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Most Popular Spice Blends Around the World

Slofoodgroup Team October 09, 2023

Spice blends are what sets similar dishes from around the world apart. Take chicken for instance: Just about every culture has some sort of chicken dish that is considered to be integral to their cuisine, yet the flavors vary greatly in large part due to the particular blend of spices utilized in each locale.

Admittedly, at Slofoodgroup, we love to geek out about diversity in flavors and ingredients, so we find the variations of spice blends from around the world to be incredibly intriguing. We did a little research on the most popular global spice blends and wanted to share with our readers.

A List of the Global Top Spice Blends

Garam Masala

Garam Masala is a versatile Indian spice blend featuring a balanced mix of warming and cooling spices like cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, cumin, and coriander. It's used to season a wide range of Indian dishes, imparting a rich and aromatic flavor, accompanied by a sensation of warmth. Here's a wonderful recipe for DIY Garam Masala. 

Curry Powder

Curry powder is a popular spice blend that was created by the British using a mixture including many traditional Indian spices. Curry blends vary in composition but typically include turmeric, cumin, coriander, and chili peppers. Need a recipe for creating your own curry powder? Try ours. 

Chinese Five Spice

Chinese Five Spice is a blend of, you guessed it: 5 spices. While the 5 spices are typically the similar from recipe-to-recipe, the amounts of each vary and some spices might be swapped for others depending on the family recipe. The ingredients will typically include: star anise, cloves, Chinese cinnamon (cassia), Sichuan peppercorns, and fennel seeds, each of which represents one of the earth's 5 elements. Because Sichuan peppercorns are not always readily available, it is frequently substituted with another ingredient in some recipes. Check out our homemade Chinese 5 Spice recipe using white peppercorns. 

Ras el Hanout

Ras el Hanout is a North African spice blend that typically contains upwards of 20 different spices, including cinnamon, coriander, cumin, and cloves. It's often used in Moroccan and Tunisian cuisine to add complexity to dishes, but has become popularized the world over in recent years. Check out our recipe for rose petal Ras el Hanout.

Herbes de Provence

Herbes de Provence is a blend of dried herbs like thyme, rosemary, oregano, marjoram, and lavender, originating from the Provence region of France. It adds a fragrant and savory touch to classic French recipes, such as Bouillabaisse.

Za'atar

Za'atar is a Middle Eastern spice blend combining dried thyme, oregano, sumac, sesame seeds, and sometimes other herbs and spices. It's often mixed with olive oil and used as a dip or seasoning. Looking for a way to use Za'atar? Try this recipe for a savory Babka with shallots, za'atar, and flake sea salt. 

Cajun, Creole, and Blackening Seasonings

Cajun, Creole, and Blackening are often used interchangeably when describing southern-spice blends, but that when done so, it's actually inaccurate.  These seasonings originated in Louisiana, and do contain some of the same ingredients, typically contain some combination of paprika, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and herbs like thyme and oregano. Cajun is the spiciest of the seasonings, coming across as more pepper-forward. Creole contains far less chile powder and is far more herbaceous. Blackening seasoning strikes a balance between the two. Try making your own with this easy recipe for blackening seasoning. 

Adobo

Adobo is a versatile spice blend that can include ingredients like garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, and paprika. It's used in Filipino and Latin American cuisines to season a variety of dishes.

Baharat

Baharat is a widely recognized spice blend in Middle Eastern cuisine. The combination of ingredients vary by region, but it is typically made up of the following base spices: black pepper, paprika, cumin, coriander, cloves, and cinnamon. This versatile blend is primarily used to season various meats and stews, adding a rich and aromatic flavor to Middle Eastern dishes.

Jerk Seasoning

Jerk seasoning is a fiery spice blend used in Jamaican cuisine, often featuring allspice, thyme, scotch bonnet peppers, garlic, and ginger. It's used to marinate and season meats, particularly for grilling.

Berbere

Berbere is complex and aromatic. Its roots are in Ethiopia but it has become renowned worldwide for its fiery allure, weaving together chili peppers, paprika, fenugreek, aromatic spices, and more. Traditional uses include Ethiopian stews and lentil dishes but Berbere's versatility extends far beyond Ethiopia, adding a bold flavor to roasted vegetables, grilled meats, marinades, soups, and sauces.

