This is our last foray into spices for a while. Next time you sprinkle some into your food, consider the lengths that explorers, traders and military commanders went to in order to get them into our kitchen cupboards.
And whatever it is you’re cooking, sweet or savoury, chances are it can be easily and significantly enhanced by adding one or two of these herbs or spices and letting them work their magic.
Complements: Seafood, coconut based curries, chicken, beef, pork
Combines with: cloves, coriander, fennel seeds, ginger, galangal, tamarind, turmeric, chilli, cinnamon
To serve: We are serving this in the form of a savoury panna cotta and prawns. The creamy pannacotta base is beautiful refreshed by the zinginess of the lemon grass, which also beautifully completes the prawn. Just make a Panna Cotta and infuse the milk with lemongrass and perhaps other spices (feel free to experiment) without any sugar, but seasoned with salt instead.
Complements: chutneys, pickles, curries and curry pastes
Combines well with: cinnamon, turmeric, paprika, coriander, cloves, cardamom, mustard
To serve: Simply remove the outer layer and pull out the strings and soak in boiling water for an hour. Push through a sieve to remove the seeds and pour the pulp into a sauce pan and cook for a few minutes. Add vinegar, salt and maple syrup to taste.
Complements: chocolate, meat, seafood, sweet citrus, such as orange and tangerine
Combines well with: it is an amalgamating spice, so it brings other flavours together. This means that it combines with almost anything.
To serve: We are using coriander in sweet cooking by adding it to an apple and blackcurrant financiers. This can also be made into a cake – just add grated apple, coriander and fresh or frozen blackcurrants. We then poured lemon icing over the top: just mix icing sugar with lemon juice until you reach the desired consistency.
Complements: breads, meats, fish, vegetables, starchy foods, curries
Combines well with: ginger, paprika, mustard, coriander, cumin, chilli, cardamom, tamarind, turmeric
To serve: We added these seeds to potato bondas.
Complements: curries, cooking oil, chutneys, vinegars and other condiments
Combines well with: cinnamon, nigella, chilli, cumin, coriander, allspice, cinnamon, cardamom
To serve: We made mustard. Just combine 1 part yellow mustard seeds, 1 part black mustard seeds, 1 part white wine vinegar and 3 parts beer, 1/2 part runny honey, large pinch of salt (you can also add other spices). Leave to infuse overnight. The mustard is then ready! We like to blend half of the mixture for a more interesting texture.
Fennel seeds and pollen
Complements: pickling spice, Italian sausages, curries, breads, biscuits
Combines well with: ginger, galangal, cumin, chilli, ginger, mustard, tamarind, allspice, coriander
To serve: We added fennel seeds to pork and beef meatballs and served them with a tomato salsa. The fennel pollen was sprinkled over panfried scallops served with capers and finely chopped fennel and cucumber, lightly pickled in vinegar, pinch of salt and sugar. This makes for a light, yet delicious starter.
Complements: Duck, beef, pork, soups and stews
Combines well with: chilli, cinnamon, coriander seeds, pepper, ginger, nutmeg, cloves,
To serve: Works beautifully in baking and so we added this spice to almond biscotti. It brings a wonderful warmth to this classic tea time treat.
Complements: seafood and shellfish, light stocks – fish and vegetable, complements veal also
Combines: paprika, pepper, cloves, cinnamon, parsley
To serve: Infuse your milk for a white sauce with mace and pour over cooked prawns and grill until golden brown.
Complements: Pretty everything
Combines: With almost everything
To serve: We served strawberry ice-cream with crushed pink and green peppercorns and dried rose petals. We also like to combine goat cheese, strawberries and black pepper. Another delicious idea is a warming carrot and coriander soup topped with creme fraiche combined with crushed black and green peppercorns topped with crispy ginger. The last dish we served was a tart. Just make a basic sweet tart custard with ricotta, milk, yolks and honey. We topped the tart with caramel to which we added sichuan pepper.