A Pinch Of Thoughts

The Rarest (And Most Expensive) Spices You Want To Try At Least Once

Nowadays, we can easily find spices in countless supermarkets, online shops, and even specialty shops. And it is so easy to try brand new spices that we never had access to coming from any corner of the world.

Obviously, there are spices that are very common, like nutmeg or cinnamon. These are also more popular and you can easily find them. However, other spices are very difficult to locate as they are much less common. They will offer more interesting and richer flavors you can try.

If you want to try something very interesting, tastes that you never experienced, here are the rarest (and most expensive) spices you should try at least one time in your life.

Saffron

Saffron is well-known because it is the most expensive and one of the rarest spices you can find. The cost is an incredible $500 to $5,000 per one pound. This is a spice that comes from saffron crocus flower stigma and for you to have one pound of saffron, an incredible 75,000 flowers are needed.

Saffron has a very demanding production process. In order to grow blossoms a lot of land is needed. All of these sum up to drive the huge price tag.

The good news is that you just need a pinch of saffron in most recipes to obtain coloring and flavoring. The taste is slightly bitter but mostly sweet and floral. It is often added to sauces, paella, rice dishes, and seafood dishes.

Caraway Seeds

Caraway seeds are basically dried, fragrant fruits from the caraway plant. However, we do refer to these as seeds. Caraway seeds are slightly peppery and sweet in smell and will often be used to act as flavoring base inside savory dishes like cheddar cheese, cabbage soup, and sauerkraut. The seeds are also pretty good when it comes to adding some aroma to tasty baked goods like biscuits, cakes, and bread.

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You can use Caraway seeds when you are pickling and you should know that the seeds go great with pork and garlic. When you want to cook something that uses ground cumin, Caraway seeds act as a wonderful replacement. However, you should only use half of how much ground cumin is needed.

Sumac

Sumac is not that known as a spice. The wine-colored powder should be more popular since it is incredibly versatile. You get the powdered spice from dark red berries coming from the sumac bush, after being ground up. The bush is common in the Middle East.

Sumac has a pretty tangy flavor but it lacks the tartness we know in lemons. As a result, you can easily use it in dishes like fish, for meat dry rubs, hummus, and poultry. Iranians also use it with pepper and salt as a simple condiment. If you want to have a dish stand out, sumac might be a solution due to its bright color.

Grains Of Paradise

The name of this spice is definitely one that is hard to forget. It is basically a more intense and fragrant version of the black peppercorn. It comes from the same family as cardamon and ginger, with it being native to the West Africa region.

Grains Of Paradise are small and will add a higher heat than the black peppercorns, which is why they are sometimes preferred. The spice has notes of coriander, cardamon, nutmeg, ginger, citrus, and juniper. You can thus consider it for tagines, cakes, paellas, gingerbread, braises, and spice rubs, just to mention some examples. They can be added to regular pepper grinders whenever you want it.

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Asafoetida

This is a name you will have problems remembering but the spice is basically a gum resin. It comes from giant fennel, with a very strong smell. Its tastes are quite similar to that of garlic and onion. You will see it often being used in Indian dishes, especially by Brahmin and Jain Indians since they are not allowed to eat garlic and onions.

There are two forms of asafoetida poweder:

  • A brown one – very ground and concentrated, similar to a gum. Make sure you sparingly use it.
  • A yellow powder – it is diluted with turmeric or flour. You still need to be attentive to how much you add but not as much as with brown Asafoetida.

The top quality Asafoetida is a great mix of fenugreek and asafoetida. You see this use often in curries, stews, and vegetarian dishes for a flavor lift.

Annatto

You might also find this seed under the name achiote seeds. The spice is mild and comes from the Schiote tree, which is native to Central and South America. The color is very deep and red, so we often see Annatto being used in foods as natural coloring.

The peppery and sweet taste of Annatto is perfect for sauces, fish dishes, tandooris, and stocks. Just make sure you will buy the spice pre-ground. This is because seeds are very difficult to manually grind.

Juniper Berries

Juniper berries are one of the few spices that come from Europe and not more exotic locations. The tree is evergreen and it will produce dark, small purple berries. You can buy juniper berries dried. They have to eb crushed before you use them so that you get the maximum flavor. The taste of the berries is slightly bitter and tart. This makes it perfect for meat dishes, vegetarian dishes, cake frosting, jams, and tofu.

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Galangal

Last but not least, galangal is a very interesting root that is quite similar in appearance to ginger. It just has shinier and whiter skin. It is more citrus and features a pinier aroma when compared to what you get with ginger.

We often see Galangal used in Indonesian, Malaysian, and Thai recipes. You can add it to curries and fish dishes in order to get a fragrant, herbal, and zingy flavor. You will get so much more from the fresh root. However, Galangal is also available under the name Iao, which is practically the powder form of the root.

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