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Kick things up with trending spices and flavors

assorted spices

When it comes to flavoring foods, chefs and home cooks alike rely on a few staples: acids, salts, fats and of course, spices and herbs.

Spices and herbs can bring heat to an otherwise ordinary dish, recreate a dish someone enjoyed while on vacation somewhere exotic or provide the comfort that favorite foods from childhood offer. According to Technomic’s MenuMonitor, the three most popular spices in restaurants are basil, curry, and pepper. Basil provides the unmistakable fresh taste to a caprese salad or Italian pasta dish, while curry offers the warmth and complexity that Indian, Thai and other Asian cuisines call for. As for pepper, it’s one of the most ubiquitous spices around, and you’ll find it on almost everyone’s spice rack, ready to provide that sharp kick it’s known for.

Up-and-coming spices to watch for

For chefs that want to offer diners the latest in trending flavors, they’ll want to keep an eye on two up-and-coming spices: first, blend of chile, lime and salt; and second, turmeric.

According to Technomic’s MenuMonitor, instances of chile-lime-salt blends have increased 75% year-over-year—previously, almost no menus featured this unique combination, and it’s currently experiencing rapid growth.

Here’s how this zesty blend is making its presence known:

  • Restaurante El Mogote, a Mexican casual-dining restaurant in Chicago, features Milanesa Tacos, which include breaded chicken, cucumber and chile-lime-salt blend.
  • In its Tuna and King Crab Naruto roll, Kona Grill, a casual-dining chain with locations across the U.S., combines tuna, king crab and citrus aioli with avocado and green onion in a cucumber wrapper, with a chile-lime-salt blend, red jalapeno relish and spicy yuzu ponzu.

Turmeric has grown 22% over the past year as well. It’s often featured in Middle Eastern and Indian dishes, providing a vibrant golden hue and a warm, delicate flavor, and is also used in juice blends and smoothies.

Check out how some chefs are offering turmeric in their restaurants:

  • Indus Valley, a casual-dining Indian restaurant in New York City, serves Malabar Fish Masala, a dish of fresh seasonal fish fillets cooked in a gravy of fresh coconut, Kashmiri curry, turmeric, coriander, onions, cumin, garlic, tamarind, tomatoes and green chilies, seasoned with curry leaves.
  • Casual-dining restaurant The Publican in Chicago offers its Country Rib dish featuring pickled carrot, turmeric, cilantro and cashew.

This post is sponsored by Mrs. Dash Foodservice

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