8 Under-the-Radar Hipster Spices You Need to Be Using Now

Turmeric is so six months ago.

Remember earlier this year, when everyone was all turmeric-this and turmeric-that? Not anymore, because as terrific and healthy as that nearly-neon yellow spice is, it reached peak popularity months ago and the ambitious chefs of the world are already moving on. Many of the spices they're working with are so far beyond what you can find at a typical grocery store that you may have never seen them before. That's okay: You will. Here, 8 to look out for next time you venture out.

1.  Nigella

Not Nigella Lawson, we promise. The spice that shares the name is about to make a big entry into the food scene. "I think it is the new sesame. It offers nutty notes with savory, garlic and onion notes plus great texutre," explains Lior Lev Sercarz, owner of La Boîte and writer of The Spice Companion. "You can sprinkle it on anything cooked or raw."

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2.  Black cardamom

"It's not really a cardamom, but offers similar notes with a great smokey flavor, making everything meat-like," says Sercarz. "And it transforms even vegetable dishes into nearly a grilled protein." 

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3.  Urfa

"This is the new chili flake in town," says Sercarz. "Urfa has coarse flakes and smoky notes with a balanced heat that make it a perfect seasoning for anything. It has notes of wine and chocolate. It works great with any meat, fish and dessert." This traditional Turkish seasoning is most often found at Middle Eastern markets, so don't try your regular grocer for this one.

4.  Amchoor

"It has great fruity and acidic notes that can replace lemon juice and vinegar," says Sercarz of this North Indian seasoning made from unripe green mangoes. "The growing interest in acidity in food makes it a perfect natural solution, with great mango notes. It works with vegetables, dressing, sauces, juices and cocktails."

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5.  Sumac

This tangy spice comes from little red berries that are dried and typically pulverized or ground, leaving a sort of coarse, grainy powder that pairs well with just about anything you'd put a squeeze of lemon on. "It's versatile and enriches meats, cheeses and fish but it's best to add a touch just before eating," says Sercarz.

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6.  Nutmeg

You've heard of this one, but did you know nutmeg has lots of umami?French superstar chef Eric Ripert of New York City's Le Bernardin says, "Nutmeg is an important ingredient in classic cooking, and it's used a lot during the cold weather months. Nutmeg has a lot of umami and a woody earthiness to it."

7.  Green peppercorn

Forget black peppercorns: It's all about the green. While the spice is "a very common pairing is with filet mignon," says Ripert, "I love it with different kinds of fish including monkfish, cod and striped bass. It adds mostly spiciness but also has unique floral and herbaceous dimensions." 

A photo posted by Eric Ripert (@ericripert) on

8.  Espelette

"This is a pepper that is bright red in color with light spiciness followed by some sweetness and floral tones," says Ripert. "I use it on so many things. It really lifts the flavor. The heat never burns or overwhelms. I often add it to ratatouille." The spice is also the cornerstone of traditional Basque cuisine, where it acts almost like black pepper, delivering sweet, spicy heat in small, easily-controlled amounts. Plus, who can resist that bright red color

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