There are literally thousands of spice blends on the market. Here are four that you may not have in your pantry, but should — and why.
Berbere is an Ethiopian mix of paprika, chipotle, fenugreek, ginger, cardamom, nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon and garlic, used to flavor aromatic stews called wats. Like curry spice mixes, every family in Ethiopia has their own custom blend. The flavor is smoky with a peppery bite and added warmth that only cinnamon and ginger can bring. It’s excellent on beef, lamb and pork, but it can also liven up vegetables like cauliflower and potatoes.
Za’Atar blends can be found in northern Africa and in the Middle East. It’s a citrusy, earthy mixture of thyme, oregano, sumac (the citrusy flavor), sesame seeds and salt. Use it on chicken, fish and pork, or even stir into yogurt for a quick dip.
Adobo, in this form, is a dry spice blend most often associated with Mexico, Puerto Rico and other Latin American countries. Typical ingredients include dried onion, garlic, black pepper, Mexican oregano, cumin and cayenne. Think of it as a Latin flavored seasoned salt. Use it on chicken, pork and potatoes. (Note: the Filipino adobo refers to a vinegar stewed dish, not a spice blend.)
Maharajah curry powder is on the mild, dare we say “sweet” side of curry powders. It is similar to the standard “grocery store” curry powder although worlds more aromatic. It gets its golden color from turmeric and a touch of saffron, but the aromatics make this Maharajah blend special: coriander, cumin, cardamom, fenugreek, ginger, nutmeg, fennel, cinnamon, and cloves. Black, white and cayenne peppers add subtle heat. Excellent with vegetables (especially cauliflower) and soups, stews and rice dishes.
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