January 9, 2018

12 Simple Ways to Make Food Taste Better and Add More Flavour

Post by Admin

Everyday meal planning …… EEEhhhhhh!!

Do you find meal planning difficult and look for cooking tips on how to make food taste better and add new dishes to your meals?

I find meal planning to be a tedious thankless task. Not only do you have to plan and think about what you will be cooking today, tomorrow or the day after but also shop accordingly.

And to avoid stressful cooking, the majority of us fall back to cooking dishes we are most comfortable with, like pasta, rice, soups and curries.

Of course there is nothing wrong with this.  Our lives are too busy to cook fancy dishes every day, but monotonous cooking and same tastes do have a tendency to make mealtimes predictably less interesting!

On my quest to learn how to add flavour to meals without much effort I discovered that adding spices was a simple cooking technique to instantly enhance flavour of the food and also add variety to your meal times.

In this Post, I am going to be sharing few tips which will

List 12 easy to find spices to make food taste 

Explain the flavour profile of the spices

Ways to use the spice in dishes and cook different meals 

Spice combination what works with other ingredients 

Easy 30 minutes recipes to make 

This list of 12 flavour packed spices and herbs will surely add a ‘zing’ to your cooking and make food taste better and a ‘ting’ of taste to those eating!

There is no dearth of recipes to find these days with the internet swamped by food blogs and websites (including mine), cooking shows, magazines even newspaper publishing recipes.

The focus of this post today is to change what you cook, simply by adding new flavours in the form of spices and herbs and make every food taste better in a dash!!

Adding Flavour to Food One At a Time

There is no magic or a set rule for good cooking. This is because each of us has our own way of cooking and methods we use. But there sure are tricks to make bland food taste better.

However, one universal element of cooking is TASTE!

If the food you cook is tasty, it’s good cooking!! Even if it involves adding the correct amount of salt!

Seasoning is what makes food taste good. We normally use salt and pepper to pep up our dishes.

Imagine if we broaden our scope of seasoning and bring in more exciting flavours ……. again in a dash !!???

As you already use the basic two seasoning, aka salt and pepper, or perhaps few others, let’s elevate our taste buds to a notch up at a time with these simple yet powerful flavour enhancing spices and herbs.

Start by adding just one spice each month of the year and work with different suitable combinations before you introduce another one!

You may like to read The Ultimate Guide to Spice Combinations That Work Best 

Slowly but Surely these little culinary experimentations will change how you perceive spices and the way you cook with them.

1. Nutmeg

Nutmeg is a seed kernel used to flavour sweet and savoury dishes, popularly used in Middle Eastern, Indian and European cuisines. It is a delicate spice with strong flavour.

Taste

Nutmegs are sweet-scented and pungent.

How to use Nutmeg

The popular form of nutmeg is whole seed. You can freshly grate nutmeg with the help of a grater into the dish.

It can also be used to delicately enhance the flavour of meat dishes and sweet or root vegetables such as potatoes, carrots, turnip etc.

Compliments best with

Nutmegs go well with dairy products such as cheese sauce and is added to many desserts such as apple, rhubarb or pumpkin pie, custard, rice pudding etc.

Other warm and sweet spices such as cloves, cardamom, cinnamon

Recipes to Cook with Nutmeg

Roasted Squash 

Moroccan Meatball and Couscous Soup 

2. Italian Mixed Herb

An Italian herb mix is a mix of dried Oregano, Basil, Marjoram, Rosemary and Thyme.

Just a sprinkle of a teaspoon or two of this mixed herb adds a rounded flavour to any pasta,fish and chicken dish.

Taste

Pungent

How to use Italian Mixed Herb

Mixed Italian Herb is very easy to use. You simply need add few teaspoons directly to the dishes such as tomato based sauce, cheese based sauce.

You can also use it to make dressings, salads, stews, marinades and rubs.

Compliments best with

Pasta, fish, and white meat.

Also combines well with dairy and tangy based sauces such as tomato sauce, lemon garlic sauce etc.

