my brother wants whole spices for xmas that he can grind up in his spice grinder. what are some interesting things to get him? he loves to grill and spicy marinades.
black pepper corns
and for extra measure:
whole, dried chili peppers such as ancho
Second the cumin idea, because it's used in such a wide variety of cuisines. Also, try some whole dried chiles. I grind those in my spice grinder, and they're wonderful in rubs and marinades.