New Spices for Your Spice Rack

These staples will spice up any last-minute dinner

Ethiopian Berbere

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 flavor 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.

— julievr, Babble


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 Merchant



Brilliant yellow turmeric is what gives rice dishes their lively color. 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 Merchant)


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 Merchant)


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 flavor.


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 Merchant)


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