If you grew up in a household where salt and black pepper were the only flavours on the 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!
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.
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.
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!
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.