Your spice cabinet may be filled with everything you thought you’d ever need, but perhaps it’s time to cook with more than the spices you always reach for. By integrating more exotic and compelling spices into your spice rack, you can work complex layers of flavor into your dishes, whether you’re slow-roasting a rack of lamb, simmering a curry or setting a tray of vegetables in the oven. With just a few pinches (or teaspoons if we’re getting really accurate) of these spices and spice blends, your dishes will be ignited with some serious chef worthy flavor.
1. Garam Masala
An aromatic blend of ground spices rooted in North Indian and South Asian cuisines, garam masala literally translates to “warm spice mix.” A typical recipe for Garam Masala can include cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, peppercorns, nutmeg and caraway, but there are many regional variations of this warming mix of spices. When Aarti Sequeira makes her Chicken Tikka Masala (pictured above), for instance, sauteing the garam masala in the skillet draws out the fragrance of the spice so it’s woven into every layer of the creamy tomato curry. Though you can use it to reproduce some of your Indian takeout favorites, you can also use this warming mix to bring marinades, sautes, meats and more to life.