Common spices used in food include cardamom, anise, chili powder and allspice. Although many spices work well on their own, some, such as chili and curry powders, are actually a combination of several spices.
Allspice is a berry found on an evergreen tree in Central America and the West Indies. It has a flavor that hints at nutmeg, cloves and cinnamon, and it's used in both savory dishes and desserts.
Cardomom comes from a plant native to India. It is usually found whole and ground and is typically used in dishes like curry. It can be used instead of allspice in a variety of different recipes.
Anise has the flavor of licorice and works well in dishes such as cookies, cakes and salads. Anise is sometimes used in Indian dishes such as braised meats and pilafs.
Chili powder is a combination of spices and comes in mild or spicy varieties. It is usually a mixture of chili pepper, cumin, garlic and oregano, although its contents may vary.
Curry powder is a combination of spices such as cumin, turmeric, coriander, cayenne pepper and cloves. Curry spice blends vary and are used in recipes such as soups and stews.
Other commonly used spices include, cinnamon, coriander, clove, fenugreek and five-spice powder.