pak choi – (Cantonese: ‘white vegetable’) member of the cabbage family with chunky, crispy stalks. Normally used cooked in Oriental dishes. Known as ‘bok choy’ in North America.
paella – (Spanish) Valencian rice dish with seafood and meat
pakora – deep-dried vegetable fritter which originated in India
paleo diet – The Paleolithic diet, often abbreviated to the paleo diet, is based mainly on foods presumed to have been available to humans in Paleolithic times. It’s also sometimes called the caveman diet or stone-age diet.
panada or panade – term for the paste of choux pastry before the eggs are added
panada or panado – a type of bread soup
pancetta – Italian cured pork belly (like streaky bacon)
paneer – cheese made from fresh milk curds used in Indian cookery
paner – (French) to coat with egg and breadcrumbs before frying
panettone – a type of sweet Italian bread, often associated with Christmas
panini – (Italian) a toasted sandwich made from small loaves of ciabatta
panna cotta – (Italian: ‘cooked cream’) dessert of sweetened cream thickened with gelatin and cooked in a mould
papaya – large orange-fleshed fruit with a flavour similar to a peach
papillote, en – (French: ‘in parchment’) cooking technique in which food is baked inside a sealed wrapping of greaseproof paper or tin foil.
pappardelle – (Italian: pappare, ‘to gobble’) large, broad, flat egg noodles
paprika – a spice made from air-dried fruits of the chilli pepper family
parboil – partially cook in boiling liquid
parfait – (French: ‘perfect’) enriched ice-cream made from a sugar, egg yolk and double cream base
Parmesan – hard Italian cheese made from cow’s milk
parsley – widely used culinary herb. The curly variety is used in traditional British cooking, whilst the flat-leaved is common in Mediterranean and other cuisines.
parsnip – a member of the carrot family with cream-coloured, sweet white flesh
partridge – medium-sized game bird
passata – (Italian: ‘strained’) sieved or strained puréed tomatoes
pasta primavera – (Italian: ‘spring pasta’) an Italian dish of pasta, sauce and vegetables; some cooks also add fish, eg salmon. Primavera can also be made with risotto instead of pasta.
pastilla or bastilla – (Spanish: ‘little pastry’) traditional Moroccan pie
pastry – a container or cover for other foods. Basic pastries are made from a dough of flour, fat and liquid, which is then shaped and baked.
pâtisserie – a type of French or Belgian bakery that specializes in pastries and sweets. It’s also a term for these types of food.
paupiette – (French: from Italian polpetta, ‘rissole’) thin slice of meat or fish wrapping a savoury stuffing
pavé – (French: ‘slab’) square sponge cake layered with butter-cream, mousse or pâté prepared in a square mould
pavlova – meringue dessert topped with whipped cream and fruit, named after Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova
peach – sweet, juicy fruit with a velvety skin
pear – fruit related to the apple but with a slightly granular texture
peas – small green legumes which grow inside pods
pecan – nut related to the walnut, native to America
pecorino – (Italian: pecora, ‘ewe’) hard Italian ewe’s milk cheese
peel – to remove the skin from vegetables and fruits using a knife or a peeler
peel – a long-handled flat paddle used to place bread and pizza in the oven
peperonata – (Italian: peperon, ‘chilli’) Southern Italian stew made from peppers and vegetables
pepper – (also known as ‘bell pepper’, ‘capsicum’) large, sweet, mild fruit related to chillies
persillade – (French: persil, ‘parsley’) seasoning mixture of parsley chopped together with garlic, herbs, oil, and vinegar
pesto – (Italian: pestare, ‘pound’) Italian name for any sauce made by pounding ingredients together. (See also pesto Genovese)
pesto Genovese – usually shortened in the UK to just pesto. Consists of basil, pine nuts, garlic and olive oil pounded together and finished with finely grated Parmesan and pecorino cheeses.
petits fours – bite sized items of pâtisserie, served with coffee after a meal
piatto – (Italian) plate or dish
piccata – (Italian) escalope
pieds de mouton – (French) sheep’s trotters; also a type of wild mushroom
pilaf – Turkish dish of long grain-rice simmered in a seasoned broth. Known in South Asia as ‘pulao’.
pilchard – a large sardine
pimento or pimiento – large, sweet red chilli pepper
pimentón – Spanish paprika
pinch – very small quantity of a dry, powdered ingredient lifted between forefinger and thumb and added directly into the food being prepared
pineapple – large, sweet tropical fruit with yellow flesh
Pinot Gris – white grape variety used to make wine in the Alsace style. Pino Grigio is the same grape variety but the wine is made in the Italian style.
Pinot Noir – red grape variety used for making wine
Pinotage – South African red grape variety used for making wine
pipe – a decorative technique achieved by putting a soft mixture into a piping bag and squeezing it through the bag’s nozzle to create interesting shapes for presentation purposes eg mashed potatoes on a pie or butter cream on a cake
piri-piri – the Portuguese term for African bird’s-eye chilli.
pirozhki – (Russian: pirozhok, ‘pie’) small savoury pastries, with a variety of fillings, baked or fried
pissaladière – (French) a dish which originated from Nice in Southern France, similar to an Italian pizza.
pistou – a Provençal cold sauce made from cloves of garlic, fresh basil, and olive oil. Like the Italian pesto without the pine nuts.
pit – to remove the stone or seed from a fruit or vegetable
pith – bitter, white layer underneath the outer layer of a citrus fruit
plancha, à la – (Spanish) grilled on a metal plate
pluck – the heart, liver and lungs of an animal used as food, eg for haggis
poach – to cook by submerging in a liquid, eg water, stock, milk or wine
polenta – Italian staple made from maize flour
pomegranate – round red hard-skinned fruit containing lots of edible little white seeds which are held in ruby-coloured sacs filled with sweet, juicy flesh. Sometimes hailed as a superfood.
pork – meat of the pig
potato – widely used tuber which comes in a large number of varieties
pot-au-feu – (French: ‘pot on fire’) classic French dish of meat and vegetables cooked in stock
poussin – (French) young chicken, less than 28 days old at time of slaughter
praline – almonds caramelised in sugar, crushed and added to confections
prawn – edible crustacean (shrimps are small prawns)
prosciutto – Italian, seasoned air-dried ham; often eaten raw but can also be used as a wrapping for cooked foods, eg scallops.
Prosecco – Italian white sparkling wine, like Champagne but cheaper because of bulk production methods
prove – the final rising of a bread dough before it’s baked
provençal – (French) sauce of tomatoes, onions and garlic sautéed in olive oil
pumpkin – winter squash with hard yellow or orange skin and soft, fibrous orange flesh
punt – also known as ‘kick-up’, refers to the dimple in the bottom of a wine bottle
puttanesca – (Italian: ‘whore’s style’) pasta sauce with tomatoes, olive oil, anchovies, olives, capers and garlic