Prepare the pantry, fill up the fridge, and get ready to celebrate foodie new year—all year long! These deliciously versatile ingredients will inspire plant-based, gluten-free, and allergy-friendly goodness in the kitchen any meal of the week. With the power to take any dish from basic to brag-worthy, here are spices, seasonings, and condiments we don’t want to go without in 2021.
Black salt (kala namak)
Originating in the Himalayas, kala namak is a pungent and savoury rock salt you’ll want to have on hand. Traditionally used as a finishing salt, black salt is a terrific way to bring eggy flavour to plant-based dishes. Kala namak infuses an egg-like sulphurous taste that’s otherwise hard to replicate with vegan ingredients. Black salt works wonders in chutneys and salads, but it truly shines in tofu-egg dishes. We loved incorporating black salt into our Dill Pickle Vegan Egg Salad Bagelwich to create a plant-based egg-like salad gluten-free sandwich!
Made from wild berries found in the Mediterranean, sumac is a tart and citrusy spice that brings zip and tang to any dish. In most kitchens, sumac can be used as a dry rub, marinade, or as a finishing spice. Fancy yourself an experimental chef? Try using sumac beyond the obvious—this spice is a sophisticated ingredient that can bring a foodie’s touch to dips, dressings and spreads. Sumac works well in homemade seasonings of all sorts. Keep reading to see how we incorporated sumac’s tangy berry taste into our no sesame za’atar blend below!
You don’t have to travel south to bring island flavours to your kitchen. Allspice is a key ingredient in Caribbean cooking with tons of savoury applications (think jerk!) but it can also bring a sweetness to dishes with its clove, cinnamon, and nutmeg-like taste. A dried brown berry of the tropical Pimenta dioica tree, you can find allspice in ground or whole-berry form. Ground allspice can be a sweet ingredient in puddings, soups, or sauces. And it can be paired with chili, garlic, ginger, mace, mustard, pepper, rosemary and thyme in savoury dishes, too. For the strongest flavour, use whole-berry allspice. Put it in a tea ball or tie it in cheesecloth to use it in brines or infused dishes.
Mexican cuisine is known for its bright, bold, and beautiful flavours, and this zingy seasoning is no exception! Tajin is a zippy Mexican powdered spice that blends together chili, salt, and dehydrated lime juice for a tangy taste. Traditionally, tajin is sprinkled over fresh fruits and vegetables, but we’ve found few limits to its usefulness. Try it as a zesty rub for grilled or roasted vegetables, a bright taco seasoning, mixed into guac or atop your favourite avocado toast. This seasoning has been magic on almost everything we’ve tried it on from simple rice to roasted to sweet potatoes to our Mexi Grilled Street Corn Toast.
This Japanese seasoning is a classic topping on rice, bursting with umami. With earthy ingredients like roasted nori and dried shiso leaves, this savoury blend all the versatility of Everything Bagel Seasoning, making it perfect for perfect avocado toast, hummus, or as a sandwich topper. We’ve found vegan furikake options on the shelf, but we couldn’t find one without sesame—so we made our own! Our No Sesame Homemade Vegan Furikake swaps in lightly toasted sunflower seeds in place of traditional sesame, and dulse flakes for bonito flakes for a seasoning that’s 100% plant-based and allergy-friendly. Now everyone can get in on the umami goodness! When sealed in an airtight container, our homemade furikake can last up to three months—but with daily reasons to use this topper, we doubt it will last that long!
Peppery, herbal, and oh-so-savoury, this Middle Eastern seasoning is a 2021 must! Za’atar is typically made with sesame seeds—a top allergen that we keep out of all Little Northern Bakehouse products. Instead of sesame, we used poppy seeds for an allergy-friendly version of this classic seasoning, which pairs perfectly with earthy herbs like thyme and fruity spices like sumac. Looking for gluten-free ways to enjoy za’atar? Traditionally used as a spice dip, marinade, or hummus topper, our No-Sesame Za’Atar Flatbread with Vegan Yogurt Dip is a tasty nod to za’atar’s most common use. For a modern twist, our No-Sesame Za’Atar Cream Cheese Gluten-Free Bagelwich slathers za’atar and non-dairy cream cheese across our chewy gluten-free bagels topped with roasted veggies.
