Tell me: Which is the one ingredient you love to cook with that you feel turns your dishes from simple to spectacular? I would love to know.

And to make it fun: enter a comment here and tell me about your favorite ingredient. I will pick one winner by the end of the day on Friday, Feb 25th 2011 and that person will win an autographed copy of Modern Spice along with packet of my fav ingredient – chaat masala.  So come on.. what are you waiting for? (US and Canada only please)

Need inspiration?

Check out my interview with some of my favorite chefs on what their favorite ingredient is. Chef Jose Andres loves passion fruit, Carla Hall loves lemon, read the story to find out who adores black truffle and who cannot live without verjus.

More stuff added to the giveaway!

Chef Jose Andres has generously donated his  “Made in Spain” series on PBS – the  full set of 26 episodes, 2 DVDS!! WOoohooo!!

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  1. Currently, I’m hooked onto Cajun Seasoning. I sprinkle it over almost everything! It pairs very well with Indian dishes.

  2. I would say its my mom’s homemade garam masala. I think it totally takes a recipe to different level.

  3. I’m a big fan of salts. All different kinds. I drag some back from wherever I travel. (and it ain’t always light!) It seems so basic, but makes all the difference to salads, potatoes or meats. Plus all the specialty salts like alea and himalayan pink salt have great flavor and look pretty in my kitchen, too!

  4. I like to add cinnamon to as many dishes as possible. It adds a unique flavor and more importantly, it is good for you. I keep reading more and more about the health benefits of cinnamon and I want to do all I can to help my family remain as healthy as possible!

  5. I love garlic and add it to just about anything. I’ve also been making my own spic blends to cut down on sodium.

    But garlic is still my favorite.

  6. Oh geez, it changes with my mood. Lately Spanish smoked Paprika. Or ground sumac berries.

  7. Ginger….! I cannot start the day without a sip of hot Ginger Chai tea! My mom’s Ginger fudge is my all time fav which not only cures cold, upset stomach etc but tastes super yummy too! Talk about “healthy” desserts. Needless to say Ginger finds its way in all other courses as well! Yup – Ginger is my thing and I am not talking about my hair 😉

  8. Cumin. I know cumin is in lots of Indian dishes, but its not in a lot of American ones. I sprinkle that in my scrambled eggs (lightly) and it makes such a pleasant difference.

  9. The original spice that became an obsession – pepper. I have black and white on hand and also enjoy red and green for various reasons. It adds such a nuttiness to food and a touch of heat as well. Black pepper on vanilla ice cream is an experience.

  10. Onions. Cooked, they bring class to humble eggs or grilled cheese sandwiches. Raw, they bring bite to pasta and bean salads. Sauteed, they become sweet. When they are cooked slowly to the point of caramelizing, they are silken and unctuous.

  11. Fresh Nugmeg, i throw it in coffee, eggnog, baking, spinach and many other dishes, I even have a special grinder for it and always have a nut floating around the spice cabinet!

  12. My Serbian origins pull me towards peppers. Sauteed sweet banana peppers with eggs and onions make an easy, healthy, and colorful breakfast. Chopped with onions and carrots they are the aromatic base for many stews, braises, and pilafs. Light yellow roundish hungarian peppers that pack a nice bite, filled with fresh, unpasteurized milk, which turns in time into this delectable spicy sour cream is a dish of my dreams.Do not even get me started on roasted peppers, especially red.
    So peppers it is:)

  13. Definitely cumin! It is a big player in meat dishes in Turkey and I try more with some vegetables as well!

    1. lemon, juice, rind, salted, dry, peel in sugar and salt. a vif of lemon brings the best out of anything in need of a little help, but as ingredient as well outstanding.. and the vitamins. unfortunately vi only have ordinary lemons, limes and sweet lemons (rarely) available where i live, but i work my way true loads of them and love the smell as well. love from copenhagen

  14. Salt, simple but makes everything taste better!

  15. Garlic and oil to start a recipe for any type of cuisine and then lot’s more garlic before you take the pot off the burner. Stews, sautes, roasts, dressings, are bland without it.

  16. Question is what would make my dish from simple to spectacular , am glad u didn ask for my fav spice , that would make this difficult!
    For me there’s jus one thing that makes even a simple salad spectacular, dress it up on the plate ,infusing with lods of love as u go…spot on ”love” has to be it!

  17. Really good olive oil or citrus zest – lemon, lime or orange. I like to use these to heighten flavors in a dish. Also, a touch of sea salt at the end of cooking, becuase I don’t use much salt. The grains clinging to the top of the food can sometimes make a big difference.

  18. I absolutely have to say wine! I add a nice white to almost all of my dishes… when cooking down tomatoes, after roasting a chicken, when cooking beans….it adds such a depth to everything. The other choice, since I can’t choose just one thing 🙂 would be lemon for sure. When I discovered how fabulous broccoli, asparagus, greens, and just about anything tastes after the addition of lemon I was blown away! I especially like the fact that it doesn’t add any fat but boosts the flavor incredibly.
    Thanks for the give away and your blog. Listened to the podcast of Splendid Table the other day with you…great show.

  19. Maldon salt!

  20. I’m kind of obsessed with citrus, especially lime and lemon, and my favorite spice is probably cinnamon, which makes everything irresitible.

  21. Cumin (whole), freshly ground or roasted. From pilaf to chutneys, salads, fish, etc it is always present.

  22. Yes, like you I love chaat masala too!! Goes into kebabs, marinade, vegetable topping, salads, even coke 🙂 But if I am allowed one ingredient, it will be ‘cumin’.

  23. Shallots always seem to elevate a dish and get a, “What IS that..?” from pleased guests.

  24. Our favorite ingredient is the “I wonder.” We browse the spice shelves at international markets wherever we go. When we find a blend we don’t recognize, we say, “I wonder what that’s like?” We have to have it. Our most recent acquisition is the Ethiopian blend mitmita. We use it in lentils, but it is great just mixed into melted ghee served with pitas.

  25. I am absolutely in love with both balsamic vinegar and Meyer lemons. Do I really have to choose???

  26. Garlic, either in fresh or even powdered form, does make a dish sing.

  27. The winner is Scott Johnston! Please email me your addy so we can get you modern spice and the made in span DVDs! Thanks to everyone for entering and sharing your favorite way to make a recipe shine!

  28. Please consider me even if I am in the Caribbean I do have a US address. My favourite ingredient is l tamarind sauce. it gives my stews a wonderful flavour. You can’t actually tell it’s there but if it isn’t you just know something is missing. Also I love it because my son is gluten intolerant and I had to find something that would replace Worcestershire sauce. It’s the key ingredient in my home-made mock Worcestershire sauce

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