Top Five Favourite Spice Blends and Where to Use Them

Using a wide variety of different spices is probably the easiest way to elevate your cooking. Having access to various spice blends can make this a much easier process then whipping up a mix on the go. Here are the top five of my favourite spice blends that I reach for multiple times a week if not daily. Make a spice blend from scratch or buy one from the grocery store.  

He who controls the spice controls the universe.

Frank Herbert, Dune

Having a well-stocked spice rack may not give you control over the universe as it does in Herber’s sci-fi classic, but it will certainly make you the master of your kitchen. Especially if you know how to use them. I personally am a little ashamed by the state of my spice drawer and cabinet, it is quite messy, but I need all of them. To simplify my cooking process and limit the time I waste searching for one spice I have started using a lot of spice blends. Some of those I mixed myself and some I picked up at the grocery. You can do that however you like. I like making my own whenever I can because this way I can control the sodium (usually I add that to taste later on), sugar and cornstarch content in the mix. Here are some of my favourites, certainly not the only ones I use throughout the week. 

1. Fajita/Taco/Burrito Seasoning

Roasted Cauliflower Burrito

    This seasoning mix you can use to make fajitas, tacos and burritos. You can use it on meat and vegetables. I have used it to make some very delicious, slightly spicy patatas bravas. It is also very delicious on roasted cauliflower. Add salt to taste. 

Fajita/Taco/Burrito Seasoning

  • 1 tbl chili powder
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • ¼ tsp cayenne
  • salt to taste

2. Curry Powder

Thai Red Curry

    Curry powder is probably a foreign concept in India, where the spices are usually first toasted whole before they crush them with a mortar and pestle. Now there are a wide variety curry spice blends you can use to make curries from all over the world. Here are a few. 

Garam Masala 

  • 1 tbl ground cumin
  • 1 ½ tsp coriander
  • 1 ½ tsp ground cardamom
  • 1 ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground cloves
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp ground allspice
  • salt to taste

Thai Curry

  • 2 tsp chili powder 
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp dried basil (Thai basil if you have access to that)
  • 1 tsp parsley
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp cayenne
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg  
  • salt to taste

Caribbean Curry

  • 3 tbl desiccated coconut (toasted)
  • 3 tbl coriander
  • 1 tbl curcuma
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp ground black mustard seeds (replace with other mustard powder if necessary, less pungent)
  • 1 tsp cayenne
  • 1 tsp garlic
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • salt to taste

3. Five Spice/Asian Seasoning

    What would a noodle stir fry even be without some classic five spice? This Asian classic, that you can still adjust to your own taste with additional ingredients such as ginger, is not just for stir fries. Use it to marinate/ glaze meat (with some honey and/or soy sauce), make sauces or soups and stew.  

Five Spice

  • 2 tbl ground star anise
  • 1 ½ tbl ground fennel seeds
  • 2 tsp ground szechuan peppercorns
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves
  • salt to taste

4. Gyro/Greek Seasoning

    Another seasoning blend usually used for meat that is then roasted with rotisserie, hence the name gyro. You can throw it in any kind of meat and grill or fry it. You can also use it to roast potatoes and cauliflower. Tastes best served with coleslaw and flatbread. 

Gyro Seasoning

  • 3 tbl oregano
  • 3 tbl thyme
  • 2 ½ tbl paprika
  • 1 tbl smoked paprika
  • 2 tbl black pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • salt to taste

5. Pinchito Seasoning

Pinchitos are Spanish meat skewers, usually grilled or fried, seasoned with a spice blend called pinchito de muro. I literally made this by tasting the dried seasoning blend I bought in the South of Spain, where my family is from, and replicating the favour. Don’t say it at the Madrid airport, they’ll think you want to stab someone. They almost detained my mother because she kept it in her hand luggage. It is really delicious, the spice has a strong oriental influence with the curcuma and cumin. You can use it to season any meat, but I have also used it in rice bowls and stir fries.     

Pinchito Seasoning

  • 8 tsp curcuma
  • 4 tsp cumin
  • 3 tsp oregano
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 ½ ground anise
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp cayenne 
  • ½ tsp ground cloves
  • salt to taste

Well, there you have more than five different spice blends that can not only elevate your cooking but also add a little diversity to the dishes you have already been making. Having a spice blend to grab can make weekday cooking a much easier process, I usually have all of these at the front of the spice cabinet. I can just grab them as needed and roast them a little as I am cooking so they become more aromatic. I added the recipes for the spice blends I use, but sometimes I pick a ready made spice blend up from the grocery store. That is such a fun and tasty way to explore a different cuisine. I hope you enjoyed this blog post and have a great day. Stay safe and wear a mask! 

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