10 different ways to use spices

Learn how to make your own spice blends, and use them in a myriad of ways including dry finishing, oil infusing, and mixing alcoholic beverages.

There are so many different ways to use spices but today I breakdown 10 different ways to use spices from dry finishing to oil infusing with the help of Ethan from Burlap & Barrel. We make an entire meal complete with four different sides ranging from an urfa infused yogurt dip to an afghan inspired rice using a blend we create on our own. We also made a delicious alcoholic drink made with hibiscus and cardamom that pairs well with the entire meal! You can check out Ethan & I make the entire meal here. We break down each technique for you, teach you how to use some of the spices, tell you the best ways to store your spices, and even tell you how to get the most flavor from your spices! If you are new to using all kinds of spices or just want to learn more keep on reading!

Ingredients for the Spice Blends

  • 2 teaspoons of Coriander
  • 2 teaspoons of Cumin Seeds
  • 2 teaspoons of All Spice
  • 1 teaspoon of Whole Black Pepper
  • 2 teaspoons of Salt
  • 1 teaspoon of Cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon of Chili
  • 1 teaspoon of Black Lime
  • 1 teaspoon of Cinnamon

Ingredients for the Kofta:

  • 1 pound of Ground Lamb
  • 1 Tablespoon of the Meat Blend
  • 1 tablespoon of Oil
  • Parsley to top

Ingredients for the Afghan Inspired Rice:

  • Oil for the pan
  • 1 Carrot, diced
  • 2 tablespoons of Raisin
  • 2 cups of Rice
  • 1 Tablespoon of the Rice Blend
  • 2 cups of Water

Ingredients for the Zucchini:

  • 2 zucchinis
  • 1 teaspoon of Sumac
  • 1 teaspoon of Mint
  • 1 teaspoon of Coriander
  • 1 teaspoon of Salt

Ingredients for Chili Infused Yogurt Dip

  • 1 cup of Plain Yogurt (labneh is preferred but Greek yogurt is just as good)
  • 1 teaspoon of Urfa Chili
  • 2 tablespoons of Oil

Ingredients for the Zatar Flatbread

  • 1 package of Pizza Dough
  • 1 tablespoon of Zatar blend
  • Oil for the pan

Ingredients for the Hibiscus and Cardamom Beverage

  • ½ cup of Tequila
  • 2 tablespoon of Dried hibiscus
  • 6 -7 Cardamom pods
  • ¼ cup of Water
  • ¼ cup of Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of Black lime
  • 1 teaspoon of Salt
  • 1 can of Lemon lime soda

Step 1: Toasting:

To start off you want to toast your spices for your base blend because this will bring out the flavors of the spices and intensify them. In a hot dry pan combine the coriander, black pepper, cardamom, all spice, and cumin seeds. You want to toast them on medium heat for about 5 minutes.

Step 2: Grinding:

Once everything has been toasted, go ahead and throw everything into a spice grinder. You want these spices to really blend with each other and become a more refined powder so that it really gets into what you are making.

Step 3: Blending your spices together

Creating blends is a really great way to get creative and with your dishes and play with flavors you want to try. For this recipe, I used a base blend and then added other spices for specific meals. For the base blend combine the coriander, cumin, black pepper, and all spice into a bowl.

Then in one bowl combine half the base blend with cardamom and mix to combine. This will be the blend for the afghan inspired rice. Then in another bowl combine the rest of the base blend with chili, black lime, cinnamon, and salt. This will be the spice blend for the kofta!

Step 4: Marinating

In a large bowl, combine 1 pound of ground lamb, 1 tablespoon of the meat blend, and a little bit of olive oil. Let this mixture marinated for about 30 minutes if you are in a rush or you can let it marinate overnight if you have time.

Step 5: Tempering

This step is more about the oil than it is about the spices. Since you are cooking the spices in the oil, the oil will take on all of those flavors.

Now we can move onto the rice. Add oil to a skillet on medium high heat. Then add in the carrots along with the raisins and salt. Once the raisins get nice and puffy about 3 -4 minutes add in your rice spice blend. Toast the spices for a minute or two and then add in your rice and combine everything. Lastly, add in your water, bring everything to a boil, then turn it down to a simmer and cook until light and fluffy.

Step 6: Rubbing

The next way we will be using spices is rubbing it into our veggies. You want to rub the spices in because it will penetrate more than if you were to sprinkle it in.

So start by getting a pan to medium heat and adding in olive oil. Cut the zucchini into large slices and then rub the spice blend of sumac, mint, coriander, and salt on the zucchini. Lay down the zucchini into the pan and sear them for about 2 minutes on each side. Once they are softer in texture you can remove them from the pan and set them aside.

Now we can finish up the kofta! Get the marinated lamb and grab a golf ball sized portion of meat and pat it into a mini burger shape. Add some more oil to the pan and sear the lamb patties for 3 minutes per side. Once the patties are done cooking, take them out, and set aside.

Step 7: Oil Infusion

Now we will start on the Urfa chili infused yogurt so in a wide shallow pan add in some oil along with the Urfa chili. Oil infusion is an Indian technique that allows oil to be flavored by the spices of your choice so topping a tangy thick yogurt will help balance out the flavor. Let the oil infuse for about 5 minutes on low. In the meantime, place your yogurt into a small bowl and once your oil has been infused pour it on top of the yogurt.

Step 8: Dry Finishing

To finish off the lamb kofta sprinkle on some dried parsley on top and for the yogurt add on some mint.

The last side dish we will make will be some zatar flatbread! Get your pizza dough and cut it into four equal pieces. Roll them out into flatbreads add in some oil to a pan on medium heat. Place the flatbread in and let them cook for about 4 minutes on each side. Once they are out of the pan you can sprinkle on some zatar seasoning!

Step 9: Alcohol Infusion

In a small mason jar, add in some tequila and dried hibiscus. Set aside for later. This will be used to make a hibiscus & lime infused cocktail.

Step 10: Syrup

The last thing before you can eat your delish meal is to finish off the drink we started in step 1! We will need to make a simple syrup so start by heating up equal parts of water and sugar along with some cardamom pods. Let this come to a simmer for about 5 minutes and then set aside.

Now, In a small plate add in the black lime and salt. Rim the top of a cup with lime and dip the cup into the black lime mix. Pour in the hibiscus infused tequila, some ice, cardamom simple syrup, and top it off with some lemon lime sparkling water!

Recipe Details

Prep Time

20 mins

Cook Time

40 mins

Total Time

1 hr

By Brandon Muhawi

Senior Food Writer at Pro Home Cooks