Spices serve several purposes in cooking and can be used to:
- Add Flavor and Aroma. Spices can transform a meal by adding a range of flavors, from a hint of sweetness to a kick of heat. They also give beautiful aromas that are often our first determining factor for whether we want to eat a meal or not.
- Enhance taste of food. We always think of salt as our go-to when a meal tastes too bland, but there are other spices, like cumin, that bring out the natural flavors of food.
- Change or enhance color. If you’ve ever eaten at an Indian restaurant you may have noticed that many of the dishes have a deep yellow, orange or red color. That’s because the spices used in typical Indian cooking, such as turmeric and paprika, give color to the foods making them more bright and appealing.
Along with standalone spices, there are also a variety of spice blends that combine complementary spices to create a whole new flavor. While you can recreate each of these spice blends on your own, sometimes it’s nice to have the masters make some mixes for you. We recommend picking 2 or 3 depending on your favorite ethnic cuisines.
Many ethnic cuisines are distinguished by the spices used in preparing them. If you’re trying to make a Mexican dish, try using the spices found in the “Mexican” section of the infographic below to create those traditional Mexican food flavors you love. If you’re following a recipe for an ethnic dish and the result is too bland, try adding in more of the spices in the respective section to achieve your desired taste.
With these spice combinations, you’ll be whipping up dishes from all over the world!