7 'Exotic' Spices Every Kitchen Should Have

Posted by Miranda Marquit on August 18, 2014 (0 Comments)

The right spices can flavor your food in ways that transport you out of yourself. One of the things I love about cooking and eating food is the ability to get a taste of another culture or locale. Without leaving your kitchen, you can travel the world.

If you are looking to add a little more global flavor to your meals, here are 7 exotic spices to add to your cabinet:

1. Turmeric

This spice is common in South Asian dishes, and can add a little bit of slightly different oomph to your cooking. It’s a common ingredient in curry, so if you like curry, it’s a must-have. But you can also use it in baking to add a little different flavor to bread products, or stir it into plain yogurt.

2. Cumin

Use cumin to add a different flavor to meats, as well as to legumes. While this is a spice often used in Turkish cooking, it’s also a great addition to Mexican-inspired dishes. I like to mix cumin in with my carne asada or ground beef when making tacos. I also like using it to make chicken tacos.

3. Lemon grass

You can use lemon grass in Thai dishes, and it’s also great with any type of poultry. You can also use it with fish, particularly white fishes. It’s a great complement to a variety of dishes, and is even thought to have health benefits.

4. Ginger

It’s surprising the number of kitchens that don’t include ginger in their spice racks. Part of that is because ginger is often associated with baked goods, like breads and cookies. However, ginger can be used exotically to flavor poultry. Look for chicken recipes that include ginger for a unique and interesting entree.

5. Anise

Anise is most often associated with the “black licorice” flavor. You can use anise to make interesting desserts (look for a cake recipe that includes anise), but it can also be used to create chicken stock for soups and gravies. Combine with ginger to create an amazing poultry dish.

6. Tarragon

Use French tarragon for a bolder flavor. Add it to soups and stews to bring a more exotic feel to your soup. You can also use it in sauces for poultry, or even add it to a salad to add a little better flavor to your greens.

7. Paprika

If you want to spice up your food, add paprika. It’s great in marinades and rubs, if you want to add a bit of spice. Hungarians use it in stews and goulash, and that can be a good option as well.

With a little creativity, you can use these lesser-known spices to take your cooking up a notch, and even evoke the exotic in your own home.

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