance, is common to both Mexican and Italian food. But because it is combined with different ingredients and spices in each cuisine, the herb lends a distinctly different flavor profile to each. Read on to discover more.

Chinese Cuisine
Aniseed, Bean Paste, Chile Oil, Garlic, Gingerroot, Green Onions, Hot Red Peppers, Sesame Oil, Sesame Seeds, Soy Sauce, Star Anise

Mexican Cuisine
Bell Peppers, Chiles, Cilantro, Cinnamon, Cocoa, Coriander Seeds, Cumin Seeds, Garlic, Lime, Onions, Oregano, Vanilla

German Cuisine
Allspice, Caraway Seeds, Cinnamon, Dill Seeds, Dillweed, Dry Mustard Powder, Ginger, Juniper Berries, Mustard Seeds, Nutmeg, Onions, Paprika, White Pepper

Spanish Cuisine
Almonds, Bell Peppers, Cumin Seeds, Garlic, Olives, Onions, Paprika, Parsley, Saffron

Italian Cuisine
Anchovies, Basil, Bay Leaves, Fennel Seeds, Garlic, Marjoram, Onions, Oregano, Parsley, Pine Nuts, Red Pepper, Rosemary

Indian Cuisine
Aniseed, Black Pepper, Cardamom Seeds, Chiles, Cilantro, Cinnamon, Cloves, Coriander Seeds, Cumin Seeds, Curry Powder, Fenugreek (an aromatic Eurasian plant used in curry powder and other spice blends), Garlic, Gingerroot, Mace, Mint, Mustard Seeds, Nutmeg, Red Pepper, Saffron, Sesame Seeds, Turmeric, Yogurt

French Cuisine
Bay Leaves, Black Pepper, Chervil, Chives, Fines Herbes, Garlic, Green and Pink Peppercorns, Marjoram, Nutmeg, Onions, Parsley, Rosemary, Shallots, Tarragon, Thyme

Greek Cuisine
Cinnamon, Dillweed, Garlic, Lemon, Mint, Nutmeg, Olives, Oregano

Caribbean Cuisine
Allspice,Cinnamon, Cloves, Coriander, Curry, Garlic, Gingerroot, Lime, Nutmeg, Onions, Oregano, Red Pepper, Scotch bonnet peppers and hot sauce, Thyme

Scandinavian Cuisine
Cardamom Seeds, Dill Seeds, Dill Weed, Lemon, Mustard Seeds, Nutmeg, White Pepper

North African Cuisine
Cilantro, Cinnamon, Coriander Seeds, Cumin Seeds, Garlic, Gingerroot, Mint, Red Pepper, Saffron, Turmeric