People of the world, everyboy and every girl! Spice up Your life!
Well the spice girls had one thing right ( secretly they had everything right, I was a massive fan- yes I even went to see the film).
Variety really is the spice of life. My spice cabinet is always stocked with a range of spices, from hot to mild, from bitter to sweet.
I love to experiment with all of them and play with the sweet and savoury element.
My current top four favourites are: turmeric, cinnamon, saffron and cardamom.
Turmeric – Is a highly colour deep golden- orange plant. You can get this fresh and use in a similar way to ginger- it actually looks very similar too.
However its readily available in power form and is the main ingredient in curries as it adds a mild peppery flavour, but most of all a vibrant yellow hue.
I love to use this in a variety of dishes, but most of all to sprinkle over prawns and to add a touch to fish pie to give it an extra dimension.
Turmeric is also ridiculously good for you. It has anti bacterial and anti inflammatory benefits.
Just watch its staining abilities. It dyes fabric so well it was originally its main use.
Cinnamon – An excellent all rounder. We get through loads in this house.
Whether it be added to porridge, banana and honey in the morning, cinnamon and raison cookies, and in chilli and greek inspired met dishes. Its a fantastic spice I wouldn’t be without.
Cinnamon is the peeled, dried, and rolled bark of a variety of Asian trees. Again it has many health benefits such as being high in anti oxidants and again another anti inflammatory.
I love it!
Saffron – Known as the worlds most expensive spice. Saffron is from the flower of Crocus sativus, commonly known as the “saffron crocus”.
No wonder its expensive, its a very labour intensive process.
Saffron is excellent with eggs, rice dishes in particular paella. It is however equally good to add a fragrant splash of colour to ice-cream and desserts. Another multi use spice. Use sparingly, as a little goes a long way.
Cardamom – These are the seed pods found natively in India. The pods need to be opened and the seeds taken out. Crush these seeds to release their highly aromatic flavour and aroma. They are one of many spices used to fragrance curries and rice, however I love the flavour with chocolate and sweet elements, such as chocolate and cardamon pudding pots. Ive made these a few times and they are always well received.
Cardamom again have a variety of health benefits, but its main use if for the tummy. It helps aid digestion in a similar way to ginger. A beautiful spice.
Just like any other natural product, keep spices fresh. but smaller batches which just what you need for a few dishes. Fresh spices are always better. so if you want the vey best, get the whole spices and crush or powder them yourselves.
I particularly love the spice counter at Wholefoods. You can take exactly how much you need and the variety is excellent. Your local speciality stores are also full of exotic herbs and spices, and are generally very good value. Have a chat with the proprietor if you get stick… or spoilt for choice!
Nice and spicy!