Recipes to Cook with Italian mixed herb

Cranberry Roasted Chicken 

Garlic Parmesan Roasted Sweet Potatoes 

3. Chinese 5 spice

Bring in an oriental twist to your meals by adding a bit a Chinese 5 spices to your meats and veges.

Its a popular Chinese base seasoning for many Chinese/Oriental dishes. It is made with a mix of different spices such as star anise, cloves, cinnamom, szechuan pepper and fennel

Taste

This spice mix falls between sweet and pungent.

How to use Chinese 5 spice

Use the spice blend directly into the dish you wish to cook.

It makes a very aromatic rub and marinade for meats such as pork, duck and beef.

You can also use it as a seasoning for making fried rice, noodles, stir fries and also broth of soup.

Compliments best with

Since it already has different spices blended, its best to combine the spice with sauces such as tomato sauce, soya sauce,  and other oriental sauces.

It enhances the flavour of meats, vegetables, noodles and rice.

Recipes to Cook with Chinese 5 spice

Slow Cooker 5 Spice Pork Roast 

Orange Spiced Salmon with Spaghetti Squash 

4. Cloves

Cloves are the aromatic dried flower buds from the clove tree. Popularly used whole, ground cloves powder can also be used.

Taste

It has a very strong sweet and pungent taste.

How to use Cloves

Cloves can be used to make both sweet and savory dishes.

Whole cloves are commonly used to flavour oil, sauces or to add flvour to broths and curries.

You can also use it for making barbeque sauces, soups and pickles.

Use cloves for pies,  dairy based desserts and also drinks.

Compliments best with

Cloves go well with almost any type of ingredient and other spices.

Few of the best combinations are red meats, nuts, sweet vegetables such  as pumpkin, carrots, sweet potato, peas.

The best spice combination is cinnamon, cardamom and bay leaves.

Recipes to Cook with cloves

Egg Curry In Cashew Gravy 

Molasses Crinkle Cookies 

Adding flavour with spices to make food taste better

5. Smoked Paprika

Also called ‘pimenton’ its an aromatic Spanish red paprika powder that adds a subtle smoky flavour to dishes it is used in.

It can range from mild to hot depending on the kind of heat you choose.

Taste

Sweet, smoky and hot

How to use Smoked Paprika

Add directly to the dish you, however like most spices do take care not to add too much to the dish as a little render a strong smoky flavour to the dish.

It can be added to roast vegetables, all kinds of meat especially sausages and also eggs.

Add a pinch to dressings or sauces. Use in marinades, dips or soups.

Compliments best with

Red meat and vegetables such as potatoes, zucchini, aubergine.

It combines well with spices such as cloves, cinnamon and cumin powder.

Recipes to Cook with smoked paprika

Roasted Red Pepper Tomato Soup 

Moroccan Braised Chicken, Lentils, Smoked Paprika & Tomato

6. Cardamon

Known as the queen of spices due to its high price and aromatic properties.

Its a flower bud and is popularly used in many cuisines.

Taste

Sweet

How to use Green Cardamom

You can either use the pods whole, crushed or in powder form.

Green cardamon pods are used for curry, rice or even to flavour coffee in Arabic style.

It can be used to make both sweet and savoury dishes.

Simply add it to the dish to enhance flavour and aroma.

Compliments best with

Green cardamoms go well with almost any vegetable or meat.

This aromatic spice is great for flavouring dairy based desserts.

Recipes to Cook with cardamoms

Warli Style Traditional Indian Lamb Curry 

Mango and Cardamom Chia Seed Pudding

7. Taco/Fajita seasoning

Taco or fajita seasoning is a popular mexican inspired spice blend easily available in any super market.

You do not have to stick to making fajitas or tacos with this seasoning but use it to make different kinds of dishes.

Its a mix of garlic powder, chilli powder, red pepper flakes, cornstarch , oregano, cumin powder and salt.

Taste

Pungent and hot

How to use Taco/fajita seasoning

This versatile spice mix can be used to make curries such as chili beef, roast vegetables, pasta sauce, marinade, dips and even soup.