Harissa

Harissa is a spicy spice blend originating from North Africa, with ingredients like chili peppers, garlic, coriander, and caraway seeds. It's most often used to make a paste and served as a condiment or stirred in to soups and stews as flavoring agent, although, harissa has grabbed global attention and its uses have expanded greatly‚ÄĒfrom sprinkling on roasted vegetables and marinating grilled meats to seasoning quick pickles and popcorn. Have some Harissa paste on hand? Use it to make these meatballs in coconut harissa sauce.¬†

Piri Piri

Piri Piri, also spelled peri-peri, is a fiery spice blend made from African bird's eye chili peppers.¬†The name itself, actually translates to "pepper-pepper", but the blend contains mroe than just a single ingredient‚ÄĒoften being combined with garlic, paprika, and citrus zest¬†and is mostly¬†used to create a marinade and sauce for grilled meats.While the blend got its start in Africa, it eventually crossed borders and became a staple of Portuguese cuisine, where it is mixed with wine, pan drippings, and other ingredients to make a sauce for¬†a popular dish called Piri Piri chicken.

Dukkah

Dukkah, or duqqa, is an Egyptian spice blend made from roasted nuts (usually hazelnuts or almonds), sesame seeds, and a mix of spices like cumin, fennel seeds, and coriander. It is warm and comforting and primarily used alongside olive oil as a dip with bread.

Shichimi Togarashi

Shichimi Togarashi, or "seven-flavor chili pepper," is a vibrant Japanese spice blend concocted of chili peppers, sesame seeds, nori (seaweed), Sichuan peppercorns, and other spices. In Japanese cuisine, Shichimi Togarashi is the spice of choice to elevate dishes with heat and depth, making it an essential companion to the flavors of Japan. It has experienced a recent spike in popularity in other places around the world due to the viral sushi bake dishes. 

Panch Phoron

Panch Phoron is a Bengali spice blend consisting of five seeds: fenugreek, nigella, cumin, black mustard, and fennel. Rather than being ground into a fine powder, the seeds are mixed in their whole form and often dry roasted to bring out their essence. Panch Phoron is primarily used in various Bengali and northeastern Indian dishes.

Fines Herbes

Not to be confused with herbes de Provance, Fines Herbes is a French herb blend that does not pack much of a culinary punch. It is often reserved for more delicate dishes, like omelets, simple sauces, salads, and fish. It is comprised of equal parts of lightly flavored herbs, including chives, tarragon, parsley, and chervil.

Tabil

Lesser known around the world than many of the other mentioned spice blends,Tabil is incredibly popular in Tunisia, and a indespensable in North African cuisine. It combines a medley of flavors,  featuring coriander, caraway, garlic, and a bit of kick from chili peppers. The balance of earthiness, aromatics, umami, and heat have made it a staple in traditional Tunisian dishes, including hearty stews and fragrant couscous. 

Advieh

Advieh simply translates to "spice". It is a delightful Persian spice blend commonly found in Iranian cuisine and the base blend for many dishes. Recipes for advieh vary, but will include some combination of aromatic warming ingredients, including cinnamon, turmeric, cloves, cardamom, and dried rose petals. This aromatic blend is a staple in Persian kitchens, enhancing the flavors of traditional rice and meat dishes. The base blend will often be further enhanced for a variety of dishes. For example, Advieh Koresht will include dried limes and Advieh Ash will contain fenugreek leaves. 

Dashi

Dashi is a Japanese stock or seasoning blend made from ingredients like dried bonito flakes, kombu seaweed, and sometimes dried mushrooms. It forms the base for many Japanese soups and sauces. Looking for a use for dashi? Try it on this popular Japanese comfort food‚ÄĒOchazuke, or green tea rice, with smoked salmon and vegetables.¬†

These spice blends each bring their own unique flavors and cultural influences to dishes from different regions around the world, but as with any ingredient, the spice blends will only be as good as the quality of the spices included. You'll find only the best, ethically sourced, top-quality ingredients in our spice shop.




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