How to cook with different spices

Using spice is a great way to add flavour and a touch of warmth to your wintertime food. And, best of all, you don’t need to track them!


Available ground or in pods of about 20 seeds, cardamon a member of the ginger family and has a strong, pungent aroma and warm, spicy-sweet flavour.

Use for: Middle-Eastern and Indian cooking. Often used in chai tea.


Cumin adds an earthy, spicy, smoky kick and comes as either seeds or ground. As a member of the parsley family, it’s best used roasted or gently fried to release its fragrant flavours.

Use for: Curries, Middle-Eastern dishes and Mexican favourites.


Nutmeg comes as a whole seed or ground, and its warm, spicy notes are great for sweet and savoury cooking. Best used freshly grated straight onto hot dishes.

Use for: Mashed potatoes, white sauces and cheesecakes.


Turmeric is a root of a tropical plant related to ginger. Has an intense yellow-orange colour and an earthy yet slightly bitter, pungent flavour, so it's best used in moderation.

Use for: Indian cooking and curries. Colours American-style mustard.

Cayenne pepper

Made from ground dried hot chillies, cayenne pepper has a smoky, fiery flavour and is different from standard chilli powder, which is generally a spice mixture.

Use for: Chilli con carne, Mexican recipes and adding a kick of heat to stews.

Curry powder

A spice mix invented by the British to mimic the flavours of Indian cuisine, curry powder is a mix of turmeric, chilli powder, ground coriander, ground cumin, ground ginger and pepper.

Use for: Curries, sautés, soups, stews, marinades and sauces.


The world’s most expensive spice saffron comes from the yellow-orange stigma of a small purple crocus. Enjoyed for its pleasantly bitter flavour and to tint food.

Use for: Curries, risotto, paella, tagines and stock for bouillabaisse.


Sold whole or ground, clove comes from the dried flower buds of the clove tree. Its flavour is warming and penetrating yet sweet and fruity.

Use for: Pickling spice, baked ham, mulled wine, baked goods and chutneys.

Ground ginger

Ground ginger has an unmistakeable flavour that adds a rich, warm element to dishes and juices. Comes in fresh or ground forms, but best not to substitute one for the other as the flavour will be affected.

Use for: Asian and Moroccan cooking, stir-fries, marinades and desserts.


Used by the Romans as a souring agent, this pretty purple spice sumac has a pleasant tangy taste with a hint of citrus fruitiness and virtually no aroma.

Use for: Rubs, marinades and dressings for chicken, fish and chickpeas.