Shake Up Your Spice Rack: 7 Unique Spices You Need Right Now

Shake Up Your Spice Rack: 7 Unique Spices You Need Right Now

We've all got the basics - salt, pepper, oregano, cinnamon. Sure, they're staples in every kitchen, but it's time to shake up your spice rack and explore more colourful, unique spices. From your breakfast to your dinner, and even in your desserts and drinks, these spices can truly transform your culinary experiences. Not only do these spices add a rich burst of flavour to your dishes, but they are also laden with health benefits. Here, we uncover the secret power of these 7 unique spices you should definitely be adding to your pantry. 

1. Sumac

This tart, deep-red spice hails from the Mediterranean and the Middle East and has a zesty lemon-like flavour that can brighten up a variety of dishes. Sumac is traditionally used in Middle Eastern cuisine in everything from salads to grilled meats and stews. It's an excellent addition to your dry rub recipes, and it pairs brilliantly with vegetables, fish, chicken, and lamb. Sprinkle it over your hummus or use it as a garnish on your rice and you're guaranteed to be impressed.


2. Za'atar

Another Middle Eastern treasure, Za'atar is a blend of herbs and spices including thyme, marjoram, sesame seeds, and sometimes sumac. It’s a blend that is used in a multitude of ways. It's fantastic when mixed with olive oil as a dip for bread, sprinkled on roasted vegetables or used in marinades for meats, and it can also be added to salad dressings.

Mahz-Alam-Ipmhou5D3Xa-UnsplashPhoto by Mahz Alam on Unsplash

3. Garam Masala

Moving on to India, Garam Masala is a warming spice blend that commonly includes cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, black pepper, and nutmeg. This fragrant mix is a vital ingredient in many Indian recipes, like curries, soups, and lentil dishes. But don't limit it to traditional recipes: sprinkle it on your roasted veggies or mix it into your yogurt for a kick. 

Prchi-Palwe-Yuimwavk7Aq-UnsplashPhoto by Prchi Palwe on Unsplash

4. Berbere

All the way from Ethiopia, Berbere is a hot and flavorful spice mix that typically includes chilli peppers, garlic, ginger, basil, kora rima, rue, ajwain or radhuni, nigella, and fenugreek. Its smokey, slightly sweet and spicy profile makes it ideal for flavouring lentils, meats, and traditional Ethiopian stews (like Doro Wat). A touch of Berbere can also bring a unique twist to your barbecued or grilled foods.

Ratul-Ghosh-Nprwya69Mz0-UnsplashPhoto by Ratul Ghosh on Unsplash


5. Grains of Paradise

A West African spice, Grains of Paradise is known for its warm, spicy-sweet flavour with hints of citrus, clove, cardamom, and black pepper. Use it as a pepper substitute to add depth to your savoury dishes or include it in your sweet dishes like gingerbread or spiced cookies. It's even become a favourite in craft beer brewing and specialty gin distillation.

Tiard-Schulz-V5Bqsot6Ucg-UnsplashPhoto by Tiard Schulz on Unsplash

6. Anardana

Anardana, or dried pomegranate seeds, come from South Asia and the Middle East. These seeds have a fruity, mildly sweet and tangy flavour, which is excellent in both sweet and savoury dishes. You can use Anardana in your salads, chutneys, curries, and even desserts. It pairs especially well with chickpeas, lentils, and meat dishes. 

Spices-Gbfde8396C 1280Image by Barbara Rosner from Pixabay

7. Kala Namak

Lastly, we have Kala Namak or black salt. This distinctive Indian volcanic rock salt has a sulphurous taste, similar to boiled egg yolks. It’s used in traditional South Asian cooking, often used in chaats, chutneys, salads, and fruit dishes. Not limited to savoury dishes, it also shines in sweet recipes, particularly in vegan and vegetarian cooking, where it mimics the taste of eggs in tofu scrambles and omelettes.

Pratiksha-Mohanty-V0Xp-Dts3Z0-UnsplashPhoto by Pratiksha Mohanty on Unsplash

In conclusion, spices offer us a passport to different parts of the world, adding complexity and depth to our food. Don't let your spice rack stay bland. Get adventurous, experiment with these unique spices, and get out of your comfort zone.