How to Build a Starter Spice Kit: For Every Kind of Cook

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I have many food obsessions. Spice has to be one of them. A serious one of them. I think I can safely say I am a collector of spices. At present, I have more than 70 in my possession. A whole kitchen cupboard has been given over to this particular food obsession. I’m always on the lookout for new and exciting flavours that will add to my dishes, give them that special something that only spice can bring. When I travel, I eat as much local cuisine as I can; the more exotic, the better. I dissect each mouthful to detect any possible spice addition -- a new one, one I don’t know about, the next in my collection. The next spice on my route to creating a new recipe or enhancing an existing one.

Spice Kit

I’m not a spice hoarder, though. They all get used; oh yeah, they get used all right. I can’t imagine life without these flavour makers. Every day, opening my spice cupboard is like opening a treasure chest. I feel like the hero in a pirate movie who opens the chest, and his face is lit up by the glow of the treasure inside. I am sure that my face glows with the prospect of the power of flavour at my fingertips.

I wasn’t always so au fait with my spices. There was a time when all I had was salt, pepper and some old, crusty spices, probably cinnamon and curry powder, which lurked at the back of a kitchen cupboard, seriously out of date. I’m not ashamed to admit that, I’m not a spice snob. I mean you have to start somewhere, right? So, this are my spice starter kits for those of you who have a feeling that your life may benefit from a little spice, but, are not sure where to begin.

For the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern Cook
Cinnamon Powder
Cardamom Pods and Powder
Cumin Powder and Cumin Seeds
Turmeric
Fennel Seeds
Chili Powder (or dried chiles)
Paprika Powder

For the Baker
Cinnamon Powder
Vanilla Pods (or Vanilla Extract--never essence)
Ground Ginger
Ground Nutmeg
Ground Cloves

For the Indian Curry Maker
Garam Masala
Turmeric
Cumin Powder and Seeds
Cardamom Pods and Powder
Coriander Powder
Black or Brown Mustard Seeds (never yellow)
Chili Powder (or dried chiles)

The Complete Collection
You’ll notice that there is some crossover in each collection, so, if you want to have the complete collection, here it comes:

Cinnamon Powder
Cardamom Pods and Powder
Cumin Seeds and Powder
Turmeric Powder
Fennel Seeds
Chili Powder (or dried chilis)
Paprika Powder
Vanilla Pods (or Vanilla Extract--never essence)
Ground Ginger
Ground Nutmeg
Ground Cloves
Garam Masala
Coriander Powder
Black or Brown Mustard Seeds (never yellow)

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