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Culinary Terms and What they mean!

Culinary Terms and What they mean!

Last week I talked about kitchen terms we use daily and what they mean; this week, I thought I’ll go a bit further and share some culinary terms and what they mean. Many of these are taken from the French language and are commonly used in professional kitchens. For us chefs, we use them normally, even at home, which sometimes might require an explanation to our friends and family who might not be aware of these terminologies. Here are some culinary terms and what they mean…….


It’s a French term that means a vegetable base consisting of carrots, onions, and celery. It is a flavour base for many stews, stocks, or soups. The vegetables are usually finely diced and lightly cooked as a base of a dish in butter or oil to release all flavours and aromas from the vegetables and provides the dish with the extra flavour it needs.


Pronounced as ‘roo’ and is a combination of flour and butter (fat) used to thicken sauces and is a common base for many sauces. This is used to make a béchamel, veloute, and many others, with the quantities being equal parts of fat to flour. This base needs to be cooked well, as if undercooked, can give you a floury taste in the end result.

Maillard Effect

This term can also be termed as a chemical reaction of reducing fats and sugar by the impact of heat giving the foods that caramelised or brown effect and making it more flavourful. It could be associated with the searing of steaks, caramels, bread, and many more.


Tempering has two meanings in the culinary world, and both are very different from each other:

  1. Tempering is a cooking method where the food is heated, brought to a temperature, and then cooled down in a controlled environment to achieve the desired product. Its mainly associated with chocolate as chocolate is heated up and cooled down, resulting in tempering; providing it with a nice shine, gives it a nice brittle snap, and prevents the chocolate from blooming.

2. The other meaning of tempering is mainly used in India and other South-Asian countries, where whole spices are roasted in ghee or oil to extract the flavours from the spices while enhancing the flavour at the same time. Used as a garnish of a dish, providing it with extra flavour and aroma when served.


Flambé is a process of adding high-proof liquor like wine, brandy or any other and to a hot pan creating a burst of flames with burning down the raw alcohol flavour and leaving a sweet and subtle taste behind. It’s the best way of burning the alcohol down in the dish and might look cool to look at, but I won’t advise anyone to try it at home as it could be dangerous. These activities are done in a trained and controlled environment and at home can cause your fire alarm to go off, but in the professional kitchen is a prevalent term and a common technique used.

These are some of the culinary terms I can think of, and hopefully, if you weren’t aware of what they meant, this blog will help and give you a bit more insights into the culinary world.

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