The Ultimate Spice Quiz

Kennita Leon

Image: Víctor Augusto Mendivil / Moment / Getty Images

About This Quiz

Spices are foods that we use to add flavor or seasoning to other foods, but do you know what they actually are? Spices can be fruits, seeds, the bark of a tree or its root, and are used to preserve or flavor food and a whole lot more. They differ from herbs in that they aren't leaves, stems or flowers, although sometimes the lines are blurred. Spices can cure some infectious diseases, and they are used in cosmetics and even perfumes. But while that's all well and good, could you identify them if we showed you what they looked like?

Well, that's exactly what we're going to do today, plus something else. We're also going to give you a clue as to what the spice could be in the questions that we're going to ask you. It's totally up to you to choose the correct spice that we're talking about. If you can answer enough questions correctly, we'll label you not only a plant master but also a world-class cook!

If you think you'll be able to identify all the spices we've prepared for you today, go ahead and get started on this fun and spicy quiz. 

What is the name of this item, which also goes by the name Chinese parsley, that is both a spice and an herb?

Coriander, also called Chinese parsley or cilantro, is an edible spice and herb whose fresh leaves and dried seeds are the most commonly used parts. It is an annual plant that grows up to 20 inches tall and is indigenous to southern Europe, northern Africa and southwestern Asia.

This spice has a similar flavor to licorice and is used in food as well as alcoholic drinks. What is it?

Anise, known as aniseed, is a flowering plant with a similar flavoring as the star anise, licorice and fennel. This spice is grown worldwide and is commonly used in food, alcoholic drinks, and as a carminative in herbal medicine.

A perennial plant that hails from the carrot family, do you know what this spice is called?

Fennel is a hardy, perennial herb of the carrot family that is identified by its yellow flowers and feathery leaves. This spice is one of the primary ingredients of absinthe and is commonly used in cookery due to its aromatic and flavorful qualities.

Which spice is the third-most expensive in the world?

Cardamom is the third-most-expensive spice in the world, after vanilla and saffron. It is composed of the seed of many plants of the Amomum and Eletarria genera, both of which are native to Indonesia and the Indian sub-continent.

This spice is made from the red covering of nutmeg. Do you know its name?

Mace is a type of spice with a similar but more delicate flavoring to that of nutmeg. It is derived from the reddish seed covering of the nutmeg seed and is used in the preserving, pickling and seasoning of fish, meat, vegetables and baked goods.

A member of the parsley family and an annual herbaceous plant, do you know which spice this is?

Cumin is an annual herbaceous plant whose seeds (ground or whole), are used as a flavoring in the cuisines of many cultures. It is a member of the parsley family and is recognized by its grey or dark green stem, small, white or pink flowers, and long, thread-like leaflets.

This spice comes from the genus Myristica and has a very pleasant smell. Do you know what it is?

Nutmeg is the common name for the seed or ground spice produced by many species of the genus Myristica. This species is widely cultivated and is a source of nutmeg butter and essential oil.

Its root stalks are used commonly in Asian cuisine. What is the name of this fleshy spice?

Ginger is a herbaceous flowering plant that is widely cultivated for its root stalks. The ginger root is commonly used as a spice and folk medicine in many cuisines around the world. This fragrant plant is grown worldwide in tropical and subtropical regions such as Malaysia, Japan and Hawaii.

The word "pepper" often follows this spice. Do you know what it is?

Cayenne pepper is a small-fruited pepper that is believed to have originated in Cayenne, French Guiana. A member of the nightshade family, it is commonly produced as a spice by drying the pepper, then grinding it into a powdery form.

Used commonly in festive drinks and desserts, what is the name of the spice pictured here?

Cinnamon is the common name of several species of the genus Cinnamomum, from which the spice is derived. It is obtained from the bark of the trees and may be used whole or dried and ground into a powder or to produce essential oil.

This spice is made from ground and dried bell peppers. What is it called?

Paprika is a ground spice obtained from dried bell peppers sometimes with the inclusion of chili peppers and cayenne peppers. Originating in Mexico, this spice ranges from mild to hot and is used to add color to a variety of dishes.

Also called myrtle pepper or pimenta, do you know the more common name of this particular spice?

Allspice known as myrtle pepper, pimenta or Jamaica pimenta, is a spice made from the dried, unripe fruit of the Pimenta dioica tree. It is commonly utilized in Caribbean cuisine, particularly in Jamaican jerk seasoning, moles and pickling.

