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The world of spices is vast, and chefs are always looking for new ways to make their food more flavorful. There are many different types of spices from around the world that chefs love using in their cooking. They add flavor and complexity to dishes, and can really enhance the overall taste. Many celebrity chefs in their monogrammed chef coats and professional women’s or men’s chef aprons to more casual chefs in unisex shorts, they all have their favorite spices and herbs which they use in their dishes, from garlic to ginger and paprika, to even things like lemon myrtle.


Here are some of the most popular spices that chefs love using in their cooking.

Garlic: Garlic is a very versatile spice that can be used in both savory and sweet dishes. It is a staple ingredient in many cuisines, including Italian, French and Indian cuisine. Garlic has a strong flavor which can add depth to dishes.


Cumin: Cumin is another popular spice that is used in many different cuisines. It has a slightly earthy flavor and is often used in curries and stews.


Paprika: Paprika is a type of powdered chili pepper that has a mild but spicy flavor and is ideal when making stews and sauces.


Turmeric: Turmeric is a popular spice in Asian cuisine which has an earthy flavor and bright yellow color. It is perfect for adding some extra zing to curries or rice dishes.


Saffron: Saffron is the most expensive type of spice because it takes around 80,000 crocus flowers to make just one pound of saffron. The delicate purple threads impart a sweet but slightly bitter taste to food, making them ideal for paella and risotto.


Salt: Salt isn't actually a spice as such, but we definitely couldn't leave it out! Chefs often prefer specialized sea salt crystals over table salt thanks to their smaller size; this means they dissolve better and offer a much better flavor. Salt is used to enhance other flavors in food, and it is also great for bringing out the natural sweetness of vegetables.


Sesame: Sesame seeds are a common ingredient in East Asian cuisine, where they are used to add a nutty flavor and crunchy texture to dishes. They can be either black or white, and are often toasted before use.


Star anise: Star anise has a sweet but slightly licorice-like taste that works well in both savory and sweet dishes. It comes from an evergreen tree native to China, and is often used in Chinese five spice powder.


Cinnamon: The best cinnamon in the world is from Sri Lanka, where it flourishes in the moist climate. Cinnamon can be added to many types of dishes such as desserts, curries and stews.


Cloves: Cloves are the dried flower buds of a tree that is native to Indonesia but is also grown in other Asian countries. They have a sweet and pungent taste, and are often used in Christmas baking or mulled wine.


Cardamom: Cardamom is a common ingredient used to flavor Indian food and tea. It is actually part of the ginger family. The seeds are dried, roasted, and ground up into powder before cooking or baking with them. This helps bring out their natural oils for maximum flavor.


Coriander: Coriander gives dishes an earthy taste that complements sweet flavors well, so you often find it paired with cinnamon or cumin in baked goods like cakes and breads. You can buy both whole coriander seeds (which look like tiny versions of caraway) as well as ground coriander powder which is more convenient but less fresh-tasting as it is dried and powdered.


Cumin: Another popular spice used in Indian cooking, cumin is earthy and peppery with a slightly bitter taste. It is often paired with coriander as well as chili powder to create that iconic Mexican flavor profile. You can buy it whole or ground, depending on your preference.


Fennel: Fennel has a sweet licorice-like taste and is used both fresh and dried in cooking. It pairs especially well with fish dishes, so if you are looking for a way to add some extra zing to your seafood, try incorporating some fennel into the recipe.


Ginger: Like garlic, while ginger is also a root, it has its own distinct taste. It is warm and spicy with some citrus notes, so you will find ginger in many Asian recipes like soups or stir-fries. You can buy fresh ginger at the grocery store but if you plan on using it regularly to cook, we recommend picking up a jar of ground ginger instead as it will keep for longer.


Pepper: What would cooking be without pepper! There are many different types of pepper, but black pepper is the most popular. It has a strong taste and is used in both savory and sweet dishes. You will find it in everything from curries to desserts.


Cilantro: Cilantro is an herb that is often used in Mexican or Thai cuisine. It has a very distinct flavor, some people love it, others hate it. If you are not sure if you like it or not, start by using just a little bit and then add more as needed.


Spices can make your food taste better and more exciting, but they are also an important part of our history. Whether you are trying to spice up a dish or learn about the world around us, buying spices from different countries is worth it.



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