Spice of life
Spices offer an incredible way to enhance the flavour of food and can truly transform a dish. Spices bring colour and aroma to a meal, and most of them come with a host of health benefits.
It’s the yellowy orange trademark spice of Indian cuisine, but thanks to its reported anti-inflammatory properties, turmeric is currently experiencing a surge in popularity. Not just limited to food, turmeric is now making an appearance in special lattes at the most fashionable cafes.
Cooking tip: Don’t limit turmeric to curries – it also works well in vegetable and rice dishes, soups and stir fry.
It’s a spice that is considered an essential ingredient in baked dishes around the world – everyone knows its soul mate is the baked apple. But cinnamon is also a key ingredient in many Middle Eastern savoury dishes, including tagine and slow-cooked meats. With a sweet and slightly woody aroma, cinnamon is said to alleviate digestive discomfort.
Cooking tip: Add a dash of cinnamon to your coffee or porridge as a sugar substitute.
An aromatic spice with earthy overtones, cumin is an essential spice in South American home cooking, as well as Indian curries and rice dishes. Cumin has a bitter yet slightly sweet taste and is commonly used in curries, stews and spice blends. It’s also a spice believed to play an important role in gut health.
Cooking tip: Rub cumin into heads of cauliflower before roasting to turn the usually plain vegetable into something magical.
Spicy, fresh, sweet and tangy, ginger is a truly versatile spice. Ground ginger livens up smoothies and cocktails, and is popular in European desserts and Asian cuisines. Ginger is also considered to be a great immune system booster and cold reliever.
Cooking tip: Infuse ginger into milk and cream to create a tangy custard or ice cream.
Created from the dried fruits of bell or chilli peppers, the types of paprika vary in heat and taste, including: smoky, hot and spicy, sweet, and bitter. The flavour varies from mild to quite robust, but it’s not as hot as chilli or cayenne pepper. This rich red powder will add incredible colour to a dish, and it is also packed with Vitamin A.
Cooking tip: Paprika complements most tomato-based casseroles and soups, and pairs well with Mediterranean dishes.
A hot spice originally from Central America, cayenne pepper is made from ground pepper. Not for the faint-hearted, a little cayenne pepper goes a long way, and is a great way to add heat to food without radically changing its flavour. Cayenne pepper claims to have metabolism-boosting properties and may lower blood pressure.
Cooking tip: Cayenne pepper makes a great seasoning for meat rubs.
If Christmas had a scent it would be nutmeg. Most commonly sprinkled on eggnogs, cocktails, pies and desserts, nutmeg has a distinctly nutty and slightly sweet scent. It is believed nutmeg aids digestion and helps to relieve pain.
Cooking tip: Nutmeg pairs well with egg dishes and cheese sauces, so add a sprinkle to baked custard or macaroni and cheese.