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Spice It Up

Prepare yourself for a heady mix of aromas and flavours that will fill your senses and lift your spirits. These recipes use powdered ingredients, but for fresher and more intense blends, select spices in their whole form, and grind with a spice mill or mortar and pestle.

Spice It Up

SPICE cupboard secrets

How should I store them?

Herbs and spices go stale and lose their flavour when exposed to air, light and moisture, so while keeping them on display above your stovetop might look pretty, it’s not a good solution. Small, air-tight glass jars (with screw tops or rubber sealed lids) are ideal. Label jars clearly and always wash and dry them thoroughly before refilling. Keep them in a cool, dark place.

How long can I store them?

Old spice is not good spice. It may be hard to part with it, but the five-year-old cumin lurking at the back of the cupboard won’t add much flavour to your dishes. At worst, it’ll be making the food taste bad or could make you ill. Throw out anything that has formed lumps, gone hard, changed colour or smells unusual. In ideal conditions, ground spices will last one to two years and dried herbs can be stored for about two years. Whole spices and seeds will keep for up to three years. Label your jars with the date you filled them and have an annual clear out of those that are past their best.

Which ones do I need?

That depends entirely on what you like to eat. Make a note of the herbs and spices in recipes you make frequently and ensure you have a supply of them. When buying ground spices, ask yourself whether you’re likely to use the quantity you’re about to purchase before it goes stale – instead of buying ground coriander, does it make more sense to buy whole seeds and grind the amount required when your cooking calls for the powdered form? It may take a few minutes longers, but the flavours will be more intense, you’ll have twice as long to use your supply and you’ll have coriander seed when you need them.

Here are some of our favourite recipes for spices you can make at home.

Adobo Spice

Adobo may be Spanish for “marinade” but this collection of spices is a favourite in many countries, including the Philippines, where it was traditionally used to preserve meat. Filipinos say they used it before the Spanish arrived, and the recipes from each country differ – adobo from Spain is spicier with more chilli, while the sauce from the Philippines is vinegar based, so it tenderises as well as adding flavour. This recipe, derived from the Spanish version, is good as a rub on meat and chicken before grilling or can be added to taco mixtures

Makes 1 cup

2 tbsp sweet paprika
2 tbsp smoked paprika
2 tbsp freshly ground 
black pepper
2 tbsp onion powder
2 tbsp dried oregano
2 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp chilli powder
1 tbsp garlic powder

Combine all ingredients in a screw-top jar, store away from direct sunlight. Can be stored for up to 
2 months.

Try this recipe for Meatballs in Adobo Tomato Sauce here. 

Shichimi Togarashi

A peppery Japanese condiment, Schichimi Togarashi is also called seven spice, as generally only seven ingredients are used: flaked red chilli pepper, black pepper, sesame seeds, dried mandarin orange peel, green nori seaweed flakes, Sichuan peppercorns and poppy seeds. Sprinkle over noodles, shabu shabu hot pots, fish, seafood and both white and red meats before cooking. You can also use it as a seasoning instead of salt and pepper.

Makes 1 cup

2 tbsp finely grated 
orange rind
1 nori sheet, toasted and roughly torn
2 tbsp chilli flakes
2 tbsp ground Sichuan peppercorns
2 tbsp white sesame seeds
2 tbsp black sesame seeds
1 tbsp garlic powder

Preheat oven to 100˚C. Grease and line a baking tray. Spread orange rind in a single layer on a baking tray, bake for 15 minutes. Turn over halfway through. Cook until dried out, then cool completely. In a small food processor, pulse nori and chilli to form fine flakes. Place in a screw-top jar. Mix in Sichuan pepper, sesame seeds, dried orange zest and garlic powder. Store out of direct sunlight and use with 2 months.

If using togarashi as a sprinkling condiment, toast in a small frying pan until fragrant and seeds lightly golden.

Try this delicious spice in our favourite recipe for Crispy Togarashi-Coated Tofu with Mushrooms here. 

Pistachio Dukkah

Makes 3/4 cup

Dukkah is an Egyptian condiment consisting of seeds, spices and nuts such as almonds or hazelnuts. It is traditionally used as an appetiser; dipping bread into olive oil and then into the dukkah. Play around with different nuts to create different flavours. Try it with roasted vegetables, pasta, feta cheese or as a crust for lamb, chicken, tofu and fish. This recipe uses the dukkah untoasted, but if serving as a topping, it will be better to toast in a dry frypan until golden and fragrant.

1/4 cup white sesame seeds
1/4 cup pistachio kernels, finely chopped
1 tbsp ground coriander
1 tbsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp sea salt

In a screw top jar, place the sesame seeds, pistachio, coriander, cumin, black pepper and sea salt. Shake well to combine. To store, place away from direct sunlight. Store for 2 months.

Tip: Toasting dukkah will increase its flavour. Heat in a small frypan, cook for 2 minutes or until fragrant, and nuts slightly golden, being careful not to burn spices.

Try your homemade Dukkah in this recipe for Pistachio Dukkah 
Olive Wafers with 
Baba Ganoush

Five Spice

Makes 1/3 cup

This is a spice mixture of Chinese origin, gives dishes a hit of five flavours: sweet, sour, bitter, salty and pungent. The five spices generally used are star anise, Szechuan peppercorns, fennel, cinnamon and clove. Best served with meats such as pork and duck or as a seasoning for carrots, pumpkin and zucchini. Try roasting it and mixing with sea salt to create a condiment, or a rub for meats.

3 tbsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp ground star anise (approx. 7 whole star anise)
1 tsp ground fennel
2 tsp ground sichuan peppercorns
1/2 tsp ground cloves

Place all the ingredients into a screw top jar, shake to combine. Store out of direct sunlight for 2 months. You can roast the five spice in a dry frypan over low-medium heat, stirring often, roasting until fragrant, but watching so does not burn.

Use your fresh five spice in this flavoursome recipe for Five Spice Crispy 
Duck Pancakes with Pickled Vegetables

Jerk Spice

Makes 3/4 cup

This Jamaican spice, with origins dating back to colonial rule in the 1600s, is a favourite for seasoning pork or chicken. Used as a marinade, the spice is traditionally made from thyme, allspice berries (the fruit from pimento trees), ginger, sugar, soy sauce and scotch bonnet peppers for a hit of heat. It has a sweet, tangy hot flavour.

2 1/2 tbsp dried thyme
1 1/2 tbsp sea salt flakes
3 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp brown sugar
3 tsp ground allspice
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp ground nutmeg

Place ingredients into a screw top jar, shake to combine. Place away from direct sunlight and store for 2 months.

Try this recipe for Slow-Cooked Jerk Pork with Dirty Rice.

Chai Spice

Makes 1/2 cup

This Indian spice has very aromatic flavours which are quite versatile. Usually used in a fragrant, milky tea – thus the name chai which means ‘tea – it can also be used in cakes, biscuits, oatmeal or spread with honey on toast. One of the key flavours used in chai spice is cardamom with green the preferred type as it has a sweet taste that is aromatic whereas black cardamom tends to be more smoky. To make the much-loved drink, just add water, milk, tea (try Assam or Ceylon) and sugar to the spice mix in a saucepan and let it brew.

2 tbsp ground ginger
2 tbsp ground cardamom
1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp ground cinnamon

Combine all ingredients into a screw top jar, store away from direct sunlight. Can be stored for 2 months.

Add chai spice to this devilishly good Chai Spiced Chocolate and Cherry Self-Saucing Pudding.

Curry Powder

Makes 3/4 cup

Although the curry we know today is clearly associated with the Indian food found at your local take-away it seems that the origin of the word is actually British as there is no such word used in India. Some suggest that the origin may be the Tamil word ‘kari’, meaning spiced sauce, but it the consensus is that curry power is an anglicised concoction of may Southeast Asian spices. It was brought from England to Australia by a young carpenter named Joseph Keen back in the 1840s and has become an essential ingredient in the curry recipes we make today. This recipe is quite mild, if you prefer a hotter one, add more chilli powder.

5 tbsp ground coriander seeds
2 tbsp ground cumin seeds
1 tbsp ground turmeric
2 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp dry mustard
2 tsp ground fenugreek seeds
1 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1-2 tsp ground chilli peppers, depending on how hot you want the powder to be

Combine all ingredients into a screw top jar, store away from direct sunlight. Can be stored for 2 months.

Use your homemade curry powder in this quick and easy Cashew Chicken Curry.

Ras El Hanout

Makes 2/3 cup

This North African spice mix can contain 20 or more spices and herbs and is often used in Moroccan cooking. The name is Arabic for “top of the shop” as it usually contains a mixture of the best spices and herbs that a merchant will have. Often the actual ingredients of the strong, aromatic blends were kept secret but often included a mix of black pepper, coriander, ginger, paprika and allspice. Adding rose petals gives a more authentic feel to your homemade mix. Add some olive oil to create a marinade or use it to flavour poultry, meat, game, rice and cous cous.

2 ½ tbsp ground cumin
2 tbsp ground coriander
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp freshly ground black peppercorn
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground cardamom
A good pinch of saffron threads, ground
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp cloves
1 tbsp ground dried rose petals (optional)

Combine all ingredients into a screw top jar, store away from direct sunlight. Can be stored for 2 months. Note: rose petals are available from gourmet shops.

Try it in this recipe for Slow Roasted Lamb 
with Lemon & Olive Cous Cous.

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