Bay leaf | Slightly lemony and bitter, used more for its aroma than taste
Generally sold dried. Indian bay leaves have a more cinnamony flavour than European ones, but the two can be interchanged.
Cayenne pepper | Mild aroma, fiery taste
Lets you add a fairly precise amount of heat to your food, as opposed to chillies, which may vary in strength.
Cinnamon | Woody, aromatic and sweet
Available as sticks (actually curls of papery bark) or ground. Pairs well with dried fruit, making it ideal for dishes such as bobotie.
Cardamom | Green cardamom is light, sweet, and fragrant; black cardamom is intense and smoky
Can be used as whole pods, seeds or powder (made from the green kind). Green pods are popular in desserts; black is much stronger.
Nutmeg & mace |Mace is the outer coating of nutmeg; both are subtly sweet
Nutmeg is usually sold ground, but grating your own will give a much better flavour. Other than curries, it’s great in hot drinks.
Cloves |Strong medicinal flavour, with recognisable notes of anise
An important part of mixes such as garam masala. Use sparingly as it’s very strong.
Turmeric | Pungent and earthy, used mainly for colour
Generally available ground. The fresh root has a stronger taste.
Cumin | Smoky and fragrant
One of the most commonly used Indian spices (with coriander). Toast and grind the tiny seeds for best flavour, but watch out, as they burn easily.
Coriander| Aromatic and citrusy
A totally different flavour to the fresh herb. Dry-roast and grind the small round seeds
Mustard | Smoky, nutty and pungent
Yellow seeds are common in European cooking, black seeds in Indian. Powders and sauces are made from