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7 Herbs and Spices You Should Keep at Home

Updated on March 21, 2013

Cooking is more exciting with the use of herbs and spices for flavoring. I find the natural flavors more appealing rather than the umami taste brought by MSGs and artificial seasonings. There are a lot of herbs and spices (I mean, A LOT!) out there. Mostly, I haven't even tried. But the ones I always have in my kitchen are already great help with my cooking.

Here are the 7 herbs and spices I always have on stack.

Garlic and Onions.

Garlic is the magic bulb that I always use. Whether stir-fried, stew, baked or for marinades, I find it hard to cook without them. I usually crush and chop them a few minutes before cooking so they may release their flavors and aroma. In some dish however, like a slow-cooked fish stew, I just bruise the garlic a little and put them straight to the pot. This creates a cheesy flavor to the garlic.

Onions on the other hand, I use in cooking saute'd vegetables, pork and chicken. They're also good in making sauces for fried fish. Onions give out a sweet, spicy flavor to the dish. Red onions are good for saute's and stir-fries. White onions are good in making soups. Green onions, on the other hand, I use for noodle dish, whether with or without soups.

Be careful, though. The allium compound of the onions may trigger teardrops from your eyes. The trick is to put salt nearby (the salt absorbs the chemicals released by the onions), or chill the onions first before cutting them open, or put the onions aside after cutting them so it won't get in your eyes.


I use ginger mostly in cooking fish and pork innards. Ginger has a very strong flavor that it takes away the stench of the fish. It also works with chicken. Ginger is actually great for chicken soup.

Black pepper corns
Black pepper corns
Basil leaves.
Basil leaves.


Black or white pepper powder, pepper corns, green or red peppers - these are most of the peppers I use in seasoning my dish. Peppers add a good kick to a meal. Cooking peppers actually give out more flavor rather than just sprinkling them to an already cooked meal.


I use fresh basil in cooking steamed mussels. Basil leaves can also be used in so many pasta dishes. As long as you have cherry tomatoes and olive oil, you can make a pasta dish with basil together with spinach, broccoli or even kale.

Paprika powder.

If you want your dish to be colorful, put a dash of paprika powder. It also adds texture to the dish. It's not as spicy as you'd think paprika would be. I use it in pasta meals, slow-cooked pork ribs and in cooking adobo, a well-known Filipino dish.

Dried paprika.

Aroma and spice is what dried paprika gives out. I usually put dried paprika on my pasta recipes.

Dill tips.

Dill tips are good in soups and salads.

Other Natural Flavors in the Kitchen

I always have cinnamon at home; however, I don't use it for cooking. We only use cinnamon for our hot drinks and in making cinnamon tea. And oh!, by the way, ginger can also be used in making tea. Ginger tea is great for indigestion, sore throats and colds.

Lime and lemons are also always in the fridge. They make a good salad base with olive oil, honey and just a dash of salt. Lemons and fish sauce is also the perfect condiment for a spicy fish stew dish.

I never ran out of tomatoes, too. If you saute' tomatoes together with garlic and onions, just add egg and you'll make a delicious omelet. Tomatoes are also very easy to cook. They go with almost all kinds of dish, just like the onions.


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    • beingwell profile image

      beingwell 4 years ago from Bangkok

      Hmm, will keep you posted on that aviannovice! Thanks for your visit.

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Beautiful information of some of our basic foods and spices. I adore different cultures and the ways that these items are used. I consider myself something of a gourmet cook, and would love to learn more about Thai cooking. I would actually love to learn how to make a good peanut sauce, and more basic information to learn how to cook more authentic dishes. Any upcoming hubs on Thai cooking?

    • beingwell profile image

      beingwell 4 years ago from Bangkok

      That's great to hear, moonlake. Dill tips can be used in pickling? Wow, I didn't know that! Thanks!

    • moonlake profile image

      moonlake 4 years ago from America

      My pantry has all the spices you mentioned. We also use dill tips in pickling cucumbers. Voted up.

    • beingwell profile image

      beingwell 4 years ago from Bangkok

      Hi vespawoolf! Yeap, ginger really take out the "fish"-y smell of them fish!hihihi...

    • vespawoolf profile image

      vespawoolf 4 years ago from Peru, South America

      I also keep many of these items in my kitchen. I like your tip for using ginger when cooking fish. I also find tomatoes and onions are handy in a pinch. Thank you!

    • beingwell profile image

      beingwell 4 years ago from Bangkok

      Thanks vibesites! Good to know you have these spices!

    • vibesites profile image

      vibesites 4 years ago from United States

      I have almost all of the spices mentioned. They're indispensable to my kitchen. Thanks for your wonderful and practical information. Voted up and useful. :)

    • beingwell profile image

      beingwell 4 years ago from Bangkok

      Wow! Those are a lot of herbs and vegetables growing in your garden. I hope to do the same in the future. How I'd love just picking ingredients from my own produce! That would be grand!

    • beingwell profile image

      beingwell 4 years ago from Bangkok

      Thanks claudia. I'm glad you enjoyed the photos. I'm a big fan of chili, too by the way. If you live in Thailand, you can't help but to learn to love 'em.

    • beingwell profile image

      beingwell 4 years ago from Bangkok

      Hi there billybuc! I have other herbs at home which I don't often use. hahaha! My thyme and rosemary have been hanging in the cupboards for months. I just don't know what to do with them.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 4 years ago from Houston, Texas

      We always keep these herbs and spices in our home...and even more. Right now I have to plant some more fresh basil plants in our garden. It dies back over winter but we still have these growing in our backyard...rosemary, parsley, thyme, mint, chives, garlic chives, oregano and a bay laurel bush.

      Fresh tomatoes, garlic and onions are a must as are lemons and limes. Can't wait for our lemon and orange tree that we planted last Fall to begin giving us fresh fruit. The orange tree is in full bloom and the lemon tree already has some little lemons forming as well as blossoms.

      Sounds like we like similar things for use in our kitchens. Voted up and useful!

    • Claudia Tello profile image

      Claudia Tello 4 years ago from Mexico

      I agree with you in that herbs and spices can turn almost every meal into something nice and tasteful. They are the magic powder of cooks. Personally, I love garlic and onion, but I must confess I don't use paprika and ginger as much as I probably should! I live in Mexico and normally use coriander and chili instead (be it jalapeño, chipotle, chile de árbol, serrano, etc....).

      I absolutely loved your pictures by the way, nice hub!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Great information and thank you! We have several of these but not the I need to go buy some. :)