10 essential spices

What are your 10 essential spices? No going over the limit!

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78 Comments

AntoniaJames May 30, 2012
BoulderGalinTokyo, the recipe for Dukkah is in this recipe I posted last year: http://food52.com/recipes/12066_hard_cooked_eggs_lime_aioli_and_dukkah I use a good Malabar pepper when I'm low on grains of paradise. The Kormala Masala blend is from "The Spice Merchant's Daughter," by Christina Arokiasamy, who grew up in Malaysia, the daughter of a woman whose business was blending spices and pastes for local customers. Here is the recipe, paraphrased and substantially edited:

Lightly brown in a skillet over medium-low heat:
10 raw cashews, crushed, and 1 tablespoon channa dal.
It should take 8 – 10 minutes. It’s better that they be slightly under-toasted than browned until dark. Once toasted, immediately put them on a plate.

In the same skillet, cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, just until fragrant:
1 tsp. anise seeds, 1 2-inch cinnamon stick, 3 cloves, ½ teaspoon cardamom seeds, 1 tablespoon coriander seeds, 2 teaspoons white peppercorns and 1 teaspoon cumin seeds.
Shake the skillet and pour out onto a plate.

Grind half of the seeds and cinnamon stick in an electric mill; then, add half of the cashews and channa dal. Grind, stopping every three or four seconds, and scrape the mixture away from the bottom.

Pulse a few more times. You don’t want to turn the cashews into paste. Remove and repeat with the rest of the cashews, dal and whole spices.

Combine all of the ground ingredients with the fennel. Store in a tightly covered container in a cool place. Use within a month or so. ;o)

 
Greenstuff May 29, 2012
Thanks for posting your list, AntoniaJames. When my daughter was in college, we always put together a nice spice collections from what we had at home, and her care packages were as likely to include interesting spice blends and nice olive oils as they were sweets. Those flat-rate boxes were the best.

She's now headed off for a year in a very expensive country. I hadn't thought about sending her with spices and condiments, but thanks to you, it will be a great departure gift.

 
AntoniaJames May 29, 2012
My younger son is headed out in August for a year at LSE, Greenstuff, so I'll be doing the same for him in a few months. He'll be flying of course, with less luggage, so we'll probably just do salts, herbs and spices, but we will go through the same general process. And when I go to see him at Christmas, I will pack a suitcase full of jars and bottles of homemade condiments, jams and preserves, and similar goodies to see him through the rest of the year. Of course I'm also looking forward to exploring with him, while I'm there, the best places to shop for food! ;o)
 
AntoniaJames May 29, 2012
I went through an interesting exercise related to this, with my eldest son, who headed down to LA on Sunday morning, to beging a film industry summer internship. He'll be living with some other people in a house, sharing their kitchen. We didn't know what they have in their spice rack, but it doesn't matter much, as he'll be able to send whatever he doesn't use this summer back to his shared house in Chapel Hlll in August. He has never cooked and shopped on a regular basis for himself, so we sat down and figured out and outlined about 10 things he could/would like to cook, and developed a list of essential spices, herbs and condiments. Of course, that also produced a playbook of strategies for making it happen. Then I packed up a box of bottles and jars of the following:

Cinnamon
Cumin (freshly ground)
Cumin (whole seeds)
Curry Powder (freshly ground and blended by me that day)
Black Pepper
Red Pepper Flakes
Smoky Paprika (Spanish)
Oregano
Marjoram
Thyme
Dukkah (my own blend: toasted pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, cumin, coriander, black pepper and salt)
Korma Masala (cashews, channa dal, aniseed, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, coriander, white pepper, fennel and cumin)

Other essentials I put together -- recognizing that he’ll shop for a lot of items, including staples like olive oil and peanut butter, when he gets there :

