Forget paint and new dishes: every good cook knows that spices and seasonings are the greatest way to change up your kitchen. From fennel seeds to dill pollen, there are a thousand different ingredients that can add zest and flavor to even the plainest recipes. Unfortunately, the quest to find these herbs is often plagued by one question: where can I buy spices? Most people will turn to the internet or a local store, but if you’re lucky, you’ll be able to make it to one of these famous spice markets! Read on to learn about some of the best places in the world to find exotic spices for sale.
Where Can I Buy Spices: A List of the World’s Best Spice Markets
Mercado De La Merced, Mexico City
This colorful market takes up four entire blocks in the Mexican capital and offers food products from around the country. When it comes to herbs and spices, look for chiles and Mexican vanilla, which many people say is the best in the world.
Castries Market, St. Lucia
The Caribbean island of St. Lucia is known for its spices, and this century-old market doesn’t disappoint: keep an eye out for star anise, nutmeg and vanilla. You’ll likely also find yourself tempted by the market’s breadfruit, avocados, and banana chutneys, and perhaps even its bois bande, a bark used to make a tea which West Indian cultures believe can act as an aphrodisiac.
Chandni Chowk in Old Delhi
India’s largest and busiest outdoor bazaar offers countless varieties of spices, as well as fruits, legumes and more. But in your search for seasonings, you’ll likely notice the market’s oval mortars, used for grinding spices. This place is an experience, but keep an eye out for rickshaws and oxcarts.
Khan El-Khalili, Cairo
This souk in the city’s Islamic center has been selling spices and more since the 14th century, making it one of the most famous spice markets in the world. Look for saffron and dried mint. Try not to be distracted by the bootleg electronics and precious metals before making a stop for mint tea.
Kashgar Sunday Market in Kashgar, China
While this city in Western China, near the borders of Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, may seem out of the way to tourists, it didn’t use to be: Kashgar is a 2,000 year old trading center, formerly connected to the Silk Road. Accordingly, it has held a giant weekly market for centuries. You’ll see plenty of silk, grapes, figs, and almonds, but the market has always been well-known for its spices, a reputation that extends into the present.
Balik Pazari, Istanbul
No list of great spice markets would be complete without this famous city, known for its bazaars. Get ready for open sacks of various spices, as well as henna, mackerel and more.
If you’re wondering “where can I buy spices”, but don’t have the time or resources to travel to Istanbul or Delhi to pick up a few ingredients, rest assured: there are a number of online merchants and shops that will have exactly what you’re looking for. But if you ever find yourself in China or St. Lucia, don’t forget to check out these fantastic markets to see what they have to offer. Just don’t forget to check your country’s customs regulations before you try to bring certain items home.