Canned or Jarred Condiments:
Chickpeas are a pantry staple for most of us—but this go-to legume has applications that go beyond hummus, stew, or vegan chili. Most of us have enjoyed whole chickpeas in curries and salads, or puréed into a paste to make hummus. But don’t stop there. Bake and season chickpeas into a satisfyingly crunchy snack. Add chickpea flour into your gluten-free flour repertoire for savoury baking. And get to know the surprising vegan breakout super ingredient that comes in every can. Whip your way to fluffy, egg-free meringues and more with aquafaba—the leftover liquid usually rinsed off canned chickpeas to prevent bloating. This egg white substitute has sweet and savoury applications limited only by your imagination! Savvy plant-based cooks save aquafaba for everything from vegan meringue to chocolate mousse, to the marshmallow fluff we used in our fluffernutter sandwich.
The secret to this versatile Indonesian chili paste? Sambal oelek only needs a few key ingredients to shine—ground chili peppers, salt, and vinegar. Where sriracha has garlicky undertones, and gochujang is thicker like a paste, sambal oelek is a chili purists dream. With a load of chili pepper taste, sambal oelek carries a bit more moisture giving it a thinner consistency than other chili-based condiments. Because it tastes more distinctly like chili peppers than other sauces in this category, sambal oelek makes glazes, soups, or spicy sauces sing. Add it to your chili repertoire and you won’t be disappointed!
Similar to sambal oelek in terms of consistency, harissa takes on a different flavour profile entirely. Originating in Tunisia, harissa builds up from a sambal oelek base, plus garlic, oil, and other spices. Harissa’s flavour also comes from chilis, but it gets its complex profile from ingredients like cumin, coriander, or caraway, and sometimes citrus, too. Harissa makes a terrific curry and stew base, and stands out as a condiment alongside other dishes.
This thick, tangy marvel originated in the Middle East a method for preserving the bounty of pomegranates. Sweet and sour, thick and tart, and often compared to balsamic reduction, pomegranate molasses has a flavour all its own. If you love complex and tangy sauces, you’ll fall head over heels for pomegranate molasses. Delicious on its own, and a perfect complement to rich or salty dishes, chefs will often use pomegranate molasses in place of vinegar in marinades, as a glaze, or in dressings and dips. For the bold, you can try making your own pomegranate molasses, but it’s a fussy process that calls for patience. Much like making your own balsamic reduction DIY pomegranate molasses can’t be rushed—this is not a pot you can leave unwatched!
This loveable sweet and sour fruit from Africa has earned a place in the hearts of cuisines around the globe. From South and Southeast Asia to Mexico, and from Africa to England, tamarind shines. More sour when unripe or dried, tamarind can be enjoyed whole, or as a paste, purée or concentrate. Used whole in savoury Asian meals, tamarind adds a distinct taste to noodle and curry dishes. Diluted and combined with other ingredients, it’s essential in many jerk and barbeque sauces. Tamarind is the secret ingredient that gives HP sauce its trademark zing!
Cuisines from North Africa, the Middle East, and the Mediterranean have preserved bumper crops of lemons with salt for centuries. Other fruit preservation methods can sweeten or mellow the flavour of a fresh fruit. Not so with preserved lemon. Salt curing takes lemon’s flavour and amplifies it ×1,000! The intense, concentrated flavour of preserved lemons adds salty, zesty depth to a wide variety of dishes. Cook preserved lemons into stews. Add them to salsas or sauces. Or give grains a citrusy and floral taste. And yes, you can eat the whole lemon—including the rind!
Can’t find preserved lemons in a store near you? Don’t let that keep you from experiencing this explosion of lemony goodness. Preserved lemons are one of the easier things to make at home! A quick internet search, a jar, fresh lemons, lemon juice, and plenty of salt are all you need. Okay, and 4 to 6 weeks of patience!
See how we incorporate ingredients like these spices, seasonings, and condiments into our gluten-free and allergy-friendly recipes each month! Scroll down to subscribe to the Little Northern Bakehouse monthly newsletter. And follow us @littlenorthernbakehouse on Instagram, too!