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Sure, a little salt and pepper goes a long way in playing up the flavour notes of your dishes, but who wants food that merely tastes good, when you can have memorable, mouth-watering meals instead.
When it comes to plant-based or vegan cuisine, spices are the secret weapon in your culinary arsenal to amp up the flavour and leave you wanting more. For meals that enchant the senses, harness the power of spices and elevate your mealtimes from dull and ordinary to delectable dining experiences.
Variety may be the spice of life, but a variety of spices is the key to a life of rich and robust flavour. So we’re sharing 6 vegan spices we think every vegan should have in their kitchen.
The Best Spices for Vegan Cooking
Whether you are a novice when it comes to vegan cooking, or a seasoned professional, our list of 6 essential vegan spices will equip you with all you need to master adding a flavourful flare to your vegan meals. Without further ado, let’s get spicy.
This is one of the world’s most popular spices, with its most common uses in Indian, Asian, Mexican and African cuisines. A nutty and smokey flavoured spice, cumin is made from the dried seeds of the cuminum cyminum plant and is often used in savoury cooking and in spice blends such as curry powder.
Cumin can be ground or used in seed form, each adding a unique flavour profile to your dish. This earthy spice pairs well with spices like cinnamon, turmeric and ginger. So consider creating your own vegan spice blend to add to hummus, soups, curries, tofu scramble and chillies, for a dimension of warm heat and earthy flavour, to invigorate your vegan meals.
Nutmeg is sweet and nutty, with spicy notes. Derived from the seeds of the dark-leaved, evergreen Myristica fragrans tree, this warm spice is popular in Indian, Caribbean and French cuisines.
Its combination of sweet and nutty flavour makes nutmeg one of the more versatile spices as it can be used in both sweet and savoury dishes. So make the most of nutmeg’s range by adding it to your favourite vegan baked goods for a dance of flavour, or to your dark leafy greens like spinach and kale.
Nutmeg pairs well with other ‘sweeter’ spices like cloves, cinnamon and allspice. So consider a blend of these spices to add some warmth and added oomph to your vegan baked treats.
If you are into the spicier things in life, this spice is sure to bring the heat into your kitchen, and your cooking. Coming in at a piping 12 times hotter than a jalapeno pepper, this hot spice is a great complement to any meal that needs a spicy edge.
For an extra kick to your meals, this is a vegan spice essential that is sure to deliver. It pairs well with cumin, paprika and cinnamon, and is best used in foods like curries, chillies, tomatoes and eggplant. But for a yummy twist, consider adding some cayenne to your favourite vegan chocolate dessert recipe, for a hint of heat in your sweet treat.
Garlic powder is undoubtedly one of the best spices for vegan cooking. A quintessential flavour enhancer, garlic spice is often used in the beginning of meal preparations, especially when frying onions and other herbs and spices, to create a foundation of robust, hearty depth of flavour in any dish.
It is popular in Italian and Mexican cuisines to name a few, and it pairs well with spices like coriander, turmeric and cumin. Garlic spice is a great addition to start off any dish with a pop of flavour, so use it as a basis for your soups, salad dressings, marinades, stews and sauces.
Paprika is another spice that carries some warm heat with it, which is likely due to it originating from ground dried capsicums, a type of hot pepper. Paprika comes in a few varieties like smoked paprika and Hungarian paprika, each adding their own unique flavour twist to your meal.
Popular in Spanish cuisines, paprika pairs well with garlic, cumin and chilli. Use paprika on potatoes, potato salads, broccoli, stews and sauces.
This golden spice, popular in vegan cooking, is characterised by earthy, ginger and slightly peppery notes, and is a fundamental ingredient for any curry. Turmeric comes from the root of the Curcuma longa, a plant which belongs to the ginger family, hence its gingery notes.
Majorly a savoury spice, turmeric pairs well with a host of spices like paprika, nutmeg, cloves and allspice. In addition to being a curry staple, turmeric is also an excellent ingredient to use in stews, tofu scrambles, relishes, and with cauliflower and root vegetables.
While it adds great flavour, turmeric also adds a lovely pop of golden colour to your food, which makes it such a favourite in eggless, tofu and savoury breakfasts. Be careful though as it can also stain some kitchen utensils. You can also enjoy turmeric in teas and other drinks, often consumed this way for its supposed health benefits.
Make your vegetables sing and revive the magic in mealtime with our top picks for vegan spices.
Visit What’s For Dinner for hearty vegan recipes, bursting with flavour.