The Ultimate Guide to Spices

For hundreds of years, people have been adding spices to their food to uplift its taste and make every meal a thousand times better. Can you think of a single dish that will satisfy your taste buds even without spices? Most probably, your answer will be no.

Here is a list of some essential kitchen spices and the purposes they serve.

1) Chili Power

The image of tossing some chili powder into your favorite recipe is perhaps the first thing that comes to mind when you hear of spices.

Chili Powder

Chili Powder

Chili powder is often bright red or orange. It comes with different levels of hotness, ranging from mild to extreme. You may choose one according to your taste buds. At times, chili powder also contains salt, paprika, and cumin.

This staple spice is essential for many kinds of soups, rubs, tacos, enchiladas, chilis, stews, and Indian and Latin dishes. You may also use it while cooking chicken and other sorts of meat. For instance, chili powder is added as a taste booster in chicken fajita and spicy hot dogs.

2) Cumin

Cumin also holds an essential rank in every spice cabinet. Most commonly, this plant crop is dried and converted into powder before use. It is a great complement to a variety of Indian, North American, and Middle Eastern dishes. Many chefs recommend tossing cumin at the start of the cooking process to accentuate the flavor.

Cumin is specifically a game changer when added to chutneys, soups, barbecue sauces, bread, and some rice dishes. However, you must not be very generous while adding cumin to your dishes. It is because this spice tends to dominate the taste of an entire dish.

3) Pepper

You must be aware of pepper even if you have never stepped into the kitchen. If you are thinking of that black spice you sprinkle on your fried egg, you have guessed it right.

Pepper Corn

Pepper Corns

To attain its optimum flavor, experts recommend using ground fresh pepper. Another pro tip to keep in mind is that you should always purchase whole pepper corns. The pre-ground spice has often lost its flavor. Therefore, use a pepper mill for grinding pepper corns to sprinkle on tomorrow's breakfast.

4) Hot-red-chili flakes.

This spice is the ultimate way of heating up any dish. Hot red Chili flakes are made by grinding dried red chili peppers. You will most commonly encounter this spice while having pizzas or pastas. However, hot red chili flakes are also used in sauces, pickles, oils, and variety of Italian dishes. One must not add too many red chili flakes to any dish. It is better to add red chili flakes according to the recipe's requirement. 

Chili Flakes

5)  Nutmeg

Nutmeg

Nutmeg

Nutmeg is one of the most powerful spices. It has a characteristic pungent odor and is warm and sweet. Kitchen experts highly advise to use freshly grated nutmeg for enhanced and powerful flavor. Following are some ways of making use of the nutmeg on your kitchen counter.

  • Add it to hot beverages such as tea, coffee, and warm milk
  • Season vegetables like sweet potatoes with nutmeg
  • Use it in mashed potatoes
  • You may add a pinch on your fruits
  • Add it to mulled wine and egg nogs
  • Use it while baking cakes

  6) Smoked paprika

Smoked Paprika is one of the most famous spices that are used globally. Although it is a bit sweet, you can observe a few dashes of smoke as well. Not only does it give a nice red color, but also adds sweetness to vegetables, fish, and meat.

Therefore if you wish to add a smoky touch to your dish, go ahead and sprinkle a few dashes of smoked paprika.

7)  Ground cinnamon

Ground cinnamon is a warm spice that comes with countless nutritional benefits. It adds a naturally sweet touch to your dishes and beverages. Most commonly, people use ground cinnamon in baking and sweet dishes. This spice is a true necessity when it comes to Moroccan, Pakistani, and Indian Cuisines.

For enhanced flavor, add freshly grounded cinnamon to your dish and enjoy it to the fullest.

Before moving ahead, there is an interesting fact about grounded cinnamon that I am pretty sure you didn't know. Most of the powdered that we purchase from the market is fake. Companies are selling grounded cassia bark as cinnamon. Therefore, it is highly preferred that you purchase whole cinnamon sticks and ground them yourself.

8) Oregano

You may remember oregano from the last pasta or pizza slice you had. Fresh oregano is a true health booster. Studies indicate that oregano possesses great antibacterial qualities. It not only helps prevent infections, but also contains iron, manganese, tryptophan, calcium, and many other nutrients. 

oregano

Oregano

When it comes to taste, oregano is more similar to mint than to basil. It has a strong and pungent taste which is why the amount you sprinkle over your dish shall be closely checked. We may also say that it has a spicy taste with noticeable sour ad sweet notes.

9) Thyme

Thyme, perhaps, is the spice which blows life into French, Italian, and other European cuisines. It is a good source of vitamin C and vitamin A, along with a few minerals.

The correct use of thyme will help to bring out its taste to the fullest. It has a sharp earthy and minty flavor. Some pepperish notes are also easily observable. Generally, people add thyme to braises, sauces, gravies, and soups. However, this herb can complement many other recipes as well.

10) Rosemary

Rosemary is another herb native to Mediterranean regions. It is an excellent source of anti-flammatory compounds and antioxidants that improve blood circulation ad strengthen immune system.

It is used as a seasoning in sauces, stews, soups, and sweets. In addition to that, people also prefer adding rosemary to casseroles, poultry, and fish. Therefore, add rosemary to your spice and herb collection right away!  

Are Spices Unhealthy?

This question is worth addressing as many people believe that spicy foods are unhealthy and can lead to serious digestive problems.

Well, you may have heard the famous saying, ' excess of everything is bad'. Even an excess intake of vitamin-rich fruits can lead to toxic conditions within the body. Therefore, it is no different when it comes to spices. An excess intake of spices can lead to a few digestive problems. However, the guts of some people are naturally not made for hot spices. Therefore, they should carefully watch their spice intake.

Fortunately, spices have MORE nutritional benefits than concerns. A right intake of spices can serve as the perfect supplement of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Therefore, go ahead and sprinkle that spice right over your dish.