Once upon a time, there was a lady called Masala who collected spices, all types of spices from many different countries. She had bottles and boxes of exotic spices, so many that they were exploding from her cupboard and she had to start storing them in extra masala dabbas.
Miss Masala thought about spices and what she would cook with them all day and night, and relentlessly made elaborate feasts in her head fit for the most discerning palates. Shichimi Togarashi would be perfect for flavoring spectacular soups. Herbes de Provence would add a special touch to a Bolognese, and why not have five types of curry powders instead of one? You never know what your chicken, shrimp or lamb is in the mood for.
The real situation was though, Miss Masala only had two little girls and herself to feed, and there was no way she could use all those spices before they expired. Still, she continued filling her kitchen with more stuff until she ran out of space.
Only then did Miss Masala decide that it was time to clear out the cupboard and get rid of some of the spices. She picked up each bottle and to her dismay, more than half of the spices were expired by more than 2 years! What a waste of space and money. The brilliant aroma of the spices was gone to be replaced by the smell of sawdust.
By now you should have figured that Miss Masala is no other than myself – spice hoarder extraordinaire. When I took a picture of all the spices I had to throw away, it was disheartening and very sad. I could not even give them away because they were not good anymore.
I had to get this spice mania under control and decided to think long and hard about what were the essentials for my kitchen and the way I cooked. It came down to this.
- Black and White Pepper, which I keep in grinders
- Vadouvan – A French-inspired curry powder which is milder than regular curry
- Curry Vindaloo or Trinitarian Chief curry
- Chinese Five Spice – a spice mixture of five or more spices used primarily in Chinese cuisine
- Garam Masala – a blend of ground spices used extensively in Indian cooking
- Ras El Hanout – a Moroccan spice blend
- Ground Cinnamon – excellent in stews
- Dried Oregano
- Smoked Paprika
- Ground Cumin
- Pink Himalayan Salt – just because it is pink. So cute!
- Whole Nutmeg
With these spices, a lot of excellent dishes can be created. There is also no need to buy too much of anything at a time as realistically, you will not consume that much unless you have a big household or own a restaurant. Remember that each kitchen is different so which spices you choose are entirely up to you.
My brother gave me something recently which I have never used before – Granulated Honey, this will be used to sweeten my Earl Grey Tea.
Here is a video that I found very useful. The spices in his pantry are not the same as the ones I chose.
12 Spices You Should Not Be Living Without ! MUNDUS AROMATICUS #2
2 thoughts on “The Spice Hoarder”
Love this piece, Ms. Masala. I have had a similar experience. I went to the Spice Market in Mumbai, India and it was hard not to get excited and buy everything my eyes feasted on. The colours, the smells and the taste are overwhelming. With great intention, I planned to cook up a storm. Years later, when I found a lady from India who was willing to give me some lessons, she went through my spices and told me they had all EXPIRED. LOL. Your dining companion Ms. G.
Too many spices, so little time!