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9 Essential Spices in Your Cupboard

Sure, you may have an abundance of dried Kaffir lime leaves in your cupboard from that time you tried to get really into Balinese food, but for the most part that isn’t going to be what you are cooking at home. When it comes to making meals with a balanced flavor, there are a collection of staples that should be found in your spice cupboard. Here are some general spices that are essential for anyone who is making home-cooked meals...

1. Bay Leaves

Anytime one is making soups or sauces, the usage of dried bay leaves is practically required. When dropped into a heated pot, a bay leaf will begin to permeate the entire meal with an aromatic flavor that brings out the best in all of the other ingredients. Just make sure you take the leaves out after you are done cooking, as the actual leaves themselves have a bitter and unsavory taste. This is especially necessary to have in your cupboards, as the aroma repels moths, flies, and roaches.

2. Rosemary

It’s fitting that rosemary is small and thin like pine needles, as it is consistently described as having a natural pine aroma. The sweet and earthy flavor is wonderful for spicing poultry, and is great for rubs or marinades for other meats. Anytime you are sauteing vegetables or meat in oil, drop in a few pinches of rosemary to bring a natural aroma to the meal. It’s also a wonderful ingredient for breads and sauces.

3. Paprika

Paprika is known for its vibrant red color. Indeed, when you see red food products that say they have no artificial food coloring, it is very likely that paprika was used for this effect. Paprika is more than a pretty color, though. It has a very pungent and spicy flavor that comes from dried chili peppers, but also a sweetness that compliments that spice. It is a wonderful way to bring some flavorful kick to a meal that needs a little spice. It also makes a great garnish on meats, deviled eggs, salads, and cheeses. The health benefits of paprika are great, as well, as the spice has a very high concentration of vitamin C.

4. Garlic

Garlic can come in the form of powder granules or entire cloves (the cloves are much more pungent). A popular ingredient in many, many dishes, garlic is definitely the most used root in the world of cooking. It is essential when it comes to seasoning meat or vegetables, and should always be used whenever sauteing anything. Garlic is also very popular when it comes to marinating beef or any other kind of red meat.

5. Black Pepper

Black cayenne pepper is, far and away, the most popular of all spices in the world. Indeed, it is used all over the world in almost every dish imaginable. Pepper is a non-intrusive way to bring a spiciness to a meal, as it won’t radically effect any other flavors going on. It is a way to add a pleasant kick to any meal, and can make an incredibly dull meal have flavor. You can purchase it already finely ground, or buy in full peppercorns and grind them freshly yourself, which will make for a more pungent flavor.

6. Cumin

Cumin comes in the form of dried seeds that have been left in an airtight container for a great deal of time, sometimes even as much as three years! There is a certain nuttiness and earthy flavor to cumin that makes it perfect to use in chili powder to compliment the spicy flavors. It is a must have in any curry, and is immensely popular in Middle Eastern food.

7. Basil

Basil is an absolutely necessary ingredient for any sauce, and a must have for garnishing meat. The greatest application of basil is in Italian food, where you will find it in nearly every dish, but it is also used very often throughout Southeastern Asian food. Basil has a sweet, but savory taste, and has the slighting aroma of mint. Crush the leaves for greater flavor.

8. Oregano

Oregano is closely related to basil, and is very similar to it in look and smell. However, while Basil is more sweet, Oregano has much of a spicy flavor, and a greater kick than basil. This makes the two the perfect complementary match, and most recipes that call for one will definitely call for the other. Oregano is wonderful for pasta sauce. And, simply put, you can’t make Italian food without it, or else you’re a fraud!

9. Cinnamon

Cinnamon is the perfect spice when it comes to baking. The sweet-spicy flavor is wonderful for desserts, which is where it is most used. It is a tasty accompaniment to natural, fruity flavors, or even vegetables! In addition to fruits and veggies, it is also used in many dishes with chocolate, in order to emphasise the sweetness of the cacao. Cinnamon comes in powder form, or in sticks that you can grind yourself. A freshly ground stick of cinnamon will have a much more potent flavor.

These spices should definitely be in a cupboard, as shown in this article.


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