Some people may find spices intimidating, especially if they were brought up in a household where spices weren’t really used. If you’d like to add some spices to your cooking, but don’t know where to start, I can recommend starting with any (or all) of my favourite ones — turmeric, coriander (seeds) and cumin. They’re on my favourites list because I can use them in many savoury dishes — not just Indian — to add some pizzazz and yumminess.
Coriander and cumin, perhaps, are more versatile than turmeric — and when lightly toasted and ground, they release their spicy notes and heady aromas (oh, how I love that smell!). Added bonus — these two balance each other flavours, because one is pungent (cumin) and the other is cooling (coriander).
Turmeric, on the other hand, I use for adding colour and medicinal reasons (it has anti-inflammatory properties).
These three don’t generate the same intensity of some other spices, which can overpower or leave your tummy (and mouth) burning. For this reason, turmeric, coriander and cumin are perfect for using in dips, soups, tomato-based pasta sauces, casseroles, vegetable curries and stews. At times, I also use coriander and cumin in salads, raita, dukkah, and for roasting vegetables.
Spices have concentrated flavours, so they’re best used in small amounts. With my favourite 3, you can start with ½ tsp to 1 tsp each, (in ground form). For turmeric, I generally don’t go over 1 tsp. For coriander and cumin, it’s best to lightly dry roast and grind before using. As you get used to these spices, have a play with amounts, and see what your taste buds like.
Here’s to spicing up your life,