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This is the year of spices, and we’re not talking about garam masala and Chinese five spice. From Japan to Ethiopia, and earthy to sweet and spicy, there’s a whole range of blends that are waiting to be discovered and added to your meals. While recipes abound on the Internet to make your own at home, you’ll be surprised to find that most local spice merchants actually carry many (if not all) of these mixes. Cooking this year is going to take your taste buds around the world. No plane ticket required. Feeling a little intimidated? Don’t be.

Here, we walk you through each blend, giving you the skinny on what they’re made of and how to use ’em. Go on, live a little. And try:

Panch Phoron (India)

Literally translated as “five spices”, this heady blend is a staple in kitchens on India’s east coast, particularly the state of west Bengal. It’s also known as Bengali five spice and is characterized by a pungent aroma and slightly bitter aftertaste.

What’s in it?

Equal parts of cumin, mustard, fennel, Nigella and fenugreek seeds. Typically, panch phoron is never ground to a fine powder, but is instead used whole or coarsely pounded. Remember, less is more when it comes to using this blend, as it has a very strong flavour.blend-1

How do you use it?

Most recipes that call for panch phoron require it to be tempered first in ghee or oil, so that the seeds “pop” and start to impart their flavour. It’s commonly used in vegetable, lentil and fish recipes, but can also be sprinkled over meat and poultry as a seasoning.

Try it.

From potatoes to cauliflower, squash and greens, panch phoron enhances the flavour of veggies with just a quick sauté. It works well as a barbecue rub for steak, too, and can be used as a pickling spice and (surprise!) pairs wonderfully with pineapple and coconut.

Dukkah (Egypt)

In the native tongue, the word dukkah means “to pound” or “crush”, which describes the preparation method. Recipes vary, but there’s one common thread—it’s a coarse, dry mix, never a paste. Fun fact: It’s actually really popular in Australia and New Zealand.

What’s in it?

A base nut (that can range from hazelnuts, pistachios, cashews, almonds, pine nuts to macadamia nuts) or a combination of a few and a blend of sesame, coriander and cumin seeds. Sometimes additional mix-ins like dried herbs, lemon peel or chilies are included.

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How do you use it?

Traditionally dukkah is served as a snack with bread and olive oil. You dunk the flatbread in the olive oil, then in the dukkah and devour. It’s also sprinkled over yogurt-based dips, in marinades and (if chunky enough) can be eaten plain as a nutritious snack.

Try it.

Roasted vegetables like Brussels sprouts, carrots and sweet potato taste wonderful drizzled with tahini and garnished with dukkah. Use it to add crunch to salads, create a tasty crust on fish or chicken or roll balls of goat cheese in it for one-bite appetizers.

Shichimi Togarashi (Japan)

You’ve noticed it on the table at your local Japanese restaurant, but probably never used it. Meaning “seven flavour chili pepper”, it can be traced all the way back to 17th century apothecaries in Japan, when chilies were believed to be a form of medicine.

What’s in it?

A whole lot! Generally it includes: Japanese pepper sansho (or black peppercorns), dried tangerine peel, red chile pepper, nori, black sesame seeds, white poppy seeds and garlic.

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How do you use it?

A generous shake can perk up everything from rice and noodles to grilled meats and soup. Its multiple layers of flavour take your taste buds on a whirlwind journey, with a quick forward heat followed by the fragrant notes of citrus and seaweed.

Try it.

Rub it over meat or fish before grilling. Toss French fries and popcorn for added heat, garnish fried eggs and avocado toast or punch up batter for fried chicken and tempura. Although mostly used as a garnish, it works in marinades and sauces as well.

Advieh (Persia)

Sweet and warming, advieh is often compared to Indian garam masala, though it is much milder and not spicy. It’s usually available in two varieties: Advieh-e polo (for rice dishes) and Advieh-e khoresh (for meats and stews [khoresh]).

What’s in it?

An aromatic cornucopia of cinnamon, nutmeg, rose petals, cardamom and cumin. Cooks usually have their own personal variation of the blend with add-ons ranging from turmeric, ginger, cloves, sesame seeds, saffron, mace, star anise, pistachios and more.blend-4

How do you use it?

Cooked rice (AKA pilaf) is often garnished with advieh before serving. It adds a sweet, earthy tone to chicken and meat kebabs, stews (lentil, vegetable and meat), vegetables and even rice pudding. Blends with coriander are usually reserved for fish.

Try it.

Sprinkle with abandon over roasted or grilled vegetables like sweet potatoes, squash or carrots. Add a dash to burgers, sausages or steaks before cooking. For something out of the box, try adding a pinch to eggs when making an omelette or frittata.

Berbere (Ethiopia)

Not surprisingly, berbere means “hot” in Amharic. A sweet and savoury chili and spice blend, it is indispensible in Ethiopian cooking and is a chief ingredient in the country’s national dish, Doro Wat, a chicken stew made with spicy clarified butter (nit’ir qibe).

What’s in it?

Plenty of flavour attitude in the form of ground coriander seeds, cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds, black peppercorns, all-spice berries, cardamom, cloves, dried red chilies, sweet paprika, nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon and turmeric.

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How do you use it?

Extremely versatile, berbere can be used as a rub, or mixed into a paste or garnish. Traditionally it is present in slow-cooked meat, stew and bean recipes, but can be used for vegetables, fish and yogurt-based dips and marinades as well.

Try it.

Put a twist on Sunday roast chicken or lamb chops by rubbing it with the spice before cooking. Mix it with olive oil and toss it with veggies pre-roasting. Also? Try adding it to burgers and meatballs, or brush toasted bread and corn on the cob with berbere-infused butter.