Whether you’re a seasoned vet or starting from scratch in the kitchen your spice game is essential to finding the perfect melding of flavours. Savoury or sweet, spices are the key in creating dynamic dishes. Here are the top spices that every kitchen should be stocked with.
Coriander serves double duty as a spice and an herb. When ground the seeds give off a lemony pungent flavour and are used most commonly in Indian cuisine. Whole coriander seeds are great for preserving and pickling different foods such as chutneys or pickled beets.
Fresh or dried ginger has many great attributes next to its sweet yet spicy taste. Throw it in a quick stir fry or add some to a cup of tea to rid of stomach cramps or motion sickness.
Bay leaves are an excellent component in a soup or a stew; when left to simmer in a pot its woodsy flavour is beautifully enhanced.
Tumeric is a native spice to Southeast India and boasts a peppery warm flavour. Its intense colour mimics that of saffron and is a great budget friendly substitute when looking to achieve the rich yellow hue in any dish.
Anise also known as star anise can be described as having a strong black licorice flavour. Anise is widely used for both savoury and sweet preparations such as cookies or rice dishes.
Most people associate nutmeg with the holidays as it is a splendid addition to a cup of eggnog. The spice is nutty and warm in flavour and especially popular in Indian cuisine. It is most commonly found in its ground form but can be also be freshly grated and added to compliment any dish.
Cloves are pungent in both flavour and aroma. Widely used in both whole and ground forms, cloves are the perfect pairing when spicing up a warm winter beverage such as a mulled apple cider.
Black pepper is one of the most versatile and commonly used spice in any kitchen. Ground black pepper is derived from grinding black peppercorns. Available in several varieties pepper can be used to create that extra bit of dimension in any dish.
A staple in most Hungarian kitchens paprika is made up of dried fruits from the chili pepper family. Its pungent red colour not only jazzes up the look of any dish (Goulash pictured) but provides a hint of heat to the ingredients it is added too.
Derived from the cassia tree cinnamon is a widely used spice in many different cultures. Doing double duty cinnamon can be sweetly sprinkled atop a warm cappuccino or layered into a savoury Moroccan stew.
Chili powder can be categorized as one of the most versatile spices in the kitchen. Chili peppers come in array of different varieties with varying heat levels so a little spice goes a long way.
Cumin seeds are derived from a plant that is native to India. When ground up the seeds produce a strong flavour that is commonly included in Indian, North African and Mexican cuisine. This spice is a perfect addition to any drab salad dressing or great when mixed with chili powder for a homemade taco seasoning to add into a chili.
A little goes a long way when dealing with the intense flavour profile of cayenne pepper. Used widely around the world cayenne pepper adds the much needed kick to any dish.
Melding the flavours of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves this spice is a great addition to several savoury dishes. It is widely used in the Caribbean culture and is sometimes referred to as Jamaican pepper. All spice can also be found in Central American and Mexican cuisines.
Oregano is commonly seen in many kitchens in its dried form and is widely used by many cultures. Dried oregano is pungent and strong in flavour and is a great addition to a Greek salad or an Italian pasta sauce.
Paula Cilia is a Toronto-based freelance writer and lover of all things food and food related!
Lynn Crawford’s Spice Blend
Lynn’s signature spice blend recipe is toasted to bring out its character, so you’ll want to make extra. Use on roasted or grilled meats, poultry and fish to add a layer of pizzazz to your protein of choice.