Good food: Show us your (spice) rack

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One of the things that gives Bo and I the most joy in our kitchen is our spice rack. I love the heady smells and the tangible feeling of the little glass jars as I lose myself in their colours searching for the perfect flavour to complement a meal that I’m making for my little family of two. Bo loves to roll the jars in her hands and peer through the glass at what treasures are hiding inside. Our spices live right at kid height under my kitchen bench so they get moved around the house and “re-organised” at least once a day by busy little hands.

Creating the perfect collection of spices is something that I have done with great joy. When I go up to the city I visit one of my favourite stores in Perth. Kakulas Sisters. It is a spice market where I buy all of my beautiful spices for next to nothing in bulk (whilst trying to tame wild little hands from grabbing and eating and pocketing every delicious goody she can possibly find). Every time we visit I restock on spices that I have run out of and I buy one or two spices I have never cooked with before, and so our spectacular rack expands… along with our palate.

Spices don’t just add another layer of complexity and flavour to a meal but some also have great healing properties. Some are good for your mind and others for your body.

Have you ever wondered what your spice rack might be missing? Here is our list of must-have spices (and some ideas of how you might use them!)…

The perfect rack


Allspice (used in baking a lot, be careful it has a very strong flavour when over used)

Bay Leaf (Stocks, soups, sauces and curries I use this spice almost daily)

Black peppercorns

Cardamom (Used a lot in Indian cuisine to flavour curry and rice. Also used in baking)

Cayenne Pepper (Adds a sweet heat to soups, marinades and spice mixes)

Chili (dried whole or crushed and used in most cuisines internationally, widely versatile and adds great complexity to a dish)

Cinnamon (used all around the world you can use it in both sweet and savoury dishes)

Cloves (used in baking and in cooking meat, it has a sweet warm flavour)

Coriander (Lemon-earthy flavour. Used in Mexican, Indian and some South East Asian dishes)

Cumin (Middle eastern, African, Indian and Mexican cuisine. A beautiful spice that can be used liberally for a lovely earthy tone)

• Curry Powder (combination of turmeric, cumin, coriander, fennel and is used as a spice mix to create a base for Indian curries)

Fennel Seed (Aids digestion and can be chewed as it is or added to curries and marinades. Used a lot in Indian and Middle Eastern dishes)

Garam Masala (combination of cinnamon, cardamom, clove, cumin, coriander and more. Used to season curries and Indian sauces, stews and rice dishes)

Galangal (ground thai ginger that I use primarily in thai curries)

Kaffir leaves (fresh is best but hard to get your hands on. Kaffir is widely used in thai curries and noodle dishes)

Nutmeg (used a lot in baking but can also be used in savoury dishes)

Paprika (sweet and can be hot. Used a lot in stews and spice rubs)

Star Anise (strong aniseed flavour. Used in Indian, Middle eastern and some African cuisines. Sometimes used in baking)

Sea salt (to season)

Sumac (A middle eastern spice that adds a big kick of flavour)

Turmeric (Can be used in place of saffron in recipes. Used a lot in Indian cooking, stews, curries and rice dishes)

Vanilla bean (Desserts and Yoghurts)

White peppercorns (to season)


Have I missed your favourite spice? What are your must have “perfect-rack” ingredients? What can you live without? What don’t you know how to use?   show us your rack2PIN IT show us your rack3PIN IT show us your rack4PIN IT

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  • September 26, 2013 - 7:29 am

    Rachel - Thanks for this! I’m a hopeless cook and wouldn’t know where to begin with spices without a recipe – I’ve been trying to cook more lately and I bought a few spices from the supermarket and they’re still sitting unopened weeks later! i’m going to have to try and get a bit more adventurous beyond salt, pepper and chilli1ReplyCancel

  • September 26, 2013 - 10:43 am

    Michelle - Thanks Sash! You’ve inspired me to give my spice rack a makeover 🙂 I use spices all the time, but they’re crammed into a cupboard above my kitchen counter and are always hard to get to. Your glass jars are not only practical, but look amazing….I might get a hold of some jars and make my life a little easier – thanks for the idea!ReplyCancel

  • September 26, 2013 - 11:22 am

    Mother Down Under - Saffron! Oh delicious saffron!
    And it goes in the fridge, but I generally have a tube of harissa in the house too…a squeeze adds just the right amount of spice to pastas and even sandwiches!ReplyCancel

  • September 26, 2013 - 1:59 pm

    Alma - Me, cumin, dill, rosemary, thyme, sage, lemongrass, oregano, mint, more inclined to mediterranean kitchen,-) Sumac, I tried it just once and like it, that’s something I want to give a chance toReplyCancel

  • September 26, 2013 - 4:36 pm

    Elena - Awesome Sash! My spices cupboard needs a bit of love so this will be a great opportunity to top my collection up with some far eastern beautiful flavours.
    I’m with Alma on what’s on my shelves. Romanian by roots, I use a lot of dill, thyme, parsley, lovage, mint and basil in our dishes. My grandma dries fresh lovage and thyme and chillies from her garden for the winter so everytime I go back I get a fresh stock.

  • September 26, 2013 - 4:59 pm

    Jeannie - I use a lot of Garlic, I absolutely love the taste and smell of fresh Garlic. You have inspired me to try a few new spices, Coriander is on my shopping list for today, Can’t wait to try it on ChickenReplyCancel

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