One of my favorite, and possibly the most important part of my kitchen is my spice drawer! I use spices daily to flavor our meals and always enjoy trying out new ones popular in other countries and imagining what it would be like to travel there and eat the food! Learning to work with different spices is also a great way to take a very simple meal and totally change it up without having to come up with an entirely new recipe. I buy my most used spices in bulk and just refill the jars in my drawer when I need to. In addition to my jars of go-tos, I keep small packets of other spices that I have picked up here and there for a recipe in case I need them again – and sometimes these turn into new must haves and get upgraded to their own jar! Today I’m just going to do a quick run through of what is currently in my spice drawer and what I typically use those items for.
Cumin & Cumin Seed: We use cumin practically every day in our kitchen! It goes in our homemade taco seasoning, all of our daal and curry recipes, chili, and various soups and stews. Cumin is my husbands favorite spice so he’s been known to just sprinkle it on steak or anything he’s eating.
Coriander & Turmeric: Both of these spices are staples in our weekly daal recipe as well as our favorite curries. Turmeric is amazing for your body and fighting inflammation so we try add that in to soups and other recipes, sometimes make golden milk (google it, try it!), and I also use it to naturally color our homemade play dough a gorgeous yellow.
Cinnamon, Ginger, & Cardamom: My favorite “sweet spices” that I use for all the baking and curries. I also sometimes add one or more of these to porridge or coffee in the morning, gut healing gummies, puddings or ice creams, and generally any kind of treat for an interesting and yummy depth of flavor.
Nutmeg, Clove, & Allspice: These ones don’t get a ton of use throughout the year but get used a lot in the fall and holiday season for baking. They are staples of pumpkin pie spice which I prefer to make myself. I have a handful of savory recipes on my “once in awhile” rotation that call for one or two of these spices as well.
Chili & Garlic Powder: I really only use chili powder for taco seasoning and chili but I make those things often enough that I’d never be without it. Garlic powder is part of my taco blend but also regularly goes in my pizza crust. This is my husbands other favorite spice that goes on basically everything he cooks.
Smoked Paprika: This spice is a special favorite of mine! I discovered it during my first pregnancy and wanted to put it on everything for awhile (especially eggs, yum!), and still think it tastes amazing on anything! It’s another component of my taco seasoning, is delicious on roasted veggies, and is a perfect compliment to hummus and other Mediterranean dishes.
Crushed Red Pepper & Cayenne: For adding heat to things obviously.
Garam Masala & Curry Powder: Blends I use at least a couple times a month because we love all things Indian cuisine.
Rosemary, Thyme, Oregano, & Dill: The dried herbs I keep on hand. I prefer fresh herbs when possible (especially in the case of rosemary though not so much with oregano) but it’s definitely nice to have the dried versions available. I use oregano the most, in my taco blend and my number one lunch of choice, chickpea salad.
Italian Seasoning and Herbs de Provence: My dried herb blends.
Mustard, Fennel, & Fenugreek Seeds: Bought these for a random curry dish that has about fifty ingredients in it and have used each of them once or twice since.
Sesame & Poppy Seeds: For stir frys, dressings, or muffins.
Black Pepper & Himalayan Pink Salt: The obvious finishing ingredients but with an upgrade. Himalayan salt is the highest in mineral content so we switched to it years ago and believe it tastes better than any other salt! Black pepper acts as a carrier spice, transporting beneficial nutrients to the parts of the body that need them most and essentially helping all the other health boosting spices do their jobs.
It can be intimidating when trying to eliminate MSG filled flavoring packets or simply trying to add more “from scratch” recipes to your arsenal, to figure out what you need to make your food taste good. It definitely takes time and some experimentation to find what your family likes and which spices you will need most, but I encourage you to pick a few at a time from my list that sound intriguing to you and just give it a shot! Maybe you won’t like one or maybe it will become a new staple in your kitchen, but the great thing is that spices are usually pretty affordable and you can just buy small amounts to start with. I’m sure there are some other amazing spices out there that I don’t have in my drawer, so if you have any that you love and think I need to try, let me know in the comments!