Budget Vegan Tips: Spice Mixes

I promised this post for you guys last week but due to my prior fiction writing commitments, I ended up pushing it off until today. That said, I hope it’s worth the wait!

As I mentioned in last weeks Budget Vegan Tips on grinding your own spices, getting them whole and in bulk can save you a TON of money. Ditto for spice mixes as well! If you enjoy ethnic food, you’ll know that there are PLENTY of spice mixes, condiments, and sauces that are used around the world and sold in little jars for exorbitant prices here in the States and in Europe. It’s pretty easy to make quite a few of them at home, and once you start making your own, you can tweak it to your liking.

Below I’d like to share with you a few of my favorites. Some have been passed down in my family, others I’ve picked up from books and other places but lost the original source. Anything that has been directly adapted from a book or website I’ll make sure to credit the author and link the book so you can check it out. That said, here you go:

Thai Curry Pastes

Indian Spice Mixes

General/Domestic Spice mixes

Red Curry Paste

  • 10 dried chiles de arbol or chiles japones
  • 1 1/2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 stalk lemongrass
  • 2 tbsp minced fresh cilantro
  • 2 tbsp minced shallots
  • 1 tbsp chopped garlic
  • 1 1/2 tsp minced fresh ginger, or 2 tsp minced pickled ginger
  • 1/2 tsp grated lime peel
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Stem the chiles and remove the seeds, if you would like to mellow out the heat. Break apart and soak in warm water for 20-30 minutes.

Toast the coriander and cumin in a dry skillet over medium heat for 2-3 minutes, then remove to a small bowl or spice grinder. Combine with the pepper and grind finely, then set aside.

Trim and discard the roots before the bulb base of the lemongrass along with the top leaves, then finely chop the stalk. Drain the chiles and combine them with the lemongrass, toasted spices, and the remaining ingredients in a food processor. Grind until you have a fine puree, even if you have to scrape the mixture down the sides every so often. Scrape into a small jar and keep refrigerated for up to a month.

Green Curry Paste

  • 2 fresh jalapenos
  • 1 1/2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1/1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 stalk lemongrass
  • 2 tbsp minced cilantro
  • 2 tbsp minced shallots or red onion
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp minced ginger
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Remove the seeds and ribs in the jalapenos, then mince. Set aside.

Toast the coriander and cumin in a dry skillet over medium heat for 2-3 minutes, then remove to a small bowl or spice grinder. Combine with the pepper and grind finely, then set aside.

Trim and discard the roots before the bulb base of the lemongrass along with the top leaves, then finely chop the stalk.Combine the chiles with the lemongrass, toasted spices, and the remaining ingredients in a food processor. Grind until you have a fine puree, even if you have to scrape the mixture down the sides every so often. Scrape into a small jar and keep refrigerated for up to a month.

Yellow Curry Paste

  • 10 dried chiles de arbol or chiles japones
  • 1 1/2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 stalk lemongrass
  • 2 tbsp minced fresh cilantro
  • 2 tbsp minced shallots
  • 1 tbsp chopped garlic
  • 1 1/2 tsp minced fresh ginger, or 2 tsp minced pickled ginger
  • 1/2 tsp grated lime peel
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp Hot Yellow Curry Powder (see above)
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric

Stem the chiles and remove the seeds, if you would like to mellow out the heat. Break apart and soak in warm water for 20-30 minutes.

Toast the coriander and cumin in a dry skillet over medium heat for 2-3 minutes, then remove to a small bowl or spice grinder. Combine with the pepper and grind finely, then set aside.

Trim and discard the roots before the bulb base of the lemongrass along with the top leaves, then finely chop the stalk. Drain the chiles and combine them with the lemongrass, toasted spices, and the remaining ingredients in a food processor. Grind until you have a fine puree, even if you have to scrape the mixture down the sides every so often. Scrape into a small jar and keep refrigerated for up to a month.

Garam Masala

  • 1/4 cup coriander seeds (whole)
  • 2 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 3 2″ cinnamon sticks
  • 4 cardamom pods (preferably black) seeded
  • 1 tbsp green cardamom pods
  • 1 tbsp cloves
  • 1.5 tsp peppercorns
  • 5 bay leaves

Toast all of the spices for 2-4 minutes on medium heat, until very fragrant. Cool fully, then grind the cinnamon sticks into a fine powder. Add the rest of the ingredients to the spice grinder one at a time, grind each into a fine powdered mix. Store for up to a year in an airtight container.

Hot Yellow Curry Powder

  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp powdered ginger
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp garam masala (above)
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp yellow mustard seeds
  • 3/4 tsp sea salt
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 1 clove
  • 2 green cardamom pods

Toast the cumin seeds, coriander seeds, cardamom pods, clove, yellow mustard seeds, cayenne, and bay leaves over medium heat for 4-5 minutes, until fragrant. Combine in a spice grinder with the rest of the ingredients, blend until a fine powder. Use in curries, with rice, and anywhere curry powder is called for. Feel free to adjust the cayenne if it’s too spicy!

Panch Phoron

  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp anise
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp nigella
  • 1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds

Combine the whole spices and store in an airtight container. When using, cook in hot oil for a few minutes first, then add vegetables or the beginnings of a dal and proceed with cooking as normal. Adds a nice spicy kick to many Indian side dishes!

Old Bay Seasoning

  • • 2 tbsp celery salt
  • • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • • 1/8 tsp ground dry mustard
  • • 1/8 tsp  ground mace (may substitute a teensy pinch nutmeg)
  • • 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
  • • 1/8 tsp ground cardamom
  • • 1/8 tsp ground allspice
  • • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • • 1/8 tsp ground ginger

This one actually came from Epicurious, but the mix is perfect and I wanted to share it with you all anyhow. Combine all of the ingredients above and seal in an airtight container for up to a year.

Italian Seasoning

  • 1 tbsp dried basil
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 1/2 tsp garlic granules
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp dried marjoram
  • 1/2 tsp dried tarragon

Combine all ingredients and store in an airtight container or jar for up to 6 months.

Pumpkin Pie Spice

  • 3 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 3/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 3/4 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves

Combine all ingredients and store in an airtight container or jar for up to 6 months.

Chili Powder

  • 2 tbsp ground ancho chiles
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder

Combine all ingredients and store in an airtight container or jar for up to 6 months.

Taco Seasoning

  • 1 tbsp chili powder (see above)
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp regular paprika
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vegan sugar
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp chipotle chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin

Combine all ingredients in a spice grinder and grind until powdered. Store in an airtight container or jar for up to 6 months

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