The first step to better tasting food is a well-stocked spice cabinet. You can incorporate spices in your cooking to enhance the flavour and aroma of a dish, from giving it a sweet undercurrent to adding a smoky or more intense heat kick.
Discover the 13 essential spices you need in your kitchen and some amazing recipes that you can try out too:
Made from berries from an evergreen tree, allspice has a unique flavour which resembles a mixture of other spices (hence its name). It’s used in fruitcake, puddings and savoury dishes of the Middle East which have rice, game and minced meat.
See recipe for: Dutch Apple Tart
Also called the “queen of spices”, these have an aroma that some people say is a cross between camphor and eucalyptus. It’s offered as breath-fresheners in some Indian restaurants. Bite into it and you get a warm bittersweet aftertaste which is quite pleasant. Cardamom is used for curries, cakes and bread and is the classic spice used in masala tea.
Hot red chilli, usually sold dried and ground. Used sprinkled over pasta and stews to give them a kick.
These are deep-red dehydrated chilli slices and seeds. They can be very hot and are sold in bottles on the spice rack of supermarkets. Chilli powder is the finer ground version and is one of the key ingredients in a curry powder or paste.
Related: 5 Chillies Hotter Than Chilli Padi
Pronounced che-pote-lay, these are dried and smoked jalapeno chillies. They have a deep, intensely smokey flavour and are not searing hot at all.
This spice is sold in sticks or quills, or ground into powder. It is one of the most commonly used spices in the world, for both sweet and savoury foods. In Korea, it is popularly made into a hot or cold tea.
The dried bud of the clove tree is used for its warm pungent flavour to spice meat dishes, fruit compotes and Indian sweets. It is also one of the essential ingredients in garam masala, a spice mix.
The aromatic seed of a plant that belongs to the parsley family. Ground cumin is used as one of the spices in curry powder. The other spices are chilli powder, coriander, turmeric and fenugreek.
A blend of five dried spices namely star anise, cassia, cloves, Szechuan peppercorns and fennel seeds, this pungent spice is often used in Chinese cooking.
This red-orange root, related to the ginger, is pungent and is one of the spices used in curry powder. It can be used fresh or in its powder form. Also known as the poor man’s saffron, the powder is used to get a rich orange colouring.
This is ground dried red capsicum or bell pepper. Best used sprinkled over food to add a sweet spiciness. They are available in different intensities from sweet, mild, smoked and hot.
An important spice in Chinese cooking, this is actually the dried fruit of a tree native to South West China. The whole spice is a dried eight-pointed star that contains tiny amber-coloured seeds. It has a licorice aroma and flavour.
A purple-red spice made from ground berries. It has a tart lemon-y flavour and is usually sprinkled over barbecued meat in Middle Eastern cuisine.
See recipe for: Roast Pumpkin Salad with Black Quinoa