TL;DR While we have supplementary posts dedicated to cuisines, there are too many cuisines out there to really conquer them all. Also, sometimes the 80/20 rule enough to effectively navigate a cuisine. Understanding the basic building blocks of a cuisine can help you easily adapt recipes to your liking. Here is where we attempt that.

Challenge: how to create the elements of a cuisine using 3 ingredients (spices, herbs, etc.)

Edit: It was sometimes painful to try and limit a cuisine to only 3 so I failed in some places. 


  • Stock (chicken, beef)
  • Thyme (or Rosemary)
  • Olive Oil


  • 5 spice powder (is that cheating?)
  • Soy Sauce
  • Sesame Oil

Thai (difficult as this cuisine is based on the contrast of sour, salt, sweet, and umami)

  • Coconut
  • Basil
  • Fish Sauce
  • Other: Palm Sugar, Vinegar or Lime

Indian (difficult as this cuisine as all about the spices)

  • Cumin
  • Coriander
  • Red Chili
  • Other: Turmeric, Garam Masala, Curry Powder, Ginger

South India

  • Mustard Seeds
  • Coconut
  • Red Chili

North Italian

  • Butter
  • Garlic
  • Wine

South Italian

  • Tomatoes
  • Herbs (Basil or Oregano)
  • Olive Oil


  • Kimchi
  • Gochujang
  • Pickled/Fermented Vegetables


  • Dashi
  • Tare
  • Vinegar Rice


  • Taco Seasoning (That’s for sure cheating.)
  • Lemon
  • Cilantro


  • All Spice
  • Cloves
  • Cinnamon


  • Paprika
  • Cayenne
  • Bacon/Pork

Middle Eastern

  • Parsley
  • Lemon
  • Cumin


  • Olive Oil
  • Oregano (Basil)
  • Garlic


  • Rosemary
  • Thyme
  • Parsley


  • Olive Oil
  • Pepper
  • Garlic