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Stocking your spice rack

The herbs and spices aisle in your grocery store can be very intimidating: there are so many tiny jars, and it’s hard to know which ones you will need. Certainly many of them are one-off specialty items that you should only buy when you really need them for a specific recipe, but many of them appear frequently in recipes and are worth having in advance so that you can be flexible and a bit impulsive in your cooking.

Here are the ones worth keeping handy:

Dried herbs:

  • Thyme.
  • Oregano.
  • Basil.
  • Sage.
  • Rosemary.
  • Tarragon.
  • Bay leaves.
  • Chives.
  • Dill.
  • Optional: coriander seeds, marjoram, caraway seeds.

Spices:

  • Black pepper.
  • Red (cayenne) pepper. Both ground and flakes.
  • Chili pepper.
  • Paprika.
  • Cinnamon (ground). You can also buy stick cinnamon, but it’s rarely used for cooking.
  • Turmeric and/or curry powder (curry powder is a mix of turmeric and black pepper).
  • Cumin.
  • Cloves. Both whole and ground.
  • Mustard.
  • Nutmeg. You can buy it ground, or buy it in whole nuts and grate it yourself.
  • Optional: allspice, cardamom, garam masala, vanilla beans.

Aromatics:

  • Ginger (ground).
  • Garlic powder.
  • Onion powder.
  • Sesame seeds (white).