9 boutique spice brands to buy souvenirs and gifts
A growing number of independent spice companies specialize in ethically produced seasonings and international flavors straight from the source. We have collected our favorite food memories.
This company, co-founded by Ethan Frisch and Ori Zohar, specializes in single-origin spices sourced from small farms and cooperatives around the world, such as a sweet and sour smoked chilli pimenton. ($ 8) from the Spanish region of Extremadura. In 2021, Burlap & Barrel is releasing a new product about once a week: Look for Timur’s wild peppercorns, harvested with the help of a Nepalese association, and hand-picked dehydrated ramps in the Adirondacks. burlapandbarrel.com.
It all started with turmeric. In 2016, Mumbai-born Sana Javeri Kadri realized that this golden powder was becoming more and more fashionable, but Indian farmers who harvested the plant saw little benefit as muddy supply chains of the country remained anchored in colonial structures. A year later, Diaspora Co. launches its first product: Pragati turmeric ($ 12) cultivated in Andhra Pradesh by organic farmer Prabhu Kasaraneni. The company now offers 21 spice varietals from India and Sri Lanka, all purchased directly from family growers. diasporaco.com.
To create this Mekko dry friction ($ 10), Essie Spice founder Essie Bartels channeled her childhood in Ghana through roasted peanuts and Selim beans – the Xylopia aethiopica the spicy pods of the tree, common in West African soups and stews. But its flavors roam far and wide, with other products of international influence like a tamarind-guava-vanilla marinade and a mango-onion relish topped with Jamaican Scottish caps. essiespice.com.
This company specializes in top quality saffron threads (from $ 22), carefully harvested from a family estate in the Afghan province of Herat. Kabul-born founder Tahmina Ghaffer started Moonflowers in hopes of drawing attention to the country’s ‘red gold’ while supporting women who, until recently, made up 80 percent of female workers. its saffron. The future of work for these women farmers is tragically uncertain today. Visit the site for a list of Afghan nonprofits, refugee organizations and activists to support and follow. moon flowers.co.
Warm and rosÃ© Baharat for a large bowl of couscous. Earthy Hawaii for fresh Yemeni coffee. And, of course, za’atar ($ 10) – the spicy blend of Syrian oregano, sumac and sesame found on tables from Jeddah to Jerusalem. New York Shuk co-founders Leetal and Ron Arazi draw on their family’s roots in Morocco, Lebanon, Israel, and Turkey (and now New York) to introduce the basics of a pantry. from the Middle East to a wider audience. nyshuk.com.
The brainchild of chef Meherwan Irani – founder of Chai Pani and other beloved restaurants in Asheville, NC – Spicewalla ships in bulk to restaurant kitchens across the country. But home cooks, rejoice: the website has pretty much any mix you can think of. (Five spices? Chai masala? Herbes de Provence? They have it.) There’s also an impressive selection of whole spices in user-friendly formats. Try these fruity and fragrant pink peppercorns ($ 8) for a touch of color on your next dessert. spicewallabrand.com.
Founded as an importer of high quality olive oils from the native Morocco of owner Mehdi Boujrada, Villa Jerada has since expanded to seasonings, spreads and rubs throughout North Africa and beyond. After adding harissa and candied lemons to your basket, try their take on the ubiquitous (and rather free-form) Maghrebian spice blend ras el hanout. ($ 10), here based on rose petals, anise, nutmeg and nearly a dozen other herbs. villajerada.com.
A version of this story first appeared in the September 2021 issue of Travel + Leisure under the title The spice of life.