Salt
Red wine vinegar
Peanut Sauce (from chinapans’ excellent recipe here; it’s like a satay sauce made with peanut butter, lime juice, honey, soy sauce and rice vinegar.)
Fish sauce
Peanut oil
Garlic and mustard aioli
Brown sugar
Three jars of jam (blueberry, nectarine and raspberry, all homemade)
One jar of blueberries in light syrup
One jar of spiced roasted applesauce
30 phulka roti
Genius Olive Oil Granola, from FOOD52 (1/2 batch)
1/2 loaf Buttermilk Oatmeal Bread (made with whey)

An outline, which we developed together, of items to cook and more importantly, strategies for preparing most of his own meals

A comprehensive grocery list, based on the outline

I wanted to put up and send along these, but other priorities delayed that project. (I’ll send him a flat rate box this weekend with these, plus whatever utensils he needs that his summer-share kitchen doesn’t have.):

Homemade sriracha (FOOD52 recipe, of course!)
Pint of onion confit with red wine vinegar and thyme
Pint of onion confit in ghee with ginger and Indian spices
Pickled jalapenos
Pickled red onions

;o)
 
Amanda H. May 29, 2012
Wow -- your son is lucky!
 
AntoniaJames May 29, 2012
Amanda, you'd be interested to know that among his favorite dishes to prepare are monkeymom's Criss-Cross Eggplant and Nancy Jo's Eggplant Parm. In each case, he'll make more eggplant than he needs, to stick in wraps the next day with meat quickly sauteed with whatever spices, herbs and/or aromatics he feels like using. ;o)
 
Amanda H. May 29, 2012
Sounds great AJ.
 
AntoniaJames May 29, 2012
I also prepared a 3 x 5 card listing the spices/herbs in the box, with as many ideas of things i know he can/will cook for each spice/herb, as well as what goes with what (e.g., marjoram + thyme work well with chicken; marjoram + rosemary go well in spaghetti sauce). It covered both sides of the card. Of course, it's not comprehensive, but gives him a good start. At his insistence, I photocopied and then scanned the card. I did that for the other items I prepared for him, too, including the grocery list! I hope to use them, adapted of course, for my younger son when he leaves for London in August. ;o)
 
BoulderGalinTokyo May 30, 2012
Would it be possible for you to share your lovely-sounding blends, Dukkah and Korma Masala?
Please, please....?
 
fernetaboutit April 26, 2012
black pepper, cayenne, cumin, coriander, turmeric, fennel, cardamom, cinnamon, star anise, smoked paprika
 
fernetaboutit April 26, 2012
black pepper, cayenne, cumin, coriander, turmeric, fennel, cardamom, cinnamon, star anise, smoked paprika
 
dinnerbelle April 26, 2012
Coriander, black pepper, smoked paprika, allspice, mace, cardamom, cinnamon (canela), bay leaf, mustard seeds, and aleppo pepper.
 
cookinginvictoria February 17, 2012
Sorry to be late to the party. Such a fun question. Here are my ten favorite spices.

Chile molido (Hatch chile powder)
Smoked paprika
Ginger
Cardamom
Vietnamese cinnamon
Star anise
Fennel pollen
Nutmeg
Sichuan peppercorns
Saffron

And just for fun, here are my top ten herbs:

Basil
Dill
Parsley
Cilantro
Mint
Chives
Lemon thyme
Rosemary
Oregano
Sage
 
beyondcelery February 16, 2012
I feel like turmeric is under-represented here!

turmeric
black pepper
sea salt
cumin
paprika
cardamom
allspice
cayenne
ginger
thyme
 
Ophelia February 16, 2012
Cumin, cinnamon, mustard seed, ginger, cardamom, garlic, chili powder, allspice, dill and bay leaf.
Assuming that salt and pepper are a given.
 
jenmmcd February 16, 2012
So not including S, P garlic, and any herbs:

Cumin
Coriander
Cinnamon
Paprika (I like sweet smoked...)
Ground Ancho chilis (much better than any chili powder mix. see spice shop link below)
Curry powder (also use Madras)
Tumeric
Ginger
Nutmeg
Cloves