Compliments best with

It goes very well with tomato sauce, yogurt, lemon, mince meat,couscous, legumes and many vegetables.

You do not need to add any extra spice if you are using a taco seasoning.

Recipes to Cook with Taco/fajita seasoning

Chicken Fajita Pasta 

Portobello Fajitas 

 8. Kafir lime leaves

A zesty aromatic leaf of kafir lime trees, the leaves are used in South Asian cuisine.

It has a very strong aroma and used whole to add a deep fresh flavour mainly to curries and broth.

Taste

Aromatic and pungent

How to use Kafir lime leaves

You can either choose to cut the leaves or use whole in the dish and simmer for the leave to infuse its aroma.

Use it for making curries and flavoured broths for noodle soup.

Compliments best with

Chillies, ginger, shallots, fish and chicken.

Recipes to Cook with Kafir lime leaves

Red Thai Curry with Shrimp and Mango 

Thai Chicken Kebabs with Oriental Flavour 

9. Cajun seasoning

Similar to a taco seasoning but uses additional spices such as cayenne pepper, garlic powder, sweet paprika, dried oregano,  dried thyme, ground black pepper, onion powder.

Taste

Mildly hot and sweet

How to use Cajun Seasoning

Cajun seasoning can be used directly in the dish as a marinade for making rubs, dips or flavouring rice dishes

Compliments best with

Meat, chicken, fish, rice, legumes and almost all vegetables

Recipes to Cook with Cajun Spice

Cajun Spiced Flounder with Tomatoes 

Cajun Potato Salad 

10. Curry powder

Perhaps the most popular Indian spice mix used to make a basic curry. There is no set recipe for a curry powder mix but primarily has turmeric powder, cumin powder, coriander powder, ginger powder, curry leaves powder and chilli powder.

Taste

Hot and pungent

How to use Curry powder

Curry powder is added directly to the dish and is best when sauteed with other ingredients in oil to remove the strong raw smell of spices.

It can be used to make curries,  marinades or stir fries.

Compliments best with

Whole spices such as cloves, cinnamom, cardamom, bay leaves

Goes with any kind of meat, vegetable, legumes, rice and rice noodles.

Recipes to Cook with curry powder

Singapore Noodles 

Coconut Curry Lentil Soup

11. Za’atar 

Za’atar is a traditional Middle Eastern seasoning that typically includes a blend of dried thyme, oregano, sumac, toasted sesame seeds and salt.

Taste

Sweet and sour

How to use Za’atar 

Zaatar is used as seasoning just like salt and pepper; that is,  it is added to a finished dish such as salads, steaks, breads .

You can also use it for making dips and rice-based dishes.

Compliments best with

Fish, chicken, any vegetable, olive oil

Recipes to Cook with za’atar

Mediterranean Vegan Wraps with Cauliflower and Tahini

Yogurt-Marinated, Grilled Za’atar-Rubbed Lamb

12. Flavoured Salt

When in doubt with lifting flavours instantaneously, add a dash of any flavoured salt to your dish.

There are many different kinds of flavoured salts available in the market these days such as garlic and herb salt, chilli salt, curry flavoured salt, Chinese salt etc.

How to use flavoured salt

Since it is a seasoning its best to add a dash of salt to the finished dish or while sauteeing to retain maximum flavour.

Add flavoured salt to salads, marinades for grilling or steaming, stir fries and chips.

Compliments best with

A flavoured salt goes well with any vegetable, meat, chicken, fish or legumes.

Recipes to Cook with flavoured salt

Roasted Sweet Potatoes Recipe with Double Truffle Flavor and Parmesan

Assorted recipes using flavoured sea salt 

Over To You 

Share your favourite spice or trick you use to lift flavours of your meals. It’s always fun to learn from others.

Related Posts For Reference 

Cooking Spices – A 5 Step guide to cook with spices 
How to cook Indian food so that it tastes right each time 
Top 10 Spices to make 30 – minutes meal that feeds a crowd