Spices can make your eyes water, like a depressed onion or the tearjerker finale of It's a Wonderful Leek. Start crying in the kitchen with today's Groupon: for $15, you get $30 worth of organic, fair-trade spices, plus a four-spice sampler pack, from The Spicy Gourmet (a $40 value).
Recently interviewed in Cool Hunting, The Spicy Gourmet founder Dinesh Perera packs Western pantries with flavorful spices remembered from his grandmother's Sri Lankan kitchen. Dry-roast the sampler pack's selection of four whole spices—including 15 grams of lemongrass, 25 grams of black mustard seed, 15 grams of fennel seed, and 25 grams of fenugreek seed (a $10 value)—before grinding them up to release fresh aromas, copious oils, and ghosts of ancient spice traders trapped inside. Then fill out your spice rack with a selection of nine whole spices ($7.99–$12.99), or adopt three powdered spices—earthy tumeric ($7.99–8.99), colorful paprika ($9.99–10.99), and spicy cayenne ($9.99–10.99)—whose whole forms are too difficult to ship. Foil bags and sturdy tin jars keep spices fresh during their long journey from Sri Lankan and Indian community farms, despite coriander seeds' singing "99 Bottles of Beer" the whole ride.
Recipes on the website clue cooks in to correct spice doses, yielding succulent tandoori chicken, shrimp in red curry sauce, and other classic South Asian dishes. Alternatively, adopt a Complete Spice Blending Collection to equip your kitchen with 16 spices, a customized electric grinder, and a 24-page color recipe book featuring tips for sorting, milling, and de-clawing ($124.99).
Santa Barbara Organic Spice Company Inc.
Some of Dinesh Perera's earliest memories were not of sights, but of smells. Specifically, the smells that wafted from his kitchen in Sri Lanka, where his grandmother and grandaunt would dry roast and hand grind pungent spices to create the large, laughter-filled feasts his family shared nightly. When he and his brothers moved to London and away from these fragrant repasts, Perera watched as his father, a man who had hardly set foot in a kitchen, slowly learned to blend spices and prepare satisfying meals for the family. With an upbringing so full of tastes and aromas, it's no wonder that Perera established Santa Barbara Organic Spice Company Inc., an online shop bursting with spices fetched from Sri Lankan and Indian community farms.
Each of the company's herbs and spices are USDA certified organic and purchased following fair-trade guidelines. Home cooks can find nearly everything they need to create authentic South Asian cuisine from scratch, including cumin, fenugreek, coriander, and cardamom. Many of these spices come in their whole-seed form, which is perfect for dry roasting in a skillet or planting a whole garden of Indian restaurants. Of course, the company doesn't only traffic in the exotic—black peppercorns, cinnamon sticks, and whole cloves ensure home pantries are ready for whatever recipe comes their way. Though they come from faraway lands, the company makes sure that spices stay fresh by packing them in airtight foil bags and sturdy tin jars.