Published By: Jayati

What's Umami? Here are 5 ingredients packed with Umami flavor!

Umami has been gaining popularity since the 1980s, as research into the fifth basic taste started to ramp up.

Umami is the Japanese term for that oh-so-delicious, savoury goodness! It's like the secret ingredient that makes your taste buds dance. That rich, mouthwatering flavour you get from foods packed with glutamate? Yep, that's Umami at work! And while some people might worry about MSG, the FDA says it's all good, with only a tiny percentage of people experiencing minor side effects. Umami isn't just a stand-alone taste; it's more like a taste enhancer, adding depth and complexity when mixed with other flavors. So, next time you're cooking, keep an eye out for these umami-packed ingredients—they'll take your dishes to the next level!

Soy Sauce

Made by fermenting soybeans with wheat and salt, soy sauce brings a rich flavour and salty touch to fried rice. But it's not just for Asian dishes! Try drizzling it over avocado slices instead of lime and salt, stirring it into cocktail sauce for a tasty dip with tofu, or mixing it with spaghetti and butter for a quick late-night snack. And if you're watching your salt intake, there are low-sodium options that are just as tasty!

Sun-dried tomatoes  

The vibrant flavour of ripe tomatoes gets even richer when they're halved and dried. Opt for loose-packed, sun-dried tomatoes instead of oil-packed ones for the best taste. Beyond adding them to pasta or frittatas, blend them with goat cheese for a tasty breakfast spread, or mix them into corn muffins or sandwiches for an extra burst of flavour!


This rich, pungent paste is like a flavour bomb from Asia. Miso is made by fermenting steamed soybeans with rice, barley, or rye. White miso—the most common type—adds nutty undertones to dishes. You can mix it into creamy carrot soup for extra depth or stir it into yoghurt as a tasty topping for burgers or roasted veggies. Just remember, a little miso packs a big punch, so use it sparingly and add it near the end of cooking to preserve its flavour.


As Parmesan cheese ages, it develops a warm, sometimes fruity flavour, especially in the renowned Parmigiano-Reggiano variety, aged for a minimum of two years. Even young domestic Parmesan adds an earthy dimension to many dishes beyond pasta. Grate it over steamed green beans, shave it over prosciutto and melon, or sprinkle it on buttered popcorn for a savoury kick. Get as creative as Parmesan—there's no limit to its delicious possibilities!

Dried shiitake mushrooms 

These versatile mushrooms, easily stored in dried form, bring a subtle smokiness and hearty texture to dishes. Simply soak them in boiling water for 30 minutes to unleash their flavour and create a fragrant broth. Sauté them with leeks and peas to top soft polenta, or use the broth to enrich mushroom-barley soup. For a savoury brunch, mix rehydrated shiitakes with bread cubes, cream, and grated fontina for a desi-style bread upma! You can find shiitake mushrooms in the international aisle of major supermarkets and Asian markets.

Umami isn't just about making food tasty—it's also got some serious health benefits! Too much salt, especially table salt, can lead to heart issues. But here's where Umami, with its magic MSG, swoops in. MSG, found in umami-packed seasonings like AJI-NO-MOTO, lets us dial down the salt without sacrificing flavor. It's like having your cake and eating it too, but in a healthier way! So, why not hop on the Umami bandwagon?