How To Use Spices

Different Cuisines & Spices to help you hit the mark in flavor every time. 

“Trust your heart, tune in. Your heart knows what flavors to use. “

“Herbs & Spices make it possible to not only to give bland food more flavor,
but to give them more varied flavors, to ornament foods and highlight flavor for flavor’s sake”

On Food and Cooking: The Science and the Lore of the Kitchen by Harold Mcgee, page 389


Here is a list of my favorite spices.

I always have them on hand in my spice cabinet:
Cinnamon
Ginger
Garlic Powder
Smoked Paprika
Cumin
Coriander
Curry
Turmeric
Black Pepper
Pink Salt
Oregano
Basil
Rosemary

Don’t forget about HERBS!!!
I love and always have these fresh herbs in my fridge:

Parsley
Cilantro
Green Onions

HOW TO USE THESE SPICES/HERBS

 The majority of the time, unless otherwise specified, I add my spices to my caramelized onions. 

  1. Dice an onion [or more if bulk cooking ] and add to a fry pan with coconut oil.
  2. Let onion cook and sweat for about 5-7 minutes until translucent.
  3.  Add a dash of Tamari or Bragg soya sauce to caramelize the onions.
  4. Let cook for another 2 minutes and then add all the spices to these onions.
  5. Stir it all together and then begin to add my veggies and grains / lentils if using almost immediately.

This is how I add a massive POP to flavor in nearly all my meals including soups, stews, stirfries, and one-bowl meals. 

ADDED NOTES:

  • For big family meals I use a lot more spice then you would think. Very similar as what is listed in spice groups below. Its always around 2 to 3 tablespoons of spices total. In a big stew or soup you really cannot go wrong.
  • Always taste and adjust accordingly. But remember, spices on their own are harsh and strong and do not taste good.It takes time and patience for flavor to develop.
     
  • Taste prior to serving and fix accordingly. I often add lemon, garlic powder or pink salt on top of my meals before serving.

When you feel fear…

Fear is often the first emotion we feel when we are new to cooking or when we are about to experiment with spices. This is why I wanted to make sure that I said, “its OK to feel the fear”.

The fear itself is not the problem. It is actually showing up because you have stepped out of your comfort zone… so good for you for taking this new and courageous step in cooking!

The biggest thing to remember when you feel fear is NOT to let the fear stop you. YOU are the power and strength beyond your fear, so something you can do when you feel the fear is to pause and reset your focus.

Remember that you want to learn to make food taste delicious and so its worth trying something new.

Also remember that every time you cook, you are getting better at it in every way. So tell yourself:
“I want to learn to cook nutritious and delicious food for me and my loved ones. Nothing, not even fear, will stand in my way. I’ve got this!!”. 

When you add too much spice…

The worst thing that can happen is you add to much spice.
There are a few things you can do when this happens:

1) If you notice you put too much right away, scoop it out with a spoon before you stir it.
2) You can always balance too much spice with some sweet (maple syrup, honey, cane sugar) or lemon. 
3) Add some water or tomato paste to thin or thicken whatever you are making.
4) Sometimes we think its too much at first, but when it sits and marinates, it turns out okay. So before you render it “ruined” be patient. Try a few of these tricks and see, in the end (and when others taste it), if it is in fact okay. Most of the time it is. 
5) If you really added too much and you think it’s unsalvageable, you might have to toss it and eat out or whip together a simple pasta with sauce. If you know what mistake you made, think about it, document it and learn from your mistakes so it never happens again.

Cuisines and their Spices

The amount of spices are optional and will vary. They are meant to give you a ball park of the amounts I would use for a meal that I make to serve 4 people. Search my recipes or google for full recipes.

INDIAN

2 tsp turmeric

1/2  cumin

1 tsp coriander

1 tsp curry 

4 garlic cloves, minced

2 tsp, ginger

Use these spices in…
Curry’s, rice dishes, stews, soups, eggs, burritos, certain pasta’s and more!

Added Note:
By far this is my favorite choice of spices. I will turn to them most often when experimenting and being creative. When you combine all these spices thats how you get your curry. But using them all individually, means you can perfect your own curry to your perfect taste!

I often use coconut milk or diced tomatoes and tons of lentils in these meals. 

 

ITALIAN

2 tsp oregano, dried

1 tsp basil, fresh or dried

1 tsp thyme, fresh or dried

1 tsp rosemary, fresh or dried

pinch red pepper chili flakes

Use these spices in…
Pasta’s all the way. 

Added Note:
 I also add  garlic and caramelized onions into my pastas for more nutrition and deliciousness!

Thyme I often use to bring flavor to boring old rice and black beans. Along side braggs soya sauce, garlic powder and fresh parsley it can be out of this world delish. 

For fresh herbs I always double the amount if not triple the dry. I also use some in the cooking process and some to sprinkle on top. 

MOROCCAN

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp turmeric

1 tsp ginger

1/2 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp cumin

Use these spices in…
Moroccan stews, soups, eggplant dishes, quinoas and stir fries. 

Added Note:
Appetizers and stews are my all time fav to make Moroccan flavored

THAI

1 tsp ginger, minced or powder

2-4 tbsp Peanut Butter

2 tsp garlic cloves, minced

2 tsp cilantro, fresh

lime

Use these spices in…
Thai curry’s, Thai pasta’s, soups and in Raw Thai cabbage salads. 

Added note:
Also use for added flavor:
1 can coconut milk
green or red curry paste
1 tsp lemongrass, diced small 

IMPORTANT NOTES ABOUT SPICES

  1. The spices/herbs in each cuisine can be used together or on their own.
  2. This is written to educate you on the different spices and herbs that are part of each cuisine.
  3. They are meant to be ideas that stoke the flames of your own creativity. They are not meant to be used as a “recipe” to follow per-say.
  4. They are meant to give you an overall idea of what to do with spices and how to group them together. 
  5. This is just the beginning, but looking at spices and herbs in this way expands your capacity to know what to cook and how.  
  6. When you are cooking, always taste your food, add more spice(s), herbs and salt to your perfect taste.

Final Note:  “Herbs are the leaves of the plant, while spices come from the roots, bark, and seeds. Essentially, any part of the plant that is not a leaf and can be used for seasoning would fall into the spice category.” [kitchn.com] I focus on spices in this section as I use them most often and they can be the most difficult to understand.
I predominately use dried herbs in my pasta’s but fresh herbs as a pretty (and yet not necessary) topping to any dish. Spices are the true flavoring agent in my eyes. 

Do you have a spices / herbs that you would like added to the list? Or know more about?  Let me Know