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12 New Spices for Your Spice Rack

Kitchens are opening up to the world’s cuisines – we’re far beyond the days of dried basil and oregano, when bay leaves and curry powder were about as exotic as you got in the grocery store spice aisle. With a boost in ethnic diversity and an increased demand for exotic ingredients at home, more and more spices are becoming available, and boutique spice shops are popping up for those interested in sourcing the very best. Spices – and spice blends – are a great way to boost flavour in your cooking without adding fat or calories – finding a few great ones can add depth to everything from meat to veggies to beverages. Here are a dozen you may not be familiar with – all are worth getting to know a little better.


  • Star Anise 1 of 12
    Star Anise
    Native to China and Vietnam, star anise is the fruit of an evergreen magnolia tree. It's stunningly beautiful - a hard star-shaped pod, it is often ground and used in spice blends like garam masala, Chinese five-spice powder and chai. Try simmering whole star anise in tea or lemonade concentrate, or steep in cream before whipping it or making creme brûlée or ice cream. (Some info from
    Silk Road Spice Merchants!)
  • Turmeric 2 of 12
    Turmeric
    Brilliant yellow turmeric is what gives rice dishes its lively colour. A member of the ginger family, its rhizomes are boiled and then dried in hot ovens before being ground into a deep orange-yellow powder. Turmeric is delicious in rice dishes, with eggs, in curries and tagines, and even when making sweet butter pickles. (Some info from
    Silk Road Spice Merchants!)
  • Black Cardamom 3 of 12
    Black Cardamom
    Rough, smoky (a result of drying over open flame) black cardamom doesn't resemble its green counterpart; it's often used in spice blends like garam masala, and adds depth to braised meats in Chinese cuisine. (Source:
    Silk Road Spice Merchants!)
  • Allspice Berries 4 of 12
    Allspice Berries
    Allspice is a familiar addition to gingerbread and other aromatic baked goods, but they're often unrecognized in dried berry form. Buy allspice berries and grind them yourself - or simmer whole in dishes like mulled cider (remove them before serving) - for the best flavour.
  • Ethiopian Berbere 5 of 12
    Ethiopian Berbere
    This multipurpose Ethiopian/North African spice blend is available made with whole spices or ground into a fine powder; it might contain ginger, fenugreek, chiles, cumin, coriander and cloves. Try it in stews, or as a dry rub for meats destined for the grill. (Source:
    Silk Road Spice Merchants!)
  • Cocoa Nibs 6 of 12
    Cocoa Nibs
    Not really a spice per se, cocoa nibs are bits of chopped, roasted, fermented cocoa beans with a true bitter chocolate flavour. Try them stirred into cookies or cakes.
  • Green Cardamom 7 of 12
    Green Cardamom
    Popular in India for 2000 years, cardamom is a versatile spice, enhancing both sweet and savoury dishes. You'll find it in rice puddings and chai, but also in European and Scandinavian baked goods. Shell and grind dry pods for the best flavour. (Some info from
    Silk Road Spice Merchants!)
  • Urfa Biber 8 of 12
    Urfa Biber
    "Biber" is Turkish for chile, and these crushed Urfa chiles are a dark purply-black and slightly oily, with an intense smoky depth and moderate heat. Use them in rice dishes, stews and anywhere you want a deep, dark flavour and a touch of heat - or try pairing them with dark chocolate. (Source:
    Silk Road Spice Merchants!)
  • Ras el Hanout 9 of 12
    Ras el Hanout
    A wonderfully fragrant Moroccan spice blend, ras el hanout translates as "top of the shop," and the mixture includes up to 30 (or more) of a spice merchant's best ingredients. Try it as a dry spice rub for grilled meats, tossed with potatoes before roasting, adding to rice and couscous, and of course in Moroccan dishes such as their famous stew-like tagines. (Source:
    Silk Road Spice Merchants!)
  • Turkish Baharat 10 of 12
    Turkish Baharat
    he word "baharat" simply means "spice" in Arabic, and it refers to a variety of spice mixtures that are common throughout North Africa and many Middle Eastern countries. Baharat blends vary by region, though most contain several common ingredients like pepper, paprika, cinnamon, clove and nutmeg. It's especially good for grilling, and often served at the table to season dishes as you might use salt and pepper. (Source:
    Silk Road Spice Merchants!)
  • Garam Masala 11 of 12
    Garam Masala
    Similar to a traditional curry blend, garam masala is made up of a number of spices - the types and quantities depend on the cook and/or region. It tends to have a milder, more floral flavour - try it on everything from eggs to fish to potatoes, and to add further depth to curry dishes. (Some info from
    Silk Road Spice Merchants!)
  • Lime Leaves 12 of 12
    Lime Leaves
    Leathery fresh or dry lime leaves (sometimes called "kaffir lime leaves") is a key ingredient in many Thai and Southeast Asian dishes - try simmering a couple in a Thai curry or soup to infuse it with flavour - remove them before eating. (Some info from
    Silk Road Spice Merchants!)

Having trouble finding good-quality spices? All the spices in the slideshow are available to order from Silk Road Spices – great flavour delivered to your door!

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