Blending spices gives you the opportunity to create unique flavors to enhance your dishes with a combination of spices that are distinctly representative of you and your culinary style. The key to good homemade spice blends, like the herbaceous Za’atar Seasoning or the coriander-and-cumin-forward Shawarma Seasoning, is starting with a good idea. Consider these four guiding principles before you begin: inspiration, flavor, texture, and appearance.
Start by listing your ingredients before you begin blending. This will help you identify if you’re going in the right direction. I suggest you limit yourself to no more than seven ingredients. Always use a scale, and write down the exact quantities, preferably in grams for precision and simplicity. Keep each ingredient in a separate container, and take notes on any adjustments.
Toast or roast your spices to add dimension. You want to achieve as many layers of flavor and texture as possible, from gentle warming to a dark roast. Don’t forget to note the details as you go.
Decide which spices you want to grind and to what size. Use a coffee grinder, and grind each spice separately, taking notes so you can re-create or adjust next time.
Blend the spices. When the spices are ready (roasted, toasted, ground, or whole), stir them together. Allow the mixture to cool if necessary, and store it in an airtight container out of direct sunlight.
Finally, evaluate the results. Start by analyzing your blend visually, and then taste it. Do you like it? Does it deliver on the initial idea? Which flavors and notes does it give? Analyze the texture as well. Does it make sense for the intended use? Make small adjustments if it’s just about right, or start over.
Once you’re happy with the blend, the real testing begins: Start cooking! Try your blend first in a simple dish and experiment using it on familiar dishes. Try adding your blend before or after you cook. Does it work best as a marinade, generous sprinkling just before cooking, or a finishing touch? Ask yourself these questions when you’re testing.
Congratulations, you just created a spice blend! Name your blend after the source of inspiration or for the preparation it was made for.