Spice It Right: Floyd Cardoz, Tabla
Credit: Photograph by Christopher Testani

Floyd Cardoz made his name as a master of spices at his Manhattan restaurant, Tabla, the first Indian restaurant to earn three stars from the New York Times. He's just as adept in the backyard. The key, he says, is to grind whole spices yourself. "Your food will be far more vibrant," Cardoz says. Then, deepen the flavor even more by mixing those spices with oil, butter, or yogurt before massaging into the meat. Here are two of Cardoz's favorite rubs for the grill (adapted from his cookbook, One Spice, Two Spice).

Seafood Spice Rub (Makes enough for 2 lbs)

  • 1 tbsp black peppercorns
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tbsp fennel seed
  • Grated zest from 2 lemons
  • Leaves from 1 sprig of tarragon, chopped
  • 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

Grind the spices separately until medium-fine. Combine ground spices, zest, and tarragon with the olive oil in a bowl and brush over the fish.

Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours. Season fish with salt just before cooking on a well-oiled grill.

Peppercorn-Mustard Spice Rub (For beef or other meats; makes enough for 2 lbs)

  • 1½ tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tbsp black peppercorns
  • 1 tbsp brown mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt
  • ¾ cup canola oil

Grind the spices in an electric coffee/spice grinder and pour into a bowl. Stir in salt and oil. Rub over the meat and marinate covered in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours. There is no need to remove the spice mixture before cooking.