7 Spices You've Never Heard of ... But Will Want to Use

7 Spices You've Never Heard of But Need7 Spices You've Never Heard of But NeedKitchens are opening up to the world's cuisines and we're far beyond the days of dried basil and oregano, when bay leaves and curry powder were about as exotic as you got in the grocery store spice aisle. With a boost in ethnic diversity and an increased demand for exotic ingredients at home, more and more spices are becoming available, and boutique spice shops are popping up for those interested in sourcing the very best. Spices - and spice blends - are a great way to boost flavor in your cooking without adding fat or calories. Finding a few great ones can add depth to everything from meat to veggies to beverages. Here are seven you may not be familiar with. All are worth getting to know a little better.

Star AniseStar Anise1. Star Anise
Native to China and Vietnam, star anise is the fruit of an evergreen magnolia tree. It's stunningly beautiful - a hard star-shaped pod, it is often ground and used in spice blends like garam masala, Chinese five-spice powder, and chai. Try simmering whole star anise in tea or lemonade concentrate, or steep in cream before whipping it or making creme brûlée or ice cream.

Related: 8 healthy food staples under $3

Black CardamomBlack Cardamom2. Black Cardamom
Rough, smoky (a result of drying over open flame) black cardamom doesn't resemble its green counterpart; it's often used in spice blends like garam masala, and adds depth to braised meats in Chinese cuisine.

Ethiopian BerbereEthiopian Berbere3. Ethiopian Berbere
This multipurpose Ethiopian/North African spice blend is available with whole spices or ground into a fine powder. It might contain ginger, fenugreek, chiles, cumin, coriander, and cloves. Try it in stews, or as a dry rub for meats destined for the grill.

Related: The 25 healthiest foods under $1

Green 4. Green Cardamom
Popular in India for 2000 years, cardamom is a versatile spice, enhancing both sweet and savoury dishes. You'll find it in rice puddings and chai, but also in European and Scandinavian baked goods. Shell and grind dry pods for the best flavor.

Urfa BiberUrfa Biber5. Urfa Biber
"Biber" is Turkish for chile, and these crushed Urfa chiles are a dark purply-black and slightly oily, with an intense smoky depth and moderate heat. Use them in rice dishes, stews, and anywhere you want a deep, dark flavor and a touch of heat - or try pairing them with dark chocolate.

Turkish BaharatTurkish Baharat6. Turkish Baharat
The word "baharat" simply means "spice" in Arabic, and it refers to a variety of spice mixtures that are common throughout North Africa and many Middle Eastern countries. Baharat blends vary by region, though most contain several common ingredients like pepper, paprika, cinnamon, clove and nutmeg. It's especially good for grilling, and often served at the table to season dishes as you might use salt and pepper.

Related: 10 ways to recreate Chinese takeout...in your home

Garam MasalaGaram Masala7. Garam Masala
Similar to a traditional curry blend, garam masala is made up of a number of spices - the types and quantities depend on the cook and/or region. It tends to have a milder, more floral flavor - try it on everything from eggs to fish to potatoes, and to add further depth to curry dishes.

- By Julie Van Rosedaal
Follow Julie on Babble


10 tasty mug cakes you can make in less than 10 minutes
The 23 absolute best brownie recipes on the web
13 disgusting soda flavors you won't believe
20 salads hearty enough for tonight's dinner
8 failed food products you'll never have to eat again

Babble | Babble.com
Stay connected. Follow Babble on Facebook and Twitter.