Made from the crimson stigmas of a flower, what is the name of this spice, which is one of the most expensive in the world?

Saffron is a spice made from the crimson stigmas and styles of the saffron crocus flower. Once dried, the spice is then used as a flavoring in many dishes. It is also utilized as a coloring in food and textiles, due to its rich golden-yellow hue.

This is a spicy pepper derived from plants of the Capsicum genus. Which spice is being talked about?

Chili is a brightly colored, spicy pepper derived from the plants of the genus Capsicum. A variety of species are grown in the Americas and Europe, with Peru being the country with the highest cultivated Capsicum diversity.

Coming from the Fabaceae family and known for its unique scent, can you tell us the name of this spice?

Fenugreek is an annual plant of the Fabaceae family with a distinctive sharp aroma. It is primarily grown for its seeds and leaves, which are commonly used as a spice in South and Central Asian cuisines.

Which of these spices is obtained from the Brassica nigra plant?

The black mustard seed is obtained from the annual plant Brassica nigra or black mustard. This upright plant, with large, stalked leaves is indigenous to the temperate regions of Europe, the tropical regions of North Africa and parts of Asia.

The powder of a root vegetable is what this spice is. Can you tell us its name?

Horseradish powder is a ground form of horseradish, a root vegetable native to western Asia and southeastern Europe. Growing up to 4.9 feet tall, this plant is widely cultivated for its white vegetable, which is commonly used as a spice and a condiment.

Coming from a flowering plant of the ginger family, do you know the name of this spice whose roots are commonly used in cooking?

Turmeric is a herbaceous, flowering plant of the ginger family cultivated worldwide primarily for its roots which are used in cooking. In addition to being a flavoring agent, turmeric is also used as for coloring and dying due to its deep orange-yellow tone.

Which of the following spices is probably the most well-known Indian spice in the world and is used for adding color and flavor?

Curry is a spice that is actually a combination of many other spices. It includes, but isn't limited to, coriander, ginger, chili, and turmeric. It is one of the most popular in Indian and Caribbean cuisine.

The pure starch of the plant this spice hails from is white and gives a strange smell when added to boiling water. What is it?

Arrowroot powder is a ground form of the arrowroot; a starch obtained from the rootstock of many tropical plants. Pure arrowroot starch is a white, light powder that emits a strange odor when mixed with boiling water.

The flavor of this spice is obtained from the pods of the plant's seeds. What is the name of this spice that is a favorite when it comes to desserts?

Vanilla is a flavoring obtained from the seed pods and dried fruits of the orchid genus, Vanilla. It is the second-most expensive spice after saffron and is used primarily in cooking, aromatherapy and perfume manufacturing.

The seeds of this plant are ground or left whole in order to form the spice. What is its name?

Celery seeds, which are actually tiny fruits, are obtained from celery, a marshland plant with long, fibrous stalks and tapering leaves. The seeds are used whole or ground and as a flavoring or spice. They are also used to make an essential oil used in the perfume industry.

Also known as Wuxiang powder, can you tell us which spice is a combination of at least five others?

Chinese five spice, known as Wuxiang powder or five-spice powder, is a mixture of five or more spices, mainly star anise, cloves, fennel seeds, Chinese cinnamon, and Sichuan pepper. It is primarily utilized in Tawainese and Chinese cuisine, and occasionally in cocktails.

The flavor of this spice is obtained from the buds of the Syzygium aromaticum tree. Can you tell us which spice this is?

Cloves, native to the Maluku Islands of Indonesia, are the aromatic flowering buds of the Syzygium aromaticum tree. They are commonly harvested as a spice and grown in many countries including Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh, India, Madagascar, and Tanzania.

This spice has a similar flavor to cherry and bitter almond. Which of the following is it?

The Mahleb spice is a type of spice obtained from the seeds of the St. Lucie or Mahleb cherry with a flavoring similar to bitter almond and cherry. It is used to produce cheese and in small amounts to sharpen cakes and sweet foods.

A dried ground pepper, what is the name of this spice that is indigenous to the southwestern region of India?

Peppercorn is a dried ground pepper derived from the flowering vine Piper nigrum. Indigenous to Kerala, southwestern India, peppercorn is one of the world's most traded spice, and it has been used since antiquity as both a seasoning and folk medicine.

What is the name of this spice that is obtained from the Brassica juncea?

