The past year has been a rollercoaster ride, to say the least. All over the world, people were placed on varying degrees of lockdown. Some people are still under heavy restrictions. But, if there’s one positive the pandemic has created, it’s the fact that more people are developing new hobbies and learning new skills from home. One of those skills that have become increasingly popular over the last year is cooking. In the U.S. alone, it’s estimated that 17% of restaurants had to close permanently due to COVID. In places like the U.K. where lockdowns have been on and off, that number could go even higher. So, cooking at home has become a stress relief for some, and a necessity for others.
If you’re just getting started as a home cook, it can feel a little intimidating at first. But, there are plenty of ways to make it easy on yourself. To make any dish as flavorful as possible, you need the right spices on hand. So, we’ve got you covered with four essential pantry spices (excluding salt – you should always use plenty of salt!) that will make sure your homemade dishes are packed with flavor.
If you love Mexican or Indian food, cumin will be a go-to spice. You can usually either find it pre-ground or as whole cumin seeds, which can be toasted and ground into recipes for an even deeper flavor. Cumin provides warmth to rich dishes and a very specific spice that can’t be replicated with something else.
2. Smoked Paprika
If you want to add a smoky flavor to absolutely anything, smoked paprika is the way to go. Not only will it give your ribs, salads, and fajitas a lovely smokey hint, but it will give everything a gorgeous color, too.
A little bit of smoked paprika goes a long way, so use it sparingly until you know how strongly you’ll react to the taste.
Whether you sprinkle it on your oatmeal for breakfast on the go, or you’re becoming an avid baker, cinnamon is a wonderful spice to have on hand. It’s warm, comforting, familiar, and can be added to both sweet and savory dishes. Cinnamon can also be used as a sort of “finishing” spice when you top dishes with a sprinkle of it.
4. Garlic Powder
If you’re a garlic lover, you absolutely need this spice in your pantry. There is some controversy surrounding garlic powder. Some believe you should be using fresh garlic instead. But, there is a time and a place for both options. Garlic powder will give you a concentrated garlic flavor in your dish, and it’s used in almost every type of cuisine.
So, when you get your asian grocery delivery, you can whip up a quick General Tso’s with garlic powder. Making tacos for dinner? Sprinkle some garlic powder into the chicken. Putting together a meatloaf? Garlic powder will add extra flavor. It’s an extremely versatile spice that can be used almost everywhere, so make sure to stock up.
Of course, there are plenty of other spices to have in your pantry if you’re trying to become an avid cook at home. But, if you’re just getting started, these spices will give you a great foundation to build from. Happy cooking!
Team TDP x