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Ladies' fingers

An alternative name (because of its appearance) for okra, an ingredient that is widely used in Indian, Caribbean and southern US cookery where it is an essential ingredient of gumbo. A long green pod, full of seeds, the okra exudes a sticky juice in cooki

Langouste

Crawfish.

Langoustine

Another name for the Dublin Bay prawn, also known as Norway lobster and scampi, available fresh or frozen, in and out of their shells. Cook by boiling or grilling, if fresh.

Langue de chat

Flat, finger-shaped crisp biscuit served with cold desserts.

Lapsi

Lapsi is a roundish wild fruit with a thick skin and sour pulp. It is used in vegetables, and dals to add a sour flavour. A sweet-sour candy is also prepared from lapsi.

Lard

Natural or refined pork fat.

Larding

The process whereby thin strips of speck, or other fat are inserted into lean meat to make it more succulent and to add flavour. The fat is inserted with the grain of the meat, usually with a larding needle.

Lardons

Lardons are small, chunky strips of fat bacon or pork fat (smoked or unsmoked) used to flavour dishes such as quiches or salads or they can be sweated with onions as a base for soup.

Lasagne

Italian pasta cut into wide flat ribbons. The dish called lasagne is usually prepared with alternate layers of bolognese sauce, pasta and b©chamel sauce, topped with grated parmesan cheese and baked in the oven until browned.

Lassi

A traditional Indian drink that used to be made from buttermilk poured into earthenware crocks, with salt added to combat dehydration in the hot climate. It is now made from thin yogurt, with salt or sugar. To make your own, dilute plain yogurt, with wate

Leaven

Substance, such as yeast, which causes dough or batter to rise.

Lemon

Very sharp, acidic citrus fruit rich in vitamin C but with a low sugar content. Used mainly for its juice to flavour drinks, sweet and savoury dishes and as an accompaniment to fish. The aromatic zest or outer rind contains essential oils and is also used

Lemon balm

As its name suggests, this leafy, green herb has a lemon flavour and fragrance, lending itself well to fish, poultry and vegetables as well as salads, stuffings and drinks.

Lemon grass

A main ingredient in Thai and south-east Asian cuisines, lemon grass is a root that can be used fresh, dried or powdered to impart its lemon flavour to sweet or savoury dishes.

Lemon sole

Lemon sole is in fact a flounder. Flounders can be bought as fillets or whole and cooked by grilling, frying or serving with a sauce.

Lime

This small, green citrus fruit is used mainly for its juice, added to cooked dishes (especially in Asian cuisine) and to drinks.

Lime leaves

The leaves of a wild lime tree which appear as double leaves joined tip to end and have a spicy, lemon flavour; the leaves give a distinctive citrus scent to soups and curries of Thai and Indonesian cooking

Lingonberry

Lingonberries are a dark red soft fruit, traditionally used in Swedish cooking.

Linguine

A flattened spaghetti-like pasta.

Lobster

A sea crustacean related to the crayfish, crawfish and crab and found in cold seas. It is the largest, most sought-after shellfish and is usually sold whole. Lobster is best cooked simply by boiling, steaming or grilling.

Loganberry

A cross between the blackberry and raspberry. It has a less subtle flavour than the raspberry and can be quite tart, so needs plenty of sugar when used in desserts.

Loin

Cut of either pork or lamb which is taken from the back. Sold as a roasting joint, with or without bones, as well as chops and steaks which are good for grilling and barbecues.

Lovage

Also known as sea parsley, the leaves and stem of the lovage plant add an intense celery flavour to soups, stews and stocks or pork and poultry dishes, as well as enhancing any potato dishes

Luncheon meat

Prepared from an emulsion of pork cubes and sometimes seasoned according to trade name, e.g. peppercorns, red or green pepper. It is usually rectangular in shape and is cut into thin slices for salads and sandwiches.

Lychee

A fruit that originated in China and which is now grown in the Far East and the West Indies. It is about the size of a small plum and has a thin, hard rough shell that is easily removed. The white, juicy flesh surrounds a large dark-brown stone. In Europe

Lyonnaise (  la)

€ la lyonnaise describes various dishes, usually saut©ed, characterised by the use of chopped onions, cooked in butter until golden and often finished off with vinegar and sprinkled with chopped parsley. Lyonnaise sauce is a classic French sauce made wi

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