Anyone who’s cooked from Yotam Ottolenghi’s cookbooks knows that the London-based Israeli chef is a master at employing spices. So when he spoke to us on Milk Street Radio about his new cookbook, “Simple,” we couldn’t help but ask: What are the five spices every household should have on hand?

He categorizes spices as either sweet or savory and says every kitchen needs some from both groups. Besides the five versatile spices he uses all the time, he expounded on his love of Urfa pepper, a kind of chili from Turkey that when dried and crushed into flakes has a dark, smoky, but not overly spicy quality that we love here at Milk Street. “From the Mexican side, you find ancho or cascabel chilies. It's kind of the Middle East equivalent to those Mexican flavors,” Ottolenghi says. “It’s got a really nice sweetness and depth, like a chocolate flavor or a licorice flavor.”

Listen here for the full show, and read on for five spices Ottolenghi calls essential:

Star Anise:“On the sweet side, you'd find things like cinnamon, and allspice and nutmeg. So from that department, I really, really love star anise. Star anise is used a lot in Asian cooking and southeast Asian cooking and they look like beautiful stars, but you can also grind it into a powder or buy it as powder. That's a really great, great spice to have.”

Anise Seeds:“Another one from the anise department is either fennel seeds or anise seeds. They're quite similar in flavor. We're all familiar with acidic flavors from tarragon and basil to chervil. So if you take those herbs and mix them together with fennel seeds or with anise seeds, you get another layer. It’s really great with vegetables and meat and fish.”

Cardamom:“Ground cardamoms are the most wonderful things. I've got a recipe in this book for a soba noodle salad with avocado and lots of cilantro, lots of onion, and I add some ground cardamom to it, and with the addition of a squeeze of lime, it's like heaven.”

Cumin:“I think cumin is probably one of the best spices and the most used spices in the world, and that would definitely be on my list.”

Coriander Seeds:“I could add coriander seeds—also great. That with cumin is the base for so many Indian spice mixes, which are the starting points for many curries.”

Pick up a copy of “Simple” for a longer list of spices and pantry staples from Ottolenghi, and read more about the book here.