When I first started eating clean, spices were the first magical thing I discovered. My taste buds were changing, and I was able to recognize differences in flavor from the spices alone. I found, and still find, it fascinating that one can travel the world through spices.
So today we’re going to travel the world together! If you want your dish to have a Middle Eastern flavor, I’ll give you the spices for that. Chinese? Indian? French? Italian? I’ve got it all. I haven’t figured out all areas of the world (Greek food, I’ll get to you soon!) but here’s a good starting place, especially if you’re new to spices.
Basil, Garlic, Onion, Oregano, Parsley, Rosemary, Sage, Thyme, Crushed Red Pepper Flakes, Fennel, Cinnamon (Southern Italy) and Marjoram (Southern Italy)
Chili powder (you can buy it, or make your own using any of the following spices), Chili peppers, Cumin, Oregano, Garlic, Cloves, Coriander, Onion, Cocoa, Cilantro, Cinnamon, Saffron
Chili Powder, Chinese Five-Spice (star anise, Szechuan peppercorns, cinnamon, cloves, fennel), Coriander, Crushed Red Pepper Flakes, Cumin, Ginger. I also like to use Toasted Sesame Seeds for garnish.
Turmeric, Chili Powder, Cinnamon, Cloves, Coriander, Curry Powder, Thyme, Nutmeg, Paprika, Allspice, Cardamom, Mint, Sage, Saffron, Garlic (especially Northern India), Ginger (Northern India), Cumin (Northern India), Cilantro (Southern India)
Allspice (considered the Jamaican pepper), Cinnamon, Bay Leaf, Cilantro, Cloves, Thyme, Parsley, Dill, Garlic, Ginger, Nutmeg, Onion, Orange
A great flavor combination: cilantro + garlic + onion
Aleppo Pepper, Cinnamon, Coriander, Cumin, Cloves, Paprika, Garlic, Ginger, Dill, Parsley, Marjoram, Mint, Nutmeg, Oregano, Thyme, Sesame Seeds, Ras el Hanout
Ras el Hanout (rahs-el-haNOOT) is a spice blend. Usually vendors all over the Middle East and North Africa will have their own version. This is the recipe I use. It’s delicious!
Bay Leaf, Basil, Coriander, Garlic, Marjoram, Oregano, Mint, Parsley, Rosemary, Sage, Thyme, Savory
Great combination: marjoram + rosemary
Moroccon/North Africa – my favorite flavor combinations!
Cumin, Paprika, Cilantro, Cinnamon, Coriander, Ginger, Saffron, Mint, Parsley
Great combinations: Moroccon: cinnamon + coriander + cumin; North Africa: cumin+garlic+mint
Coriander, Cumin, Chili pepper (West and South Africa, especially), Garlic, Onion, Cinnamon (South), Cloves (South), Ginger (South), Turmeric (South)
Chives, Thyme, Tarragon, Mustard, Parsley
Southern/Provençal: Anise, Basil, Garlic, Lavendar, Marjoram, Rosemary, Sage
Bay Leaf, Garlic, Onion, Orange, Sweet Paprika, Parsley, Thyme
Great combination: garlic + onion + paprika
Chili Powder, Cinnamon, Thai Basil, Cilantro, Coriander, Cumin, Chili Peppers, Curries, Garlic, Ginger, Lemongrass, Mint, Turmeric
Great combination: chili pepper + garlic + cilantro + coconut milk (I know, not a spice, but it’s yummy!)
So there’s my list so far! But you might be asking, “Where do I start? Buying all those spices at once is too expensive!” And I completely agree. Therefore…
My List of Most-Used Spices (and some others that are good to have)
Most-Used: Cinnamon, Cumin, Cloves, Coriander, Cilantro, Chili Powder (you can make your own to save money), Garlic, Ginger, Onion, Parsley, Thyme
Good-To-Have: Basil (especially if you make a lot of Italian food), Cardamom (not used by itself often, but used in a lot of spice mixes), Chinese Five-Spice (for Chinese food), Cocoa Powder (Mexican), Marjoram, Oregano, Rosemary, Paprika, Mint, Turmeric
Well Fed and Well Fed 2 by Melissa Joulwan are two of my all-time favorite cookbooks. I’ll write a full review in a different post someday, but among all the things I love about these books, the thing I love most is the way she teaches the reader to create different ethnic meals through the use of simple base ingredients and a change of spice mixtures. The spice mixes pictured above are from Well Fed 2. The tall jar is Magic Dust, and it’s more than just a spice mix…I use it like a condiment. I also have a few favorite Penzeys spice blends that I’ll share in another post.
Question Time! What’s your favorite, go-to spice or spice mix? Answer in the comments!
Well Fed + Well Fed 2
The Flavor Bible by Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg