What Is A Spice Kitchen? Level Up Thyme For Kitchens

The Spice Route to Modern Kitchens

In ancient times, spices were the coveted treasures that voyagers sailed the high seas for, weaving tales of mystery and allure. These vibrant flavors not only transformed the culinary landscapes of entire nations but also gave birth to the modern-day spice kitchens. Today, the term “spice kitchen” stirs up imaginations of a separate space filled with a vast array of spices, where the smell of spices dances in the air, detached from the rest of the house, ensuring those strong odors don’t permeate the whole house.

But what exactly is a spice kitchen? Often referred to as a wok kitchen, secondary kitchen, or prep kitchen, it’s a space designed specifically for food preparation that involves robust aromas, keeping the main kitchen and the rest of the home free from the overpowering smell of spices. This concept, though ancient, has found its way into modern homes, especially with the rise of open concept kitchens where odors can easily drift into living spaces.

The relevance of spice kitchens is undeniable in today’s culinary world. With a surge in home buyers seeking homes with this unique feature, it’s clear that the benefits of a spice kitchen go beyond just cooking. From a design perspective, it ensures that the main kitchen remains in a better condition, free from oily air and dirty dishes that can arise from intense cooking sessions. If this intrigues you, read on! Plus, we’ll share a delicious chicken curry recipe that you can christen your spice kitchen with!

Not Just a Pinch: The Basics of a Spice Kitchen

Imagine a kitchen space that’s about the size of a pantry, optimized for the cooking process of cultural cooking, with easy access to a double sink, gas stove, and additional counter space. That’s your typical spice kitchen! Unlike the primary kitchen which is designed for everyday cooking and socializing, the spice kitchen is more functional, catering specifically to food items that have strong aromas, such as chicken suya or other spice-heavy dishes.

But how does it differ from your regular kitchen? The main difference lies in its design and purpose. A spice kitchen typically has a separate ventilation system, a high-volume exhaust hood, and is in close proximity to the main kitchen for easy access to fresh ingredients. This ensures that the cooking smells, especially from oily dishes and deep fry, are well-contained. The additional storage space provided by lower cabinets and spice tins is a fantastic addition for those who cook a lot of spicy food.

Moreover, the benefits of a spice kitchen extend beyond just keeping strong odors at bay. For those who love hosting special events spice happenings or have program chefs partners, the spice kitchen acts as a prep kitchen, ensuring the primary kitchen remains clean and ready for guests. It’s a great addition that adds to the value of your home, especially in U.S. cities where open kitchen designs are popular.

Kids in the Spice Cabinet: Making It Fun & Safe

Introducing kids to the aromatic world of spices can be both fun and educational! Transform your spice kitchen into a learning hub, where little ones can discover homemade spice blends, understand the difference between a galley style and chef’s kitchen, or even whip up their school meal with easy-to-follow recipes. With spice tins at their disposal and a miniature kitchen layout, it’s a food playground waiting to be explored.

Safety, however, is super important. While the allure of colorful spices can be enticing, it’s essential to ensure that the space is child-friendly. From storing sharp tools out of reach to ensuring the gas stove has safety controls, every detail matters. It’s also a good idea to introduce them to less spicy food items initially and gradually expand their palate. After all, not every kid might be ready for the fiery heat of a chicken suya just yet!

Lastly, for a dose of fun, why not have a “Christmas Day in the Spice Kitchen” event? Let the kids take control of their future dishes, explore new American flavors, and perhaps even embark on a mini food truck farmers markets small business directory adventure right within the confines of the spice kitchen. The joy of watching them create, experiment, and learn is truly unparalleled.

The Aromatic Array: Must-Have Spices in Your Arsenal

Every spice kitchen, be it a summer kitchen or a butler’s pantry design, should be stocked with a collection of spices that cater to various cuisines. From Middle Eastern Za’atar to homemade spice blends, the product range is vast. However, ensuring that these spices remain in optimal condition is crucial. This is where the design of the spice kitchen, with its additional space and easy access, shines.

While the main kitchen might house the regular spices for everyday cooking, the spice kitchen incubator is where the magic truly happens. Here, you can store a vast array of spices, ensuring they’re kept in better condition away from moisture and direct sunlight. Moreover, having a separate kitchen means that spices like turmeric, which can stain surfaces, or pungent ones like asafoetida, are kept at bay, preserving the pristine condition of your primary kitchen.

In addition to the functional benefits, there’s an undeniable joy in having all your spices organized in one place. Imagine whipping up a flavorful dish, with every spice at your fingertips, without having to rummage through the main kitchen cabinets. It’s all about making the cooking process seamless, efficient, and utterly delightful.

Spicing Up Space: Design Tips & Tricks

When envisioning a spice kitchen, think of it as an extension of your primary kitchen, but with its unique flair. The kitchen design should prioritize functionality, but that doesn’t mean aesthetics take a backseat. With open shelving, you can display your spice tins, showcasing the colors and textures of your vast spice collection. Moreover, consider adding a single sink for easy washing of utensils without crowding the main kitchen.

The layout of a spice kitchen should offer enough countertop space for food preparation without feeling cramped. Whether you’re working with less space or have the luxury of additional space, the design should ensure that every square inch is utilized efficiently. For instance, consider pull-out drawers for easy access to pots and pans or a dedicated space for your wok, especially if you frequently indulge in Asian cuisines.

Finally, ventilation is key. Cooking processes that involve strong aromas or deep frying can quickly fill up the space with strong odors. Installing a high-volume exhaust hood is essential to ensure these odors are efficiently expelled. This not only keeps the rest of your home smelling fresh but also ensures that your spice kitchen remains a pleasant space to work in, regardless of the culinary adventure you embark on.

Around the World in 80 Spices: Global Influences

In the world of culinary arts, the concept of a spice kitchen isn’t just a modern-day phenomenon; it has roots steeped in global traditions. From the wok kitchens of Asia, where strong odors of sizzling stir-fries fill the air, to the prep kitchens of the Middle East, laden with a vast array of spices for sumptuous ethnic dishes, the essence of what is a spice kitchen is well-understood. These spaces serve as a separate kitchen, ensuring that the main kitchen remains free from the overpowering smell of spices.

The beauty of these secondary kitchens lies in their ability to accommodate cultural cooking practices without permeating the rest of the house with cooking smells. In many homes, especially those in U.S. cities, having a spice kitchen—or what some might refer to as a “second kitchen”—has become a testament to preserving culinary heritage. These spaces often come equipped with a high-volume exhaust hood and a double sink, essentials for food preparation that involves a lot of spicy food or oily dishes.

However, beyond functionality, there’s a rich tapestry of history intertwined with these kitchens. For instance, in close proximity to the main kitchen, Indian homes often have a separate space, almost the size of a pantry, dedicated to spice tins and homemade spice blends. Meanwhile, in many Asian homes, the wok kitchen is a space where high heat and strong aromas from dishes come to life, without affecting the ambiance of the primary kitchen or the rest of the home.

Flavor Fest: Cooking in a Spice Kitchen

The essence of what is a spice kitchen truly comes alive when one delves into the cooking process. With enough countertop space to spread out, and the added advantage of a separate space away from the main kitchen, these miniature kitchens become a haven for those who love to experiment with a vast array of spices. From the smoky allure of Middle Eastern kebabs to the tantalizing aroma of Indian curries, cooking in a spice kitchen ensures that the rest of the home remains untouched by strong odors.

Additionally, with special features like a high-volume exhaust hood and extra space for additional storage, these kitchens are tailor-made for those who love to deep fry or cook dishes that release strong aromas. The additional space also proves beneficial for storing a wide product range of spices, ensuring they remain in better condition and are easily accessible during the cooking process. Plus, with the main kitchen remaining separate, it’s easier to manage dishes, ensuring that oily dishes or dishes with strong flavors don’t mix with regular meals.

Furthermore, while the concept of what is a spice kitchen might seem niche to some, its benefits are universal. For those who love to cook, it offers an additional kitchen space, allowing for more freedom and creativity. And for those who simply enjoy the smell of spices but don’t want it lingering in the rest of the house, it’s a fantastic addition. Whether you’re whipping up ethnic dishes or trying out new recipes, a spice kitchen ensures that the main kitchen remains clean, and the rest of the home remains free from overpowering aromas.

The Future of Flavor: The Next Chapter in Spice Kitchens

As we look towards the future, the question arises: what is a spice kitchen’s place in modern homes? With a shift towards open concept kitchens and minimalistic designs, the relevance of a dedicated spice kitchen might seem to wane. However, with the increasing popularity of international cuisines and the need for a separate kitchen to handle strong odors and oily dishes, the demand for these kitchens is on the rise. Especially in U.S. cities, where space is often at a premium, the compact design of a spice kitchen offers the perfect solution.

And, with a growing emphasis on cultural cooking and the desire to maintain the pristine condition of the main kitchen, these secondary kitchens offer a perfect blend of functionality and aesthetic appeal. They provide the extra space needed for food preparation without compromising the design or ambiance of the rest of the home. 

The value of a spice kitchen cannot be understated. From offering a separate space for aromatic cooking to ensuring the main kitchen remains in top-notch condition, these kitchens are more than just a trend—they’re a necessity in our view! Share your experiences cooking in a spice kitchen! And, please share this article with other cooks who love spicy cooking, but hate the after smell in their home. For a flavorful dish to try in your spice kitchen (or, regular kitchen for now!), try our Classic Indian Chicken Curry!

classic Indian Chicken Curry

Course: DinnerCuisine: IndianDifficulty: Medium


Prep time


Cooking time



The warmth of turmeric melds seamlessly with aromatic spices, creating a velvety, rich sauce that envelopes the tender chicken pieces.


  • Chicken: 500 grams (cut into pieces)

  • Onions: 2 large (finely chopped)

  • Tomatoes: 2 large (puréed)

  • Ginger-Garlic Paste: 1 tablespoon

  • Green Chilies: 2 (slit)

  • Yogurt: 1/2 cup (whisked)

  • Oil or Ghee: 3 tablespoons

  • Cilantro (Coriander) Leaves: A handful (chopped for garnish)

  • Whole Spices:

  • Bay leaves: 2

  • Cinnamon stick: 1-inch piece

  • Cloves: 4

  • Green cardamom: 3

  • Black cardamom: 1

  • Ground Spices:

  • Turmeric powder: 1/2 teaspoon

  • Red chili powder: 1 teaspoon (adjust to taste)

  • Coriander powder: 1 teaspoon

  • Garam masala: 1/2 teaspoon

  • Salt: to taste


  • Preparation: Clean the chicken pieces and set them aside. Have the onions finely chopped and the tomatoes pureed.
  • Cooking the Base: In a large pot or pan, heat the oil or ghee. Once hot, add the whole spices (bay leaves, cinnamon, cloves, and cardamoms). Sauté for a minute until aromatic.
  • Adding Onions: Add the finely chopped onions to the pot. Fry the onions until they turn golden brown.
  • Ginger-Garlic and Tomatoes: Stir in the ginger-garlic paste and sauté for another 2 minutes, ensuring it doesn’t burn. Next, add the puréed tomatoes and the slit green chilies. Cook this mixture until the oil starts separating from it.
  • Incorporate the Chicken: To the pot, add the chicken pieces. Fry them until they are browned on all sides.
  • Spices and Yogurt: Add turmeric powder, red chili powder, and coriander powder to the chicken. Mix well, ensuring the chicken is coated with the spices. Now, reduce the heat and add whisked yogurt to the pot. Mix thoroughly.
  • Simmer: Add enough water to cover the chicken (about 1-1.5 cups). Bring the curry to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover, and let it simmer for about 20-25 minutes.
  • Finishing Touches: Once the chicken is cooked through, sprinkle garam masala over the curry. Adjust salt to taste. Let it simmer for another 2-3 minutes.
  • Garnish and Serve: Remove from heat. Garnish with chopped cilantro leaves. Serve hot with basmati rice or Indian bread like naan or roti.

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