7 Essential Herbs and Spices You Need in Your Pantry
A spice cabinet is a magical place full of exotic ingredients that add depth and flavor to recipes from curries to taco night. These ingredients are not relegated to just flavoring food, though. Herbs and spices have medicinal properties that can heal, soothe, and nourish our bodies.
Did you know some herbs and spices have a number of health benefits? Herbs and spices not only add great flavor to your recipes but can also help fight inflammation, boost your immune system, support healthy digestion, and so much more. The following are the 7 essential herbs and spices you need in your pantry.
- Black peppercorns
The sweet, slightly bitter, and spicy peppercorns share the fact that they are often added to dishes as accent flavors, but black peppercorns are also useful for finishing, brining, or pickling spices. In her book, “The 7-Sensory Experience,” chef Rachel Ray says peppercorns can be used to add both aroma and flavor and that it is essential to have peppercorns on your spice rack.
- Chili powder
Chili powder is a staple spice in many kitchens, and it is sometimes used for more than just beef and beans. It is an excellent spice to use for different ingredients, from curries to pizza to desserts. It can give that kick to dishes which may be lacking without it. It is great for people who have a varied pallet and love to feel and taste the spice in their food.
- Ground cumin
Cumin has a warm, earthy flavor that can level up a dish, but must be used in moderation as it can overtake the flavor of a dish. It has many culinary uses, including seasoning meats, vegetables, and rice. Ground cumin is the dried seed of the cumin plant, native to southern Arabia and the Mediterranean region. Cumin is also a noted ingredient in many Indian curries and chutneys.
- Ground coriander
Ground coriander is often called dhaniya in Hindi or black cumin. It is an herb that is native to tropical Africa. It is a member of the parsley family, and though it has a similar flavor and aroma to cumin, it is slightly sweeter. This spice adds an earthy flavor to curries and is a popular ingredient in some Middle Eastern and North African dishes, such as lamb merguez and couscous.
- Ground cinnamon
The aromatic quills of the trees can easily be scraped off the bark or harvested when the bark is already dry. Ground cinnamon has a sweet, warm flavor and is common in many American and European desserts, such as pastries, cakes, and cookies.
- Bay leaves
Bay leaves are a spice that has been around for thousands of years and are used in all kinds of savory dishes—especially fish. They have long been used to flavor many different kinds of foods and are also commonly used to flavor tea, wine, and liquor. You may have seen them on top of some dishes as a garnish to add an aesthetic display, as well as be used for flavor.
- Crushed red pepper
One popular option is crushed red pepper. The spice is readily available at grocery stores, and it is commonly used as a condiment for Italian meals, but it can also be used in a variety of other dishes. The red pepper is abundant in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, helping to balance out your diet.
Spices add zest to food, aromas to our environment, and zest to our lives. Spices are not just flavor enhancers. They are rich sources of essential nutrients, many with powerful medicinal properties. So, getting to know some of the seven herbs and spices you need in your pantry is important for your health.