Cilantro & Co – which spices belong in every kitchen?
Which spices should actually be part of every kitchen’s basic equipment? Have you ever wondered what is considered a must-have besides salt and pepper? We have dived into the spice box and selected the best spices. Find out below which spices go with which dish and which spices belong in every kitchen, so you can shine at the next gathering with your friends.
When you are in the grocery store, it can be somewhat overwhelming to see the sheer selection of spices available. Fortunately, there are now spice blends that are already tailored for certain dishes. Yet, the individual touch and the joy of experimenting are lost with those. If you do not like to stick strictly to cooking recipes or you are still in the infancy of your cooking career, you should reach for the following spices, in addition to salt and pepper, to upgrade your spice game:
Paprika and chili
These two spices are real all-round talents! They are perfect for seasoning meat, vegetables, and pasta dishes but also scrambled eggs, dips, sauces, and beans. A real classic in which paprika and chili are used is, of course, chili con carne! Hint: paprika powder loses its aroma after about six months of storage, even if it is stored in a dark and airtight place. It is therefore not worth buying paprika powder in large quantities.
The spice Oregano itself has a rather intense aroma which goes well with tomato dishes. Oregano can also be mixed with thyme, basil, and rosemary. This delicious Mediterranean spice mixture can often be found on Italian pizza and in pasta dishes. This spice also goes well with soups, salads, rice, vegetables, fish, and antipasti. Since oregano is heat-resistant, the spice should be added to the dish early in the cooking process – so that it can develop its full flavor.
Curry is a spice blend in itself: more than ten spices are blended together to create the typical curry flavor. These include pepper, turmeric, cumin, coriander, and many more. Curry is suitable for seasoning rice and poultry dishes. It also goes well with meat strips and roasted vegetables. Hint: curry develops its aroma best when added to the pan from the beginning; the cooking and frying process ensures a full curry aroma.
Ginger is not only suitable as an addition to warm tea or as a candied snack but also for cooking! Those who like to eat sushi are well familiar with ginger as a thinly sliced sweet and sour garnish. With its aromatic pungency, ginger goes well with many meat, rice, and vegetable dishes. In terms of taste, ginger can be mixed with chili, garlic, oregano, nutmeg, or cinnamon, for example, which are also spices that belong in every kitchen.
Nutmeg gives dishes a very intense and spicy aroma. This goes particularly well with potato dishes, such as mashed potatoes. Nutmeg also goes well with cabbage dishes. Hint: the spicy aroma of nutmeg is best when it is freshly grated into the dish. Thus, you should always buy whole nutmegs and grate them with the help of a nutmeg grater.
Although most probably think of desserts and christmas cookies when they hear cinnamon, it is actually suitable for so much more: cinnamon can enhance dishes with game, pasta, rice, and red cabbage. Hint: a higher-grade and a lower-grade cinnamon exist. Higher quality cinnamon is called Ceylon cinnamon which you should always look out for! The inferior cinnamon, called Cassia cinnamon, can be harmful to health if consumed in a certain amount. Thus, when buying cinnamon, always pay attention to the kind of cinnamon that is contained. This is especially true for baked goods and finished products; as for cost concerns, most companies use the inferior cinnamon.
Fennel is also one of the spices which belong in every kitchen. It adds a spicy, yet sweet flavor to a variety of dishes, such as meat, fish, and vegetable dishes, stews, soups, sauces, but also pastries and bread. The taste of fennel can be combined with oregano, nutmeg, or garlic.
Cumin is described by historians as one of the oldest spices in the world. With its woody, spicy, and bittersweet taste, it goes well with cabbage, potatoes, chickpeas, beans, lentils, stews, rice, meat, and fish dishes. Likewise, cumin is often used when baking bread. Cumin is a very typical spice for Oriental as well as Asian dishes. Classics with cumin are for example chili con carne and Indian chutneys.
Garlic powder is a very versatile seasoning talent. Those who do not have fresh garlic at hand will be extremely grateful for garlic powder. Indeed, it spices up many dishes and gives them that special something. The special flavor of garlic can be combined with meat, fish, pasta, vegetables, dips, and sauces.
Some love it, others hate it: cilantro, also known as coriander. In fact, there are some people for whom cilantro tastes like soap. About 14 % of all people have a genetic predisposition that causes olfactory receptors, which are also responsible for detecting the smell of soap, to perceive aldehyde chemicals differently. Since the taste of cilantro is determined by a variety of aldehydes, it is therefore not surprising that the smell and taste of cilantro is perceived as soapy.
Those who like the taste of cilantro can add it to Mexican dishes such as tacos or burritos, soups, and vegetable dishes. Likewise, cilantro is often added to tea and smoothies.
In a nutshell
If you do not have space in your kitchen to store a huge selection of spices, you will already have a solid base with the aforementioned choice of spices. With these, a variety of dishes can be flavored and refined. For those who would like to stock their spice rack according to typical national dishes, the following brief overview should be helpful. We hope you will have lots of fun while cooking and experimenting with spices!
Spices for German dishes:
Parsley, marjoram, dill, tarragon, bay leaf, rosemary, paprika, nutmeg, cloves, caraway.
Spices for Mediterranean dishes:
Oregano, basil, thyme, sage, fennel, chili.
Spices for Thai dishes:
Curry, cilantro, ginger, lemongrass, turmeric.
Spices for Oriental dishes:
Sumac, cardamom, cumin, fennel, cinnamon