Novice Cooks: Chef like a Boss with these Top 5 Spices!

If you grew up in a household where salt and black pepper were the only flavours on your do it yourself spice rack, it can be incredibly hard to get your head around the plethora of choice available on the seasoning rack or aisle. Fear not! If you’re looking for tips as a complete beginner, let this article serve as a catalyst into your new found love affair with an adventure into culinary delights…read on for Novice Cooks: Chef like a Boss with these Top 5 Spices!

1. Cinnamon

Cinnamon is a spice that everyone is familiar with in theory. It’s aroma is reason enough to explore it. Its bitter-sweet, earthy flavour profile makes it incredibly versatile. You can throw it in porridge, bake it with fruit, sprinkle it on top of coffee or add it when cooking deeply-flavoured dishes such as stews, curries or chilis. Cinnamon is loaded with antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory properties. Adding ½ teaspoon is enough for most dishes. If you’re feeling adventurous, grab cinnamon sticks and grind them at home for a deeper flavour.

2. Cumin

Cumin, native to the eastern Mediterranean and India, is a seed that’s ground into a powder and used as a staple in many spice blends, from curry powders to Mexican mixes. It has a toasty flavour which is hard to replicate with other spices. It’s used mostly in soups, gravies and curries, or paired with white fish. If you’re making Mexican or Indian food, add a tablespoon for good measure as it’s a part of the basic taste sensation making up the typical dish flavours of those regions.

3. Turmeric

Turmeric root is not a spice known for its deep flavour. Yet it deserves a grand mention due to its many health benefits and vibrant colour. Add a bit to white rice to turn it a vibrant yellow or deepen the shade of any korma. Turmeric’s core compound of curcumin is scientifically proven to prevent heart disease, and slow down Alzheimer’s and cancer. It is also suggested that it can thwart symptoms of arthritis and depression. Why not incorporate it into your daily diet in the form of a turmeric latte or a turmeric shot? Just make sure to add some freshly ground black pepper on top as it helps to activate turmeric’s native and potent properties.

4. Smoked Paprika

Why the emphasis on smoked? While generic paprika is crushed dried chillies, smoked paprika uses smoke-dried chillies. This makes a massive difference to their flavours. Use it to season everything from seafood and meat to vegetables, rice, potatoes and soups. It adds an additional layer to your food and intensifies the flavour. Simply a no brainer!

5. Cayenne Pepper Powder

Don’t bother with generic chilli powders and instead grab yourself some cayenne pepper. It’s a staple in many bottled hot sauces and possesses a deeper flavour than standard chilli powders. If you’re someone who enjoys heat in your food, use it in marinades when making Cajun, Indian or southern-style dishes. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can even add it to chocolate bakes such as brownies for an underlying kick.

So there you have it, 5 superb spices to explore as a novice cook and maybe get you soon cooking like an amateur chef! It goes without saying that sea salt and freshly ground black pepper are ingredients which you should always have on hand, but by using this guide you can whip up some impressive new dishes that rival (or at least equal!) your favourite takeaways. Which spices do you use that deserve a special mention? Let us know in the comments below and follow the conversation on FacebookTwitter & Instagram and while you’re spicing up your life, don’t forget to Keep Your Fit ON!

Paulina Utnik

Paulina is a BA Journalism student from London with a passion for considerate consumption, practising mindfulness and alternative wellness. She has a passion for food and has been a dedicated vegetarian for four years, beginning her journey as a sixteen-year-old. Since then, she has been learning about nutrition and her body and gradually evolving as a cook. She enjoys trying out new food trends, recreating popular restaurant dishes at home and meat substitutes as well as discovering ways to share her passion with others through her Instagram page: @paulina.utnik!

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