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My Top 10 Herbs & Spices That Will Always be Useful in a Kitchen

Updated on September 2, 2015

There are many lists out there on what are the most used and absolutely necessary herbs and spices that any kitchen should have. But after spending some good years cooking and always trying new dishes and ways to cook, I have stocked my herbs & spices shelf with only what I found always necessary and at hand in any situation.

I’m a big gourmand and I like many different types of food that come from all parts of the globe and whenever I tried something specific at the restaurant, like Asian or Mexican food I have also tried to make them myself, at home. It’s because I like that feeling when I know I don’t depend on anyone when it comes to my favorite food and so, slowly I discovered a whole world when I met the spices and seasonings.

They are a tremendous help in the kitchen, regardless of what you’re cooking. I’d even say the food is nothing without its spices. If you’d just think of the tasteless and unattractive chicken breast you’ll know what I mean.

Baked in the oven or boiled, the chicken breast is not appealing at all, but if you add a bit of chili powder, some garlic sauce, tomato sauce etc. you will feel like you’re eating something entirely different and that’s the great power of herbs – they can enhance to the maximum each food’s potential.

Of course it greatly depends on the area you’re living to get inspired from the seasonings and spices you find and use, and it’s true in some countries you can’t find certain spices but you can definitely find their substitutes. Even so, the herbs & spices market is extremely big and there’s almost impossible to not find what you’re looking for. Nowadays, whatever you can’t find in a store you can find on-line, so thankfully that pressure is off and we can keep on exploring and discovering new tastes.

In my kitchen I have more than a dozen of different herbs and spices types and only 2 or 3 are used occasionally, the others I can honestly say I use them on a daily basis.

The salt and black pepper are omnipresent, almost like they’re encrypted in the DNA of any human being that cooks and eats; they’re the most popular spices in any kitchen around the world that give flavor to every type of both food dishes and sweets. I must admit that the garlic pepper I absolutely adore! I use it on almost anything, from devilled eggs to baked potatoes and cheese. It gives a special aroma from the equal parts of black pepper and garlic.

And these are the spices that in my opinion deserve a guaranteed spot on any kitchen shelf:

  1. The salt;
  2. Black pepper and its assortments like the white pepper, the garlic pepper or the lemon pepper.
  3. The chili powder and the chili peppers;
  4. The sweet Hungarian paprika and the hot Hungarian paprika – amazing for coloring and aromatizing the food at the same time. Not too spicy but not too sweet either, they’re just perfect in any type of sauce or baked foods.
  5. Fresh garlic and onions – best used sautéed in my kitchen, they make me dizzy with their smell and I consider them mandatory in any pantry.
  6. Ground mustard seeds and hot mustard paste – for all types of dips and salad dressings.
  7. Dried oregano – because of the high quantity of Italian dishes that I cook on a month, the oregano is priceless in my kitchen.
  8. Cinnamon - which I use quite often in pie recipes and in coffee based drinks like cappuccino.
  9. Curry - a more recent spice that I’ve came across and liked is the only one that suites my eggs and rice (and Thai recipes) best.
  10. As fresh herbs go, my favorites are dill and parsley for soups, borsches and stews.

All of these spices have been discovered and tested in many intense sessions of cooking, some successful and others not so successful but they’ve given me a clear picture on how many herbs & spices a cook needs around himself or herself, besides the proper tools and pans when they prepare the food.

Does your kitchen have different types of spices? If so I’d very much like to know about it because my love for herbs and spices and condiments goes well beyond this article.


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