Two Dozen Must-Have Seasonings for Cultural Foodies

I have always enjoyed cooking. However, I do believe that my interest in experimenting with different seasonings emerged after writing an article years ago about the value of having different herbs and spices on hand in our kitchen. The information I gathered while interviewing people like Tony Hill (author of The Contemporary Encyclopedia of Herbs and Spices) and Rosie Daley (co-author of The Healthy Kitchen: Recipes for a Better Body, Life and Spirit) helped me complete that assignment, as well as taught me how to spice up the meals I enjoyed preparing for my family.

I know there are a lot of herbs and spices to select from in local grocery stores. However,  I believe we can create a lot of meals by simply having the below herbs and spices in our pantry or kitchen cabinet.

Allspice

  • Forms: Whole, ground
  • Often used to season: Savory stews, assorted meats, curries, desserts
  • Commonly found in these cuisines: Jamaican, Mexican, Latin American, Caribbean, Middle Eastern, North American

Basil

  • Forms: Fresh or dried leaves
  • Often used to season: Pesto, omelets, chicken, fish, burgers, pork, spaghetti sauce, pizza, pasta, rice, salad dressings, vegetables (e.g., green beans, potatoes, beans, cabbage, etc.)
  • Commonly found in these cuisines: Chinese, French, Italian, Nigerian, North American, Thai

Berbere

  • Forms: Ground
  • Often used to season: Stews, meat
  • Commonly found in these cuisines: This spice mix is often used to season Ethiopian and Eritrean dishes and contains such ingredients as cayenne pepper, paprika, cumin, fenugreek, ginger, and turmeric, among others.

Black Pepper/Peppercorns

  • Forms: Whole or ground*
  • Often used to season: Beef, chicken, fish, pork, stews, eggs, pasta, vegetables, salads. (Daley also suggested sprinkling it on oranges and dried mango.)
  • Commonly found in many different cuisines

Chives

  • Forms: Fresh or dried (chopped)
  • Often used to season: Fish, chicken, rice, potatoes
  • Commonly found in these cuisines: French, German and other cuisines

Cinnamon

  • Forms: Sticks or ground
  • Often used to season: Applesauce, oatmeal, carrots, sweet potatoes, pancakes (in the batter), lamb, desserts
  • Commonly found in these cuisines: Caribbean, Indian, Mexican, Moroccan, Vietnamese, North American, Portuguese

Cloves

  • Forms: Whole or ground
  • Often used to season: Meat, curries, desserts, hot beverages
  • Commonly found in these cuisines: Indian, Mexican, Caribbean, Vietnamese, North American

Coriander

  • Forms: Fresh leaves, whole seeds, or ground
  • Often used to season: Chicken, fish, curries, soups, stews, beans, pickles
  • Commonly found in these cuisines: Mexican, Latin American, Vietnamese, Indian

Crushed Red Pepper

  • Forms: Dried
  • Often used to season: Pizza, stews, soups, vegetables, pasta
  • Commonly found in Mediterranean and other cuisines

Cumin

  • Forms: Whole seeds or ground
  • Often used to season: Chicken, chili, tacos (ground beef, turkey or chicken), corn
  • Commonly found in these cuisines: Egyptian, Indian, Latin American, Mexican, Moroccan, Nigerian

Dill Weed

  • Forms: Fresh or dried (if used in hot dishes, add toward the end of the cooking process)
  • Often used to season: Beef, fish (especially salmon), chicken, stuffed eggs, potato salad, rice, vegetables (e.g., potatoes, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, and carrots)
  • Commonly found in these cuisines: German, Greek, Hungarian, North American, Swedish

Garlic Powder

  • Forms: Ground
  • Often used to season: Beef, chicken, pork, stews, green vegetables, pasta, garlic bread
  • Commonly found in these cuisines: Italian, Latin American, North American, Chinese, Middle East

Ginger

  • Forms: Ground or chopped
  • Often used to season: Stews, vegetables, desserts
  • Commonly found in these cuisines: Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Indian, Jamaican, Caribbean, Vietnamese

Herbes de Provence

  • Forms: Dried
  • Often used to season: Containing such ingredients as thyme and rosemary, among others, this herb mix is used to season chicken, fish, stews, vegetables (e.g., potatoes), etc.
  • Commonly found in these cuisines: French, North American and other cuisines

Marjoram

  • Forms: Fresh or ground
  • Often used to season: Beef, chicken, vegetables, stews, soups
  • Commonly found in these cuisines: Italian, Mediterranean and other cuisines

Nutmeg

  • Forms: Ground
  • Often used to season: Chicken, green vegetables, desserts, beverages
  • Commonly found in these cuisines: Italian, Dutch, North American

Onion (Granules/Ground)

  • Forms: Dried (chopped) or ground
  • Often used to season: Meat, chicken, vegetables (e.g., potatoes, green vegetables, etc.), salads, pasta, rice
  • Commonly found in many different cuisines

Oregano

  • Forms: Fresh (leaves), dried or ground
  • Often used to season: Egg salad, chicken, beef, meat loaf, pizza, spaghetti sauce, and vegetables (e.g., lima beans, cabbage, zucchini, and tomatoes)
  • Commonly found in these cuisines: Argentine, Filipino, Greek, Italian, North American, Spanish, Turkish

Parsley

  • Forms: Fresh or dried
  • Often used to season: Chicken, pork, rice, potatoes, pasta
  • Commonly found in these cuisines: North American, Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, North African, Brazilian

Rosemary

  • Forms: Fresh or dried leaves
  • Often used to season: Meatballs, Italian pasta dishes (lasagna and spaghetti), scrambled eggs, lamb, chicken, fish, pork, and vegetables (e.g., corn, roasted potatoes, zucchini, stewed tomatoes, and green beans).
  • Commonly found in these cuisines: French, Greek, Italian, North American, Spanish

Salt

  • Forms: Ground (fine, coarse)
  • Often used to season: Assorted savory foods (e.g., meats, vegetables, pasta, rice, etc.), as well as some desserts
  • Commonly found in many different cuisines

Smoked Paprika

  • Forms: Ground
  • Often used to season: Chicken, fish, vegetables, stews, soups, rice
  • Commonly found in these cuisines: Hungarian, North American and other cuisines

Thyme

  • Forms: Fresh or dried
  • Often used to season: Beef, poultry, fish, lamb, vegetables, pasta, soups, stews
  • Commonly found in these cuisines: North American, French, Italian, Mediterranean, Middle Eastern

Turmeric

  • Forms: Ground
  • Often used to season: Chicken, fish (salmon), stews, rice
  • Commonly found in these cuisines: Indonesian, Filipino, Thai, Vietnamese

*If you desire to grind up peppercorns on your own, experts suggest that you use a mortar and pestle or an electric coffee mill.

Post updated July 9, 2020

Please leave a reply below.

%d bloggers like this: