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New Spices for Your Spice Rack

New Spices for Your Spice Rack


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Kitchens are opening up to the world’s cuisines — we’re far beyond the days of dried basil and oregano, when bay leaves and curry powder were about as exotic as you got in the grocery store spice aisle. With a boost in ethnic diversity and an increased demand for exotic ingredients at home, more and more spices are becoming available, and boutique spice shops are popping up for those interested in sourcing the very best. Spices — and spice blends — are a great way to boost flavor in your cooking without adding fat or calories — finding a few great ones can add depth to everything from meat to veggies to beverages. Here are a dozen you may not be familiar with — all are worth getting to know a little better.

— julievr, Babble

Star Anise

Native to China and Vietnam, star anise is the fruit of an evergreen magnolia tree. It's stunningly beautiful — a hard star-shaped pod, it is often ground and used in spice blends like garam masala, Chinese five-spice powder, and chai. Try simmering whole star anise in tea or lemonade concentrate, or steep in cream before whipping it or making creme brûlée or ice cream. (Some info from Silk Road Spice Merchant)

Turmeric

Brilliant yellow turmeric is what gives rice dishes their lively color. A member of the ginger family, its rhizomes are boiled and then dried in hot ovens before being ground into a deep orange-yellow powder. Turmeric is delicious in rice dishes, with eggs, in curries and tagines, and even when making sweet butter pickles. (Some info from
Silk Road Spice Merchant)

Black Cardamom

Rough, smoky (a result of drying over open flame) black cardamom doesn't resemble its green counterpart; it's often used in spice blends like garam masala, and adds depth to braised meats in Chinese cuisine. (Source: Silk Road Spice Merchant)

Allspice Berries

Allspice is a familiar addition to gingerbread and other aromatic baked goods, but they're often unrecognized in dried berry form. Buy allspice berries and grind them yourself — or simmer whole in dishes like mulled cider (remove them before serving) — for the best flavor.

Ethiopian Berbere

This multipurpose Ethiopian/North African spice blend is available made with whole spices or ground into a fine powder; it might contain ginger, fenugreek, chiles, cumin, coriander, and cloves. Try it in stews, or as a dry rub for meats destined for the grill. (Source:
Silk Road Spice Merchant)

Click here for more New Spices for Your Spice Rack.

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For the Spice Rack That Has Everything

NIRMALA NARINE has her eye on your spice rack. "Spices are the soul of every cuisine," said Ms. Narine, 35, an entrepreneur in Long Island City, Queens. "And as sophisticated as we may have become, there is still plenty to learn."

Nirmala Narine grinds spices for the blends she sells through her Long Island City company.

Broadening the Palate Is Their Specialty (July 13, 2005)

What she would like home cooks to learn is that ground bush tomato, an Australian seasoning, adds richness to fish. That South African peri-peri, a chili blend, does wonders for scrambled eggs. And that ground lemon myrtle might send your herbes de Provence into early retirement.

Ms. Narine, who immigrated from Guyana with her family when she was 11, went to school in Queens, and graduated from John Jay College. "I was always involved in food," she said. Her instinct for business flowered early. "I remember growing habanero peppers when I was a kid, maybe I was 6, and selling them to buy shoes."

Her determination to bring unusual spices to the American market began a few years ago when she visited a spice plantation on Zanzibar, off the coast of Tanzania. Having worked in real estate, run a limousine company and owned a gift basket company, she was interested in a new challenge. She started Nirmala's Kitchen three years ago, importing unusual spices, blending them, and selling them to specialty stores and online.

Ms. Narine has a particular sensibility to the blending of spices. "You can't generalize about curries," she said, because the ones available in the Caribbean "are vastly different from the ones you find in various parts of India."

Her line includes six masala and curry blends from India, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Thailand and the West Indies, among others, each with a different keynote (cumin, chili or ginger). She has the spices roasted and ground, then blends them in her workshop and packs them in airtight metal tins.

She keeps green coconuts in the refrigerator in her office and a machete nearby, ready to whack off their tops, insert a straw and offer a visitor a refreshing thirst quencher. "I used to use this machete to kill chickens," she said.

She has traveled to Asia, South America, Africa and the Middle East to find new spices and the sources for them. In the fall she plans to add new seasonings like sumac, Aleppo pepper and Oman black limes. She is devoted to indigenous cuisines in countries like Peru, Australia and Tanzania.

In addition to more than three dozen spices and blends, she imports seasoned rice, including a highly aromatic red rice from Kerala in southern India and spiced North African couscous. The grains, in clear plastic jars with bamboo paper tops, come preseasoned and ready to cook with the addition of water and olive oil to make four to six servings. She has some unusual salts, like a Japanese sea salt seasoned with matcha green tea powder.

Most of the spices and grains are $6.95 to $13.95. They are sold at Dean & DeLuca, among other stores, and at nirmalaskitchen.com.

Some of Ms. Narine's products are also sold in the gift shop at the American Museum of Natural History in New York and the Smithsonian Institution in Washington. "As well as my company is doing, I think I'm proudest of the recognition this gives me," she said.


For the Spice Rack That Has Everything

NIRMALA NARINE has her eye on your spice rack. "Spices are the soul of every cuisine," said Ms. Narine, 35, an entrepreneur in Long Island City, Queens. "And as sophisticated as we may have become, there is still plenty to learn."

Nirmala Narine grinds spices for the blends she sells through her Long Island City company.

Broadening the Palate Is Their Specialty (July 13, 2005)

What she would like home cooks to learn is that ground bush tomato, an Australian seasoning, adds richness to fish. That South African peri-peri, a chili blend, does wonders for scrambled eggs. And that ground lemon myrtle might send your herbes de Provence into early retirement.

Ms. Narine, who immigrated from Guyana with her family when she was 11, went to school in Queens, and graduated from John Jay College. "I was always involved in food," she said. Her instinct for business flowered early. "I remember growing habanero peppers when I was a kid, maybe I was 6, and selling them to buy shoes."

Her determination to bring unusual spices to the American market began a few years ago when she visited a spice plantation on Zanzibar, off the coast of Tanzania. Having worked in real estate, run a limousine company and owned a gift basket company, she was interested in a new challenge. She started Nirmala's Kitchen three years ago, importing unusual spices, blending them, and selling them to specialty stores and online.

Ms. Narine has a particular sensibility to the blending of spices. "You can't generalize about curries," she said, because the ones available in the Caribbean "are vastly different from the ones you find in various parts of India."

Her line includes six masala and curry blends from India, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Thailand and the West Indies, among others, each with a different keynote (cumin, chili or ginger). She has the spices roasted and ground, then blends them in her workshop and packs them in airtight metal tins.

She keeps green coconuts in the refrigerator in her office and a machete nearby, ready to whack off their tops, insert a straw and offer a visitor a refreshing thirst quencher. "I used to use this machete to kill chickens," she said.

She has traveled to Asia, South America, Africa and the Middle East to find new spices and the sources for them. In the fall she plans to add new seasonings like sumac, Aleppo pepper and Oman black limes. She is devoted to indigenous cuisines in countries like Peru, Australia and Tanzania.

In addition to more than three dozen spices and blends, she imports seasoned rice, including a highly aromatic red rice from Kerala in southern India and spiced North African couscous. The grains, in clear plastic jars with bamboo paper tops, come preseasoned and ready to cook with the addition of water and olive oil to make four to six servings. She has some unusual salts, like a Japanese sea salt seasoned with matcha green tea powder.

Most of the spices and grains are $6.95 to $13.95. They are sold at Dean & DeLuca, among other stores, and at nirmalaskitchen.com.

Some of Ms. Narine's products are also sold in the gift shop at the American Museum of Natural History in New York and the Smithsonian Institution in Washington. "As well as my company is doing, I think I'm proudest of the recognition this gives me," she said.


For the Spice Rack That Has Everything

NIRMALA NARINE has her eye on your spice rack. "Spices are the soul of every cuisine," said Ms. Narine, 35, an entrepreneur in Long Island City, Queens. "And as sophisticated as we may have become, there is still plenty to learn."

Nirmala Narine grinds spices for the blends she sells through her Long Island City company.

Broadening the Palate Is Their Specialty (July 13, 2005)

What she would like home cooks to learn is that ground bush tomato, an Australian seasoning, adds richness to fish. That South African peri-peri, a chili blend, does wonders for scrambled eggs. And that ground lemon myrtle might send your herbes de Provence into early retirement.

Ms. Narine, who immigrated from Guyana with her family when she was 11, went to school in Queens, and graduated from John Jay College. "I was always involved in food," she said. Her instinct for business flowered early. "I remember growing habanero peppers when I was a kid, maybe I was 6, and selling them to buy shoes."

Her determination to bring unusual spices to the American market began a few years ago when she visited a spice plantation on Zanzibar, off the coast of Tanzania. Having worked in real estate, run a limousine company and owned a gift basket company, she was interested in a new challenge. She started Nirmala's Kitchen three years ago, importing unusual spices, blending them, and selling them to specialty stores and online.

Ms. Narine has a particular sensibility to the blending of spices. "You can't generalize about curries," she said, because the ones available in the Caribbean "are vastly different from the ones you find in various parts of India."

Her line includes six masala and curry blends from India, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Thailand and the West Indies, among others, each with a different keynote (cumin, chili or ginger). She has the spices roasted and ground, then blends them in her workshop and packs them in airtight metal tins.

She keeps green coconuts in the refrigerator in her office and a machete nearby, ready to whack off their tops, insert a straw and offer a visitor a refreshing thirst quencher. "I used to use this machete to kill chickens," she said.

She has traveled to Asia, South America, Africa and the Middle East to find new spices and the sources for them. In the fall she plans to add new seasonings like sumac, Aleppo pepper and Oman black limes. She is devoted to indigenous cuisines in countries like Peru, Australia and Tanzania.

In addition to more than three dozen spices and blends, she imports seasoned rice, including a highly aromatic red rice from Kerala in southern India and spiced North African couscous. The grains, in clear plastic jars with bamboo paper tops, come preseasoned and ready to cook with the addition of water and olive oil to make four to six servings. She has some unusual salts, like a Japanese sea salt seasoned with matcha green tea powder.

Most of the spices and grains are $6.95 to $13.95. They are sold at Dean & DeLuca, among other stores, and at nirmalaskitchen.com.

Some of Ms. Narine's products are also sold in the gift shop at the American Museum of Natural History in New York and the Smithsonian Institution in Washington. "As well as my company is doing, I think I'm proudest of the recognition this gives me," she said.


For the Spice Rack That Has Everything

NIRMALA NARINE has her eye on your spice rack. "Spices are the soul of every cuisine," said Ms. Narine, 35, an entrepreneur in Long Island City, Queens. "And as sophisticated as we may have become, there is still plenty to learn."

Nirmala Narine grinds spices for the blends she sells through her Long Island City company.

Broadening the Palate Is Their Specialty (July 13, 2005)

What she would like home cooks to learn is that ground bush tomato, an Australian seasoning, adds richness to fish. That South African peri-peri, a chili blend, does wonders for scrambled eggs. And that ground lemon myrtle might send your herbes de Provence into early retirement.

Ms. Narine, who immigrated from Guyana with her family when she was 11, went to school in Queens, and graduated from John Jay College. "I was always involved in food," she said. Her instinct for business flowered early. "I remember growing habanero peppers when I was a kid, maybe I was 6, and selling them to buy shoes."

Her determination to bring unusual spices to the American market began a few years ago when she visited a spice plantation on Zanzibar, off the coast of Tanzania. Having worked in real estate, run a limousine company and owned a gift basket company, she was interested in a new challenge. She started Nirmala's Kitchen three years ago, importing unusual spices, blending them, and selling them to specialty stores and online.

Ms. Narine has a particular sensibility to the blending of spices. "You can't generalize about curries," she said, because the ones available in the Caribbean "are vastly different from the ones you find in various parts of India."

Her line includes six masala and curry blends from India, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Thailand and the West Indies, among others, each with a different keynote (cumin, chili or ginger). She has the spices roasted and ground, then blends them in her workshop and packs them in airtight metal tins.

She keeps green coconuts in the refrigerator in her office and a machete nearby, ready to whack off their tops, insert a straw and offer a visitor a refreshing thirst quencher. "I used to use this machete to kill chickens," she said.

She has traveled to Asia, South America, Africa and the Middle East to find new spices and the sources for them. In the fall she plans to add new seasonings like sumac, Aleppo pepper and Oman black limes. She is devoted to indigenous cuisines in countries like Peru, Australia and Tanzania.

In addition to more than three dozen spices and blends, she imports seasoned rice, including a highly aromatic red rice from Kerala in southern India and spiced North African couscous. The grains, in clear plastic jars with bamboo paper tops, come preseasoned and ready to cook with the addition of water and olive oil to make four to six servings. She has some unusual salts, like a Japanese sea salt seasoned with matcha green tea powder.

Most of the spices and grains are $6.95 to $13.95. They are sold at Dean & DeLuca, among other stores, and at nirmalaskitchen.com.

Some of Ms. Narine's products are also sold in the gift shop at the American Museum of Natural History in New York and the Smithsonian Institution in Washington. "As well as my company is doing, I think I'm proudest of the recognition this gives me," she said.


For the Spice Rack That Has Everything

NIRMALA NARINE has her eye on your spice rack. "Spices are the soul of every cuisine," said Ms. Narine, 35, an entrepreneur in Long Island City, Queens. "And as sophisticated as we may have become, there is still plenty to learn."

Nirmala Narine grinds spices for the blends she sells through her Long Island City company.

Broadening the Palate Is Their Specialty (July 13, 2005)

What she would like home cooks to learn is that ground bush tomato, an Australian seasoning, adds richness to fish. That South African peri-peri, a chili blend, does wonders for scrambled eggs. And that ground lemon myrtle might send your herbes de Provence into early retirement.

Ms. Narine, who immigrated from Guyana with her family when she was 11, went to school in Queens, and graduated from John Jay College. "I was always involved in food," she said. Her instinct for business flowered early. "I remember growing habanero peppers when I was a kid, maybe I was 6, and selling them to buy shoes."

Her determination to bring unusual spices to the American market began a few years ago when she visited a spice plantation on Zanzibar, off the coast of Tanzania. Having worked in real estate, run a limousine company and owned a gift basket company, she was interested in a new challenge. She started Nirmala's Kitchen three years ago, importing unusual spices, blending them, and selling them to specialty stores and online.

Ms. Narine has a particular sensibility to the blending of spices. "You can't generalize about curries," she said, because the ones available in the Caribbean "are vastly different from the ones you find in various parts of India."

Her line includes six masala and curry blends from India, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Thailand and the West Indies, among others, each with a different keynote (cumin, chili or ginger). She has the spices roasted and ground, then blends them in her workshop and packs them in airtight metal tins.

She keeps green coconuts in the refrigerator in her office and a machete nearby, ready to whack off their tops, insert a straw and offer a visitor a refreshing thirst quencher. "I used to use this machete to kill chickens," she said.

She has traveled to Asia, South America, Africa and the Middle East to find new spices and the sources for them. In the fall she plans to add new seasonings like sumac, Aleppo pepper and Oman black limes. She is devoted to indigenous cuisines in countries like Peru, Australia and Tanzania.

In addition to more than three dozen spices and blends, she imports seasoned rice, including a highly aromatic red rice from Kerala in southern India and spiced North African couscous. The grains, in clear plastic jars with bamboo paper tops, come preseasoned and ready to cook with the addition of water and olive oil to make four to six servings. She has some unusual salts, like a Japanese sea salt seasoned with matcha green tea powder.

Most of the spices and grains are $6.95 to $13.95. They are sold at Dean & DeLuca, among other stores, and at nirmalaskitchen.com.

Some of Ms. Narine's products are also sold in the gift shop at the American Museum of Natural History in New York and the Smithsonian Institution in Washington. "As well as my company is doing, I think I'm proudest of the recognition this gives me," she said.


For the Spice Rack That Has Everything

NIRMALA NARINE has her eye on your spice rack. "Spices are the soul of every cuisine," said Ms. Narine, 35, an entrepreneur in Long Island City, Queens. "And as sophisticated as we may have become, there is still plenty to learn."

Nirmala Narine grinds spices for the blends she sells through her Long Island City company.

Broadening the Palate Is Their Specialty (July 13, 2005)

What she would like home cooks to learn is that ground bush tomato, an Australian seasoning, adds richness to fish. That South African peri-peri, a chili blend, does wonders for scrambled eggs. And that ground lemon myrtle might send your herbes de Provence into early retirement.

Ms. Narine, who immigrated from Guyana with her family when she was 11, went to school in Queens, and graduated from John Jay College. "I was always involved in food," she said. Her instinct for business flowered early. "I remember growing habanero peppers when I was a kid, maybe I was 6, and selling them to buy shoes."

Her determination to bring unusual spices to the American market began a few years ago when she visited a spice plantation on Zanzibar, off the coast of Tanzania. Having worked in real estate, run a limousine company and owned a gift basket company, she was interested in a new challenge. She started Nirmala's Kitchen three years ago, importing unusual spices, blending them, and selling them to specialty stores and online.

Ms. Narine has a particular sensibility to the blending of spices. "You can't generalize about curries," she said, because the ones available in the Caribbean "are vastly different from the ones you find in various parts of India."

Her line includes six masala and curry blends from India, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Thailand and the West Indies, among others, each with a different keynote (cumin, chili or ginger). She has the spices roasted and ground, then blends them in her workshop and packs them in airtight metal tins.

She keeps green coconuts in the refrigerator in her office and a machete nearby, ready to whack off their tops, insert a straw and offer a visitor a refreshing thirst quencher. "I used to use this machete to kill chickens," she said.

She has traveled to Asia, South America, Africa and the Middle East to find new spices and the sources for them. In the fall she plans to add new seasonings like sumac, Aleppo pepper and Oman black limes. She is devoted to indigenous cuisines in countries like Peru, Australia and Tanzania.

In addition to more than three dozen spices and blends, she imports seasoned rice, including a highly aromatic red rice from Kerala in southern India and spiced North African couscous. The grains, in clear plastic jars with bamboo paper tops, come preseasoned and ready to cook with the addition of water and olive oil to make four to six servings. She has some unusual salts, like a Japanese sea salt seasoned with matcha green tea powder.

Most of the spices and grains are $6.95 to $13.95. They are sold at Dean & DeLuca, among other stores, and at nirmalaskitchen.com.

Some of Ms. Narine's products are also sold in the gift shop at the American Museum of Natural History in New York and the Smithsonian Institution in Washington. "As well as my company is doing, I think I'm proudest of the recognition this gives me," she said.


For the Spice Rack That Has Everything

NIRMALA NARINE has her eye on your spice rack. "Spices are the soul of every cuisine," said Ms. Narine, 35, an entrepreneur in Long Island City, Queens. "And as sophisticated as we may have become, there is still plenty to learn."

Nirmala Narine grinds spices for the blends she sells through her Long Island City company.

Broadening the Palate Is Their Specialty (July 13, 2005)

What she would like home cooks to learn is that ground bush tomato, an Australian seasoning, adds richness to fish. That South African peri-peri, a chili blend, does wonders for scrambled eggs. And that ground lemon myrtle might send your herbes de Provence into early retirement.

Ms. Narine, who immigrated from Guyana with her family when she was 11, went to school in Queens, and graduated from John Jay College. "I was always involved in food," she said. Her instinct for business flowered early. "I remember growing habanero peppers when I was a kid, maybe I was 6, and selling them to buy shoes."

Her determination to bring unusual spices to the American market began a few years ago when she visited a spice plantation on Zanzibar, off the coast of Tanzania. Having worked in real estate, run a limousine company and owned a gift basket company, she was interested in a new challenge. She started Nirmala's Kitchen three years ago, importing unusual spices, blending them, and selling them to specialty stores and online.

Ms. Narine has a particular sensibility to the blending of spices. "You can't generalize about curries," she said, because the ones available in the Caribbean "are vastly different from the ones you find in various parts of India."

Her line includes six masala and curry blends from India, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Thailand and the West Indies, among others, each with a different keynote (cumin, chili or ginger). She has the spices roasted and ground, then blends them in her workshop and packs them in airtight metal tins.

She keeps green coconuts in the refrigerator in her office and a machete nearby, ready to whack off their tops, insert a straw and offer a visitor a refreshing thirst quencher. "I used to use this machete to kill chickens," she said.

She has traveled to Asia, South America, Africa and the Middle East to find new spices and the sources for them. In the fall she plans to add new seasonings like sumac, Aleppo pepper and Oman black limes. She is devoted to indigenous cuisines in countries like Peru, Australia and Tanzania.

In addition to more than three dozen spices and blends, she imports seasoned rice, including a highly aromatic red rice from Kerala in southern India and spiced North African couscous. The grains, in clear plastic jars with bamboo paper tops, come preseasoned and ready to cook with the addition of water and olive oil to make four to six servings. She has some unusual salts, like a Japanese sea salt seasoned with matcha green tea powder.

Most of the spices and grains are $6.95 to $13.95. They are sold at Dean & DeLuca, among other stores, and at nirmalaskitchen.com.

Some of Ms. Narine's products are also sold in the gift shop at the American Museum of Natural History in New York and the Smithsonian Institution in Washington. "As well as my company is doing, I think I'm proudest of the recognition this gives me," she said.


For the Spice Rack That Has Everything

NIRMALA NARINE has her eye on your spice rack. "Spices are the soul of every cuisine," said Ms. Narine, 35, an entrepreneur in Long Island City, Queens. "And as sophisticated as we may have become, there is still plenty to learn."

Nirmala Narine grinds spices for the blends she sells through her Long Island City company.

Broadening the Palate Is Their Specialty (July 13, 2005)

What she would like home cooks to learn is that ground bush tomato, an Australian seasoning, adds richness to fish. That South African peri-peri, a chili blend, does wonders for scrambled eggs. And that ground lemon myrtle might send your herbes de Provence into early retirement.

Ms. Narine, who immigrated from Guyana with her family when she was 11, went to school in Queens, and graduated from John Jay College. "I was always involved in food," she said. Her instinct for business flowered early. "I remember growing habanero peppers when I was a kid, maybe I was 6, and selling them to buy shoes."

Her determination to bring unusual spices to the American market began a few years ago when she visited a spice plantation on Zanzibar, off the coast of Tanzania. Having worked in real estate, run a limousine company and owned a gift basket company, she was interested in a new challenge. She started Nirmala's Kitchen three years ago, importing unusual spices, blending them, and selling them to specialty stores and online.

Ms. Narine has a particular sensibility to the blending of spices. "You can't generalize about curries," she said, because the ones available in the Caribbean "are vastly different from the ones you find in various parts of India."

Her line includes six masala and curry blends from India, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Thailand and the West Indies, among others, each with a different keynote (cumin, chili or ginger). She has the spices roasted and ground, then blends them in her workshop and packs them in airtight metal tins.

She keeps green coconuts in the refrigerator in her office and a machete nearby, ready to whack off their tops, insert a straw and offer a visitor a refreshing thirst quencher. "I used to use this machete to kill chickens," she said.

She has traveled to Asia, South America, Africa and the Middle East to find new spices and the sources for them. In the fall she plans to add new seasonings like sumac, Aleppo pepper and Oman black limes. She is devoted to indigenous cuisines in countries like Peru, Australia and Tanzania.

In addition to more than three dozen spices and blends, she imports seasoned rice, including a highly aromatic red rice from Kerala in southern India and spiced North African couscous. The grains, in clear plastic jars with bamboo paper tops, come preseasoned and ready to cook with the addition of water and olive oil to make four to six servings. She has some unusual salts, like a Japanese sea salt seasoned with matcha green tea powder.

Most of the spices and grains are $6.95 to $13.95. They are sold at Dean & DeLuca, among other stores, and at nirmalaskitchen.com.

Some of Ms. Narine's products are also sold in the gift shop at the American Museum of Natural History in New York and the Smithsonian Institution in Washington. "As well as my company is doing, I think I'm proudest of the recognition this gives me," she said.


For the Spice Rack That Has Everything

NIRMALA NARINE has her eye on your spice rack. "Spices are the soul of every cuisine," said Ms. Narine, 35, an entrepreneur in Long Island City, Queens. "And as sophisticated as we may have become, there is still plenty to learn."

Nirmala Narine grinds spices for the blends she sells through her Long Island City company.

Broadening the Palate Is Their Specialty (July 13, 2005)

What she would like home cooks to learn is that ground bush tomato, an Australian seasoning, adds richness to fish. That South African peri-peri, a chili blend, does wonders for scrambled eggs. And that ground lemon myrtle might send your herbes de Provence into early retirement.

Ms. Narine, who immigrated from Guyana with her family when she was 11, went to school in Queens, and graduated from John Jay College. "I was always involved in food," she said. Her instinct for business flowered early. "I remember growing habanero peppers when I was a kid, maybe I was 6, and selling them to buy shoes."

Her determination to bring unusual spices to the American market began a few years ago when she visited a spice plantation on Zanzibar, off the coast of Tanzania. Having worked in real estate, run a limousine company and owned a gift basket company, she was interested in a new challenge. She started Nirmala's Kitchen three years ago, importing unusual spices, blending them, and selling them to specialty stores and online.

Ms. Narine has a particular sensibility to the blending of spices. "You can't generalize about curries," she said, because the ones available in the Caribbean "are vastly different from the ones you find in various parts of India."

Her line includes six masala and curry blends from India, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Thailand and the West Indies, among others, each with a different keynote (cumin, chili or ginger). She has the spices roasted and ground, then blends them in her workshop and packs them in airtight metal tins.

She keeps green coconuts in the refrigerator in her office and a machete nearby, ready to whack off their tops, insert a straw and offer a visitor a refreshing thirst quencher. "I used to use this machete to kill chickens," she said.

She has traveled to Asia, South America, Africa and the Middle East to find new spices and the sources for them. In the fall she plans to add new seasonings like sumac, Aleppo pepper and Oman black limes. She is devoted to indigenous cuisines in countries like Peru, Australia and Tanzania.

In addition to more than three dozen spices and blends, she imports seasoned rice, including a highly aromatic red rice from Kerala in southern India and spiced North African couscous. The grains, in clear plastic jars with bamboo paper tops, come preseasoned and ready to cook with the addition of water and olive oil to make four to six servings. She has some unusual salts, like a Japanese sea salt seasoned with matcha green tea powder.

Most of the spices and grains are $6.95 to $13.95. They are sold at Dean & DeLuca, among other stores, and at nirmalaskitchen.com.

Some of Ms. Narine's products are also sold in the gift shop at the American Museum of Natural History in New York and the Smithsonian Institution in Washington. "As well as my company is doing, I think I'm proudest of the recognition this gives me," she said.


For the Spice Rack That Has Everything

NIRMALA NARINE has her eye on your spice rack. "Spices are the soul of every cuisine," said Ms. Narine, 35, an entrepreneur in Long Island City, Queens. "And as sophisticated as we may have become, there is still plenty to learn."

Nirmala Narine grinds spices for the blends she sells through her Long Island City company.

Broadening the Palate Is Their Specialty (July 13, 2005)

What she would like home cooks to learn is that ground bush tomato, an Australian seasoning, adds richness to fish. That South African peri-peri, a chili blend, does wonders for scrambled eggs. And that ground lemon myrtle might send your herbes de Provence into early retirement.

Ms. Narine, who immigrated from Guyana with her family when she was 11, went to school in Queens, and graduated from John Jay College. "I was always involved in food," she said. Her instinct for business flowered early. "I remember growing habanero peppers when I was a kid, maybe I was 6, and selling them to buy shoes."

Her determination to bring unusual spices to the American market began a few years ago when she visited a spice plantation on Zanzibar, off the coast of Tanzania. Having worked in real estate, run a limousine company and owned a gift basket company, she was interested in a new challenge. She started Nirmala's Kitchen three years ago, importing unusual spices, blending them, and selling them to specialty stores and online.

Ms. Narine has a particular sensibility to the blending of spices. "You can't generalize about curries," she said, because the ones available in the Caribbean "are vastly different from the ones you find in various parts of India."

Her line includes six masala and curry blends from India, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Thailand and the West Indies, among others, each with a different keynote (cumin, chili or ginger). She has the spices roasted and ground, then blends them in her workshop and packs them in airtight metal tins.

She keeps green coconuts in the refrigerator in her office and a machete nearby, ready to whack off their tops, insert a straw and offer a visitor a refreshing thirst quencher. "I used to use this machete to kill chickens," she said.

She has traveled to Asia, South America, Africa and the Middle East to find new spices and the sources for them. In the fall she plans to add new seasonings like sumac, Aleppo pepper and Oman black limes. She is devoted to indigenous cuisines in countries like Peru, Australia and Tanzania.

In addition to more than three dozen spices and blends, she imports seasoned rice, including a highly aromatic red rice from Kerala in southern India and spiced North African couscous. The grains, in clear plastic jars with bamboo paper tops, come preseasoned and ready to cook with the addition of water and olive oil to make four to six servings. She has some unusual salts, like a Japanese sea salt seasoned with matcha green tea powder.

Most of the spices and grains are $6.95 to $13.95. They are sold at Dean & DeLuca, among other stores, and at nirmalaskitchen.com.

Some of Ms. Narine's products are also sold in the gift shop at the American Museum of Natural History in New York and the Smithsonian Institution in Washington. "As well as my company is doing, I think I'm proudest of the recognition this gives me," she said.