If you want to give your meals an upgrade, adding some new spices to your cooking repertoire can make a huge difference in transforming bland meals into flavorful, satisfying dishes. Spices have long been prized for their flavor, but many were also once used as healing remedies. They taste great and may even support health, which is all the more reason to use them while cooking.
Since spices can be expensive, purchasing one at a time rather than all at once can build your spice rack over time. This will help you diversify and really get to know your new spices.
Here are three we recommend!
This deep-red spice is popular in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisines. It offers a tart and subtle citrusy flavor, which works well with dishes that need a little something to brighten the flavor. It turns out that sumac is not only flavorful but may also help reduce inflammation and balance blood glucose levels.
How to use sumac:
- Season French fries or roasted cauliflower.
- Rub on chicken or fish before grilling.
- Sprinkle on hummus.
These thin red threads come from the stamen of crocus flowers. Because they need to be harvested by hand, this spice can be pricey – but a little goes a long way! When used in soups or mixed with rice, it adds a lovely aromatic quality and creates a vibrant yellow/orange color. Saffron may offer a variety of benefits, like reducing symptoms of depression, decreasing the drive to snack, and even reducing symptoms of sexual dysfunction.
How to use saffron:
- Season rice for paella or biryani.
- Blend into soups.
- Bake into cakes.
This spice, sometimes called hing, is popular in Indian cuisines – it helps turn a good curry into an amazing curry – and has antioxidant properties. Asafetida is derived from the resin of fennel plants. It has a pungent smell, and some may find it unappetizing at first. Once added to the cooking process, however, the smell subsides and the spice adds an element of umami that gives vegetarian and vegan dishes a nice oomph. This spice is sometimes mixed with wheat, so check the label if you’re gluten-free. Also, keep in mind that asafetida is potent, so use it sparingly.
How to use asafetida:
- Add to curries.
- Mix into stews.
- Cook with lentils.
What are your go-to spices? Are there any you’ve been wanting to try? Share and comment on your faves!