The brown mustard seed, also called Chinese mustard or Indian mustard, is a spice obtained from the Brassica juncea, a species of mustard plant. This spice is more frequently utilized in Indian and African cuisines than its yellow counterpart due to its hot and pungent flavor.

This spice has a similar flavor to anise and comes from a biennial plant. Can you tell us what it is?

The caraway seed is derived from the fruit of the biennial plant and is known for its pungent and anise-like flavor. This seasoning is commonly used in many liquors, casseroles, and desserts such as the caraway seed cake.

This edible seed has a nutty flavor and comes in a variety of colors. Do you know what is it?

Sesame seeds are edible seeds derived from a flowering plant of the genus Sesamum. It is known for its rich, nutty flavor, and has one of the highest oil contents of any seed. It comes in a variety of colors which depends on the cultivar including off-white, tan, gold, buff, gray and black.

Obtained from the taproot plant, what is the name of this spice that is also called "stinking gum"?

Asafoetida is the dried latex obtained from the taproot of the perennial herb, Ferula of the celery family. It is commonly referred to as "stinking gum," due to its pungent smell. Despite this, it is frequently cooked in many dishes, delivering a smooth flavor.

This spice is an annual herb and is used heavily in Eurasian cuisine. Can you tell what its name is?

Dill is an annual herb whose leaves and seeds are commonly used as a flavoring for seasoning food. It is widely grown in Eurasia, specifically in Russian, Polish, Finnish, Ukranian, Scandinavian and Baltic cuisines.

A collective name for a group of rhizomatous spices, can you tell us which Asian flavoring is closely related to ginger?

Galangal is the collective name for a variety of rhizomatous spices that are frequently used in traditional Asian cuisines, including Indonesian and Vietnamese. All species of galangal are closely related to ginger and all exhibit a similar hot and spicy flavor.

There are five spices that are known as true members of this flavoring's family and they all come from the Boswellia genus. Do you know which is it?

Frankincense is an aromatic resin derived from the trees of the genus Boswellia, five species of which produce true frankincense. This resin is a common ingredient used in many perfumes, incenses, aromatherapy and skincare.

Obtained from the follicles of a particular plant, can you tell us which spice this is that also goes by the name kalonji?

Nigella seeds are a type of spice obtained from three to seven follicles found within the large and inflated capsule (fruit) Nigella sativa plant. It is known by many names including black seed, black cumin, black caraway, nutmeg flower, fennel flower, kalonji and Roman coriander.

This spice is the common name for over 30 species of the Rhus genus. What is it?

Sumac is the common name for 35 species of the genus Rhus. It is primarily grown for its fruit that is used as a spice in its dry and powdered form. This plant is widely cultivated in subtropical and temperate regions specifically North America, East Asia and Africa.

What is the name of this herb that is also called bishop's weed and carom?

Ajwain is a flowering herb of the celery family and is known by many names including carom, bishop's weed, and ajowan caraway. Its leaves and seed-like fruit are frequently used in cooking as well as in traditional medicine to treat stomach issues such as diarrhea, flatulence and bloating.

This spice is the root of a perennial plant which goes by the name Glycyrrhiza glabra and is used commonly in candies. What is its name?

Licorice is the root of the Glycyrrhiza glabra, a herbaceous perennial legume whose sweet flavoring is commonly used in candies or sweeteners. It is native to southern Europe and parts of Asia and is also frequently used in traditional medicine and herbalism.

What is the name of this spice which is a female seed and is commonly used in northern European cuisine?

Juniper berries are the female seed cone produced by a number of species of juniper. They are particularly used in northern European and Scandinavian meat, pork, sauerkraut and cabbage, dishes to add a sharp, clean flavor to the meal.

Also known as Chinese cinnamon, do you know the more common name of this spice that is one of the 50 fundamental herbs of Chinese medicine?

Cassia, also called Chinese cinnamon and Chinese cassia, is a type of cinnamon tree whose aromatic bark is utilized as a spice in cooking. It is an essential ingredient in traditional Chinese medicine, where it is considered as one of the 50 fundamental herbs.

Derived from the achiote tree, can you tell us the name of this tropical spice which is grown in Mexico and Brazil?

Annatto, native to the tropical regions of Brazil and Mexico, is a type of spice derived from the achiote tree. It is commonly used as a coloring and condiment due to its orange-red color and slightly nutty, sweet and peppery flavor and aroma.

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