Seasoning with spices can be intimidating, especially if the recipe doesn’t call for it or only calls for a certain amount. It takes practice, but by understanding the flavors of spices, and tasting their unique flavors, you’ll know how to flavor up any meals with any kind of spice. So bust out those spices that are hiding in your cupboard, and get ready to spice up your meals!
Spice Up Your Cooking
To learn how to maximize flavor in your cooking, we’ll start off by diving into the exciting world of spices. What makes spices so exciting? Let’s use the analogy of an artist. You as the cook are the artist and your spices are your paints – they can bring a blank canvas (or dish) to life! They allow you to be creative and adventurous with your cooking and best of all, they prevent you from eating another bland meal. 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.
Seasoning with spices can be intimidating if you’re not familiar with it, but – like painting – with the right tools and practice, you’ll be cooking up a masterpiece in no time.
We created our Guide to Flavoring with Spices infographic to show you some of the most common spices that are hiding in your cupboard and how to use them. This chart will give you an idea of the flavor each spice will add to your meal, what spices go well together, and what foods to add them to.
Create Flavors from Around the World in Your Own Kitchen
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 spices native to Mexican cuisine – cumin, coriander, oregano, garlic powder, cinnamon, chili powder – 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 more spices native to that cuisine to achieve your desired taste. Just by knowing ethnic spice combinations, you’ll be able to whip up dishes from all over the world!
Remember, becoming a culinary artist takes practice, so don’t be afraid to experiment, trust your tastebuds, and get cooking!