Herbs, spices…What’s the difference?

Recipes would be pretty bland without the addition of herbs and spices.

Here’s how can you tell one from the other:

Herbs are the flowers, leaves or stems of aromatic plants. They can be purchased fresh or dried. Dried herbs are stronger than the fresh variety because their flavorful oils become more concentrated. To get the most out of dried herbs, lightly crush or grind them before adding them to the recipe.

Spices are the bark, berries, buds, roots or seeds of plants. They are generally used dried, and can be purchased either whole or ground. Whole spices can be added early in the recipe preparation, allowing their flavors to permeate the food. Ground spices should be added later during cooking.

Armenian cuisine uses some common herbs and spices, but can also pack a punch with some unique ones as well. From time to time, we’ll highlight a specific herb or spice, with its background information, plus a recipe or two for you to try.

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  1. Anonymous April 5, 2009 at 1:46 am

    Basil is my favorite, too.

  2. CelticHye April 4, 2012 at 5:27 pm

    Hello: This is a question regarding an Armenian spice. My grandmother called it "hren" phonetically with a guttural ghr sound. I believe it is a type of basil or marjoram. Can you clarify this for me and also let me know if there are seeds for this?

    1. Robyn April 4, 2012 at 8:27 pm

      Hi CelticHye,
      I'll do some research to see what I can find. Do you mind if I post this, just in case? Thanks!

    2. Anonymous April 27, 2013 at 10:13 pm

      If I get what you mean, CelticHye, it's horseradish (in a powdered form, I guess). "Hren" is in Russian. In Armenian it's ծովաբողկ (tsovabokhq / dzovapokhq).

  3. Drbumble September 22, 2012 at 4:44 pm

    Sept. 22,2012. DrBumble here….Hello,I just found this site. Last name is Kooshian and I am just learning how to cook Armenian food. Both my parents are deceased but I watched closely as they toiled on the holidays to make a loving Armenian dinner for us. I have just perfected Gezbone which is a cheese bread made with a black seed. My dad called it black seed as he removed it from the spice rack. It is a wonderful favored spice. Do you know what it is called. In my search to find it I stumbled upon black carraway. Do you believe it to be the same.
    Thank you for the many recipes here. My aunt Mary Jane is a wonderful cook and I will share this site with her….she by the way is a wonderful cook and a wealth of knowledge. I would love to be able to surprise her with something she had as a child but has not had since. I think you have given me the information to do that. Thanks so much.

    1. Anonymous November 26, 2014 at 2:36 pm

      I think what you're referring to is called NIGELLA SEEDS. I use iit in my Choreg too.
      Good luck, Keep cooking

    2. Anonymous December 29, 2014 at 8:09 pm

      I have a friend – last name Kooshian – and she makes the best Gezbone. Trouble is she's moved away and I haven't been able to find a recipe. Does anyone have one?

  4. f2mel2 April 30, 2013 at 2:22 am

    I'm looking for the botanical English name or Latin name for "sibekh". Let me know please.

    1. Robyn May 1, 2013 at 2:22 pm

      I contacted my resource person in Armenia, Sonia Tashjian, for help with your request. I hope her response will be useful:
      I have searched it in different dictionaries, there were three suggestions:
      1- scorzonera humilis
      2- falcaria rivini
      3- black salsify
      (You can use this link for Armenian online dictionaries http://nayiri.com/)
      I do not know its real name in Latin, but when I was looking at the pictures, it seems that it is the third one. It's a kind of wild herb, which you can buy from the markets (bazaar, not the shops). It's very delicious & the most expensive herb, but I don't know why.

  5. Anonymous November 19, 2013 at 8:14 pm

    Is Marash pepper or maras pepper used in Armenian cuisine and if so where can it be bought in London. Someone I know bought some in an Armenian store in the US.

  6. Unknown July 27, 2020 at 2:52 am

    When a recipe for Dolma calls for Citron or Kitron, is it lemon? Someone said it’s a savoury her – Rosemary.
    Thank you in advance.

    1. Robyn Kalajian July 29, 2020 at 11:56 pm

      Definitely use lemon in dolma.


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