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What would you consider are your 6 essential spices?

I had some new friends over the other evening for dinner and they were amazed by my collection of spices. Truth be told, I have gone way overboard but it started a good dinner table discussion about what we would consider our 5 or 6 essential spices.

What do you think? What are your 5 or 6 essential spices? Please keep in mind I am inquiring about spices not salt, for example. I look forward to hearing the replies!

I have edited the question so herbs are not specifically ruled out but what my guests and I were discussing were spices.

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  1. Cumin, white pepper, garlic powder are my favorites. My generic mixes are cajun and garam masalas. I'll vacate the last spot for my favorite pepper of the moment.

    1 Reply
    1. re: carrytheone

      In order (most to least) of amount used:

      Cumin
      Paprika
      Cayenne/chile powder
      Allspice
      Cardamom
      Pepper

      Cinnamon deserves an honourable mention.

    2. Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Allspice, Cloves, Chili Powder, Curry Powder; and pretty much in that order.

      Okay, separate list for herbs: Thyme, Rosemary, Basil, Oregano, Tarragon, in no particular order.

      I couldn't possibly winnow these 11 down to six.

      1. So tarragon, sage and dill won't count because they are herbs? If not, I favor chipotle powder, garlic powder (although I usually use fresh), cayenne, white pepper, Rendezvous seasoning from Memphis, and Penzey's sweet and hot curries.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Veggo

          I like fresh garlic and powdered. I'm weird like that.

          1. re: Veggo

            Veggo, I edited the query. It is interesting that you mentioned dill because that can be either a spice (dill seed) or an herb (dill weed).

          2. I'm glad you clarified that "spices" didn't include herbs and salt.

            Hmmm...

            Pepper
            Cinnamon
            Cumin
            Paprika
            Cardamom (not essential except for the fact that I love it)
            And one good curry blend

            I was going to say cayenne, except then I realized I could get along without cayenne or red pepper flakes if I had hot sauce.

            3 Replies
            1. re: Ruth Lafler

              I almost put cardamon in my list but as you say, not an essential in my kitchen. Just a lovely spice.

              1. re: carrytheone

                From discussions I've read on this board, it seems that cardamom is one of those flavors you either love or you hate. I wonder if it's genetic, like loving/hating cilantro.

              2. re: Ruth Lafler

                Based on that list my spice drawer must look a lot like yours.

                Just have to add "nutmeg" since I use it often in sauces and such.

                Pepper and paprika: I have more than one variety.

                I like to buy my spices "whole" and grate/grind as needed.

              3. Cumin, cinnamon, ancho chile powder, cardamom seed, smoked paprika, black pepper .