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sweetpotato Jul 18, 2010 06:55 PM

I just purchased a new beechwood spice rack and it has a lovely 48 containers.
I have about eight that are empty. I have been cooking for over 30 years so without giving you a long list, be aware that I have "the basics"...and then some. What I'm looking for is a dry ingredient I can add to my spice collection that is a bit off the beaten path, but that you use often.


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  1. nofunlatte RE: sweetpotato Jul 18, 2010 07:08 PM

    Expanding the "spice" category to include spice blends, I'd add za'atar, a middle eastern spice blend comprising sumac, thyme, sesame, salt. I like it as a flatbread topping and on vegetables (e.g. sauteed zucchini).

    1. goodhealthgourmet RE: sweetpotato Jul 18, 2010 07:40 PM

      +1 for za'atar.

      and speaking of blends...vadouvan is another good one if you cook a lot of Indian dishes, and shichimi togarashi for Japanese recipes.

      as far as single spices go, don't forget the smoked paprika!

      1. luckyfatima RE: sweetpotato Jul 18, 2010 07:55 PM

        I love zaatar, Kashmiri chile powder, dried mango powder, and chaat masala.

        1. Chemicalkinetics RE: sweetpotato Jul 18, 2010 07:56 PM


          What about garam masala ? Pretty popular spice blend. I can also see almond powder and walnut powder may be useful. Many love Sichuan pepper powder.

          1. greygarious RE: sweetpotato Jul 18, 2010 08:00 PM

            Ajwain, kalonji, fenugreek.

            1. r
              rainey RE: sweetpotato Jul 18, 2010 08:03 PM

              Diversify your chili collection. There are lots of flavors and heats beyond the basic blend.

              2 Replies
              1. re: rainey
                RoxyGrl RE: rainey Jul 18, 2010 11:05 PM

                2nd this. And on that note, it's amazing how many uses I have found for my Penzey's chipotle powder recently. Fabulous on a turkey/avocado sandwich, amazing mixed in butter and spread on corn that is then bbq'd in the husk, mixed in a dry rub, added to cornbread muffins with some grated sharp cheddar, etc, etc

                1. re: RoxyGrl
                  runwestierun RE: RoxyGrl Jul 18, 2010 11:30 PM

                  +2. Two things really brightened up my cooking this year
                  1) New and different curry pastes
                  2) New and different chili powders

              2. luckyfatima RE: sweetpotato Jul 19, 2010 05:25 AM

                sweetpotato can you tell us where you got this spice rack? I will be in the market for such an item soon and 48 containers sounds exceptional.

                1 Reply
                1. re: luckyfatima
                  sweetpotato RE: luckyfatima Jul 19, 2010 07:22 AM

                  I got it on Ebay, fatima. I put in the words "spice rack+carousel" and several came up.
                  It's a plain Beechwood rack with a lazy Susan carousel and the jars are plastic. I paid
                  around $130 for it and the shipping was free.

                2. Perilagu Khan RE: sweetpotato Jul 19, 2010 07:10 AM

                  Add to your pepper collection: smoked serrano, Urfa pepper, scotch bonnet, peri peri. Those are four that spring to mind, but I could add a dozen other exotic powdered peppers to that quartet.

                  1. tazia RE: sweetpotato Jul 19, 2010 07:21 AM

                    I adore my ancho chili powder. Especially as a vegetarian, it adds such a savory, smoky flavor that it's my go-to to perk things up. I get it at Penzey's.
                    Pimenton de la vera (smoked sweet paprika) is also pretty spectacular.
                    Cardamom I add to all sorts of unexpected baked goods. It adds another dimension to chocolate chip cookies, for example. I have both pods and ground.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: tazia
                      BerkshireTsarina RE: tazia Jul 19, 2010 09:28 AM

                      I second the ancho chili powder (also from Penzey's), and the pimenton. Come to think of it, also the cardamoms. Tazia and I must have twin kitchens ---- Also second za'atar and shichimi togarashii. And partial to Penzey's Special Extra Bold India peppercorns, and gumbo filé.

                    2. LindaWhit RE: sweetpotato Jul 19, 2010 09:21 AM

                      Aleppo pepper, ground sumac (the better to make your own za'atar!), star anise were the first I could think of.

                      7 Replies
                      1. re: LindaWhit
                        cajundave RE: LindaWhit Jul 19, 2010 02:16 PM

                        This place has some Spanish paprika that is hard to get anywhere. I like the bittersweet paprika. They have a good selection of chorizo and a really fantastic Cabernet Sauvignon Vinegar.


                        1. re: LindaWhit
                          cajundave RE: LindaWhit Jul 19, 2010 02:57 PM

                          Where did you get the Aleppo pepper? I have not tried it yet but heard good things, it's a middle eastern thing right?

                          1. re: cajundave
                            Perilagu Khan RE: cajundave Jul 19, 2010 03:19 PM

                            It's Turkish.

                            1. re: cajundave
                              LindaWhit RE: cajundave Jul 19, 2010 03:40 PM

                              Middle Eastern, yes...most aleppo peppers are grown in Syria.

                              As for where to get it? Penzey's. :-)

                              1. re: LindaWhit
                                cajundave RE: LindaWhit Jul 19, 2010 03:55 PM

                                Thanks Linda, love middle eastern food, just trying to step it up a notch.

                                1. re: cajundave
                                  LindaWhit RE: cajundave Jul 19, 2010 04:02 PM

                                  Check out their ground sumac as well (plus they have a ready-made za'atar mix as well). Penzey's opened up near me in the Boston area several years ago when they were opening up their first outside-of-their-area store, and it's a visit I make at least 4x a year. :-)

                                  1. re: LindaWhit
                                    cajundave RE: LindaWhit Jul 19, 2010 04:54 PM

                                    I am in a Chicago suburb and I just shopped at a great middle eastern store yesterday and I got sumac. I am trying to find the best recipe for Za'ater and then figure out what to put it on besides bread and hummus.

                                    I am making falafel tomorrow and looking to add something else to go with it.

                          2. Bada Bing RE: sweetpotato Jul 19, 2010 02:35 PM

                            I suggest you browse Penzeys or other sources online. There are some items that I hesitate to name because they might well be among your "basics" already. There I think of allspice, varieties of mustard seeds (yellow, black, brown), carraway, etc. For something that you probably do not have: Zingerman's out of Ann Arbor sells a rare item: fennel pollen, which I just checked, and they're now charging way more for it (more than I would pay now, frankly, but it's got a really cool licorice flavor):


                            Also, consider getting multiple containers of certain items. When I went into an Indian cooking kick after someone sent me a set of Indian spices from Penzeys, I ran out of garam masala way before any of the other speciality blends (like tandoori or vindaloo) because pretty much every recipe calls for garam masala. Other spices that I use in high quantity are chili powder, whole cumin, paprikas of various sorts, and whole coriander.

                            1. operagirl RE: sweetpotato Jul 19, 2010 02:50 PM

                              I absolutely LOVE ras el hanout, a Moroccan spice blend. It's wonderful on whole roast chicken, mixed into a paste with olive oil and rubbed liberally over the bird (along with some salt) a few hours before roasting.

                              1. bushwickgirl RE: sweetpotato Jul 21, 2010 06:11 AM

                                For something really different, try Grains of Paradise.

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