If we can include spice blends, I use a Chat Masala blend from Savory Spice shop all the time. http://www.savoryspiceshop.com/shopsavory.html
 
jb23 February 16, 2012
garlic
cinnamon
basil
rosemary
sea salt
pepper
cumin
chili powder
cayenne
ginger
 
fiveandspice February 16, 2012
Not counting salt, pepper, and herbs:
cumin
coriander
cayenne
cinnamon
cardamom
paprika
turmeric
chile powder
nutmeg
and thyme - which actually is an herb, but I use it all the time, thyme, time, whatever.
 
em-i-lis February 16, 2012
Add your answer here
 
GIOVANNI50 February 16, 2012
Parsley
Rosemary
Thyme

Old Bay seasoning for fish- always!
 
Panfusine February 16, 2012
these replies ought to be added to a spread sheet to get the top 3 spices & then Food52 should have a contest around a dish using these three....
 
Panfusine February 16, 2012
I know its off the topic, but as for my 10 favorite herbs..


Cilantro,
Rosemary,
Thyme,
lavender,
parsley,
dill,
dried fenugreek leaves,
curry leaves,
oregano,
marjoram
 
MaryMaryCulinary February 16, 2012
cardamom
nutmeg
tonka beans
ginger
mace
cumin
coriander
black pepper
pimenton
turmeric
 
healthierkitchen February 16, 2012
If we are talking only about dried spices and not including salt and black pepper, these are the ones I use most often:

cumin
cinnamon
cardamom
bay
oregano
Aleppo pepper
smoked paprika
madras curry
turmeric
chili powder mix

fresh herbs would be another story entirely!
 
Bevi February 15, 2012
Sea Salt
Black Pepper
White Peppercorns
Crushed Red Pepper
Mustard
Coriander
Nutmeg
Cinnamon
Cardamom
Cayenne
 
Bevi February 16, 2012
If salt and pepper are a given, I will add ginger and paprika.
 
mrslarkin February 15, 2012
Kosher salt
black pepper
cinnamon
nutmeg
ginger
cloves
cardamom
crushed red pepper
cayenne
Grains of Paradise - They are awesome. Like a lemony peppercorn.
 
GIOVANNI50 February 15, 2012
and Cloves and Nutmeg which I Use abundantly in all sauces
 
GIOVANNI50 February 15, 2012
Rosemary
Garlic Powder
Tarragon
Parsley
Thyme
Oregano
Cinnamon
Old Bay Seasoning
Fennel Seeds/flowers
Marjoram
All Spice
Bay Leaves
Adobo

Herbs:

Fresh Italian Parsley
Cylantro
Thyme
Oregano (greek)
Sage
Fennel fronds
Basil
 
AntoniaJames February 15, 2012
P.S. Cardamom would not be on my list had it not been for two FOOD52 contests! ;o)
 
AntoniaJames February 15, 2012
Also not counting salt and pepper, though the latter certainly is a spice, here you go, in no particular order:

Cinnamon
Cloves
Nutmeg
Ginger
Cumin
Coriander
Fennel
Cardamom
Anise
Mustard

And my ten favorite herbs, again in no particular order:

Parsley (fresh only, however)
Cilantro (fresh only)
Bay leaves
Sage
Rosemary
Thyme
Marjoram
Oregano
Basil
Tarragon
(Actually all of the herbs listed I prefer, and therefore generally use, when fresh.)

;o)
 
BoulderGalinTokyo April 26, 2012
How can you cook Italian without garlic? Or is that considered a tubular? But then ginger would be with the garlic.
 
DebJ February 15, 2012
(Not counting Salt & Pepper)
thyme
basil
oregano
cumin
rosemary
ginger
parsley
cayenne pepper
tarragon
cinnamon
 
midnitechef February 15, 2012
Add your answer here
 
EmilyC February 15, 2012
kosher salt
black pepper
red pepper flakes
cayenne
cumin
smoked paprika
fennel seed
cinnamon
nutmeg
ginger
 
pierino February 15, 2012
Saffron threads
Pimenton d'esplette
Aleppo pepper
Red pepper flakes
Fennel pollen
Sea salt
Cumin
Cassia
Bay Leaf
Fresh thyme that I've just plucked
 
BoulderGalinTokyo April 26, 2012
Fennel POLLEN? How like you pierino!
 
Gabriella P. February 15, 2012
Add your answer here
 
Brette W. February 15, 2012
Black Pepper
Sea salt
Cumin
Cayenne
Smoked Paprika
Nutmeg
Cinnamon
Crushed red pepper
Cardamom
Fennel seeds
 
Gabriella P. February 15, 2012
Black Pepper
Cayenne
Cinnamon
Cumin
Garlic
Ginger
Nutmeg
Paprika
Tumeric
Sea Salt
 
hullaballumallu February 15, 2012
I'm an Indian woman who lives in New York, I cook both Eastern and Western food and this is an impossibly short list or me to form.
 
Panfusine February 16, 2012
I know EXACTLY what you mean..
 
allans February 14, 2012
I thought I would clarify how I answered this question. I thought of the "spice racks" popular as wedding gifts which included spices, herbs and dehydrated misc. That is why I included herbs with my list.
 
susan G. February 15, 2012
Everyone has great lists! I won't add to them, but comment that yes, herbs are not "spices," but "spice" is also used as a term to encompass all the seasonings. Historically, I think spices for Europeans were exotic, from distant lands (and dry, with good keeping qualities), and herbs were the fresh plants they could grow at their doorstep or gather from hillsides and forests.
 
drbabs February 14, 2012
Salt
Pepper
Allspice
Ginger
Cinnamon
Red pepper flakes
Cayenne
Smoked paprika
Cumin
Coriander


 
Panfusine February 14, 2012
This is such a lovely informative pickle, great reading about everyones preferences... Do spice blends count?
 
Panfusine February 16, 2012
Turmeric is definitely a must have, I chose to omit it (since it's more of a color related ingredient) in favor of categorizing all the flavor related spices,
 
Panfusine February 14, 2012
Cumin,
Coriander,
Cardamom,
Fenugreek,
Mustard seeds,
Chili pepper powder
asafetida,
black peppercorns
Cinnamon
Cloves
 
Amanda H. February 14, 2012
Salt
Pepper
Cayenne
Cinnamon
Nutmeg
Ginger
Cardamom
Star Anise
Crushed red pepper
Smoked paprika
 
Loke February 14, 2012
Thyme fresh
Garlic fresh
Salt
Pepper
Cumin
Chili powder
Cayenne
Rosemary fresh
Curry powder
Fennel seed
 
Darlene C. February 14, 2012
black pepper
garlic powder
onion powder
cumin
coriander
Hungarian paprika
smoked paprika
cayenne
nutmeg (whole)
bay leaves
 
babytiger February 14, 2012
cumin
curry
cayenne
paprika
crushed red peppers
peppercorn
bay leaves
thyme
garlic
onion flakes
 
petitbleu February 14, 2012
cumin
coriander
cardamom
nutmeg
ginger
smoked paprika
black pepper
clove
mace
cinnamon
 
Miranda R. February 14, 2012
I think this means a) i like to bake & b) I am partial to the letter 'c' :

cinnamon
cloves
allspice
ginger
cayenne
cumin
smoky paprika
thyme
coriander
 
Miranda R. February 14, 2012
ah! nutmeg is #10!
 
Amanda L. February 14, 2012
Kosher salt
Garlic
Ginger
Sichuan peppercorns
Star anise
Sichuan dried chilies
Black pepper
Tumeric
Cumin
Cinnamon
 
Nozlee S. February 14, 2012
I totally forgot about Sichuan peppercorns!!
 
Nozlee S. February 14, 2012
Chunky sea salt (I love the Hawaiian pink salt my boyfriend's family brings back from Hawaii)
Black pepper (Always freshly ground!)
Pimeton de la Vera (the smoky stuff)
Vietnamese cinnamon (I'll never buy the grocery store stuff again)
Fennel seeds (to add a floral-yet-savory note)
Nanami Togarshi (nothing is spicy-citrusy like it is!)
Cardamom (as an Iranian it's practically necessary)
Saffron (ditto! On rice, stirred into stews, in pastries...)
Cumin seeds (especially when they're toasted)
Cayenne (for a sharp note of spiciness)
 
inpatskitchen February 14, 2012
Kosher salt
Black pepper
Crushed red pepper
Cayenne
Granulated garlic
Dill
Oregano
Paprika
Nutmeg
Ginger
 
alasully February 14, 2012
Cardamom
Black Pepper
Smoked Paprika
Nutmeg
Cumin
Rosemary
Thyme
Sage
Cayenne
Cinnamon
 
ChefJune February 14, 2012
I am not including herbs. They are not "spices."

Saigon Cinnamon
Nutmeg
Mace
Cardamom
Chinese 5 Spice
Ras el Hanout
Black Pepper (both Sichuan and Tellicherry)
White Pepper
Cloves
Allspice
 
creamtea February 14, 2012
sea salt
chili powder
cumin
black pepper
garlic powder
oregano
Aleppo pepper
bay leaves (fresh and dried)
smoked Paprika
cinnamon
 
Sara F. February 14, 2012
Cilantro
Mint
Thyme
Cumin
Crushed Red Pepper
Vanilla
Ginger
Chili powder
Cardamom
Turmeric
 
bcnfoodie February 14, 2012
black pepper
cardamom
cumin
ginger
pimenton
bay leaves
cayenne pepper
oregano
cinnamon
nutmeg
 
Sadassa_Ulna February 14, 2012
garlic
ginger
cumin
cinnamon
cardamom
black pepper
thyme
rosemary
coriander
vanilla
 
allans February 14, 2012
Whole peppercorns mixed in a grinder- black,white,pink,green
Kosher Salt
Cayenne Pepper
Tarragon
Oregano
French Thyme
Cumin
Curry Powder
Adobo (Penzey's)
Cocoa
 
hardlikearmour February 14, 2012
Spices only for me & in alphabetical order:
Black pepper
Cardamom
Cayenne
Cinnamon
Cloves
Coriander
Cumin
Ginger
Nutmeg
Paprika (smoked)
 
em-i-lis February 15, 2012
This is my exact list except that I'll trade cloves for Rosemary!
 
hardlikearmour February 16, 2012
except rosemary is technically an herb ;-).
 
Tarragon February 14, 2012
thyme
paprika
smoked paprika
cumin
tarragon
fennel
black pepper
cloves
allspice
cinnamon
 
MotherWouldKnow February 14, 2012
Wait - someone who uses the name tarragon puts that at #5 :) Are we supposed to name just spices or do herbs count? Many of these answers are including herbs like tarragon and thyme (leaves).
Answer image
 
Tarragon February 15, 2012
The above list isn't in particular order!
 
SKK February 14, 2012
Thyme - dried
Black pepercorns
Rosemary - fresh
Basil - fresh
Bay Leaves - dried
Ginger Root - fresh
Sea Salt
Hot peppers I dehydrate and grind
Cumin
Fennel - dried and fresh
 
boulangere February 14, 2012
Does sea salt count? I'll pretend someone said yes.

sea salt
black pepper
white pepper
green pepper
chipotle powder
rosemary
basil
thyme
bay
smoked paprika
 
eddiew February 14, 2012
green, white, black, red peppercorns
dill
thyme
granulated garlic
sage
rosemary
cumin
paprika
cayenne
cinnamon
 
Christine February 14, 2012
Paprika, black pepper, cayenne pepper, sage, cinnamon, nutmeg, oregano, cumin, coriander, ginger.
 
midnitechef February 14, 2012
Black pepper
garlic powder
cardamom
caraway
chili powder
cinnamon
ginger
rosemary
thyme
oregano

(do herbs count? Mine do!)
 
Douglas L. February 14, 2012
Cumin, Paprika, Basil, Sage, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Allspice, Tumeric, Curry, Marjoram
 
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