Wherever possible, you should buy whole spices which not only saves you money, as pre-ground spices are more expensive than whole spices; but you achieve much better results if you roast and grind it yourself.
You can grind whole spices in a mortar and pestle or an electric coffee grinder. Store whole ground spices for up to 6 months in an airtight container in a cool, dark place.
Soups and stews are great for experimenting with spices such as allspice, cardamom, cayenne, cloves, coriander seeds, cumin, juniper, mace, nutmeg, paprika, rosemary, sage, and turmeric.
You can roast spices before adding them to a dish or sprinkle them on the food at the end of cooking before serving, depending on what you are serving.
Spices transform meals by adding a range of flavours, a touch of sweetness or some warmth. They allow you to cook more creatively and adventurously, and the best spices save you from eating bland meals. Add spices to your cooking oil at the beginning of the recipe so that you can add your flavours as a base for the dish.
Spices say a lot about cultures and cuisines and can be used in a variety of savoury and sweet dishes. With a little spice, even the most basic recipes can taste new and interesting.
You for example mix cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger and a little ground coriander and they make a beautiful classic British spice dessert. Add some ground black pepper and a hint of cardamom to get a decent Indian garam masala. A very versatile and creative process.
These few spices are used in Oriental, Asian and Mediterranean cuisine. They are also used in Indian, Mexican, Asian and Caribbean cuisine. They can be used in curries, soups, pickles, and they are something special in various drinks.
Smoked paprika is a mild spice that gives a smoky touch to seafood, vegetables and egg dishes. A spice mix of chillies, garlic, cumin, coriander, oregano and cloves is very handy to have available when cooking.
Put a thin layer of spice seeds in a pan, shake and stir over low heat. Cooks like to roast spices and seeds because it intensifies the flavours. Spices that are great for toasting are cumin, coriander, fennel seeds, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon sticks and mustard seeds.
If you want a little smokiness and deeper flavour, keep the seeds in the pan a little longer while the heat is on and as they darken in colour and a wonderful aroma fills the air a deeper smoky taste is achieved. Do not burn the spices. The heat emitted by a stove or oven can damage spices and reduce their effectiveness.
For more about spices, watch out for Part 2 In the meantime – Enjoy the Art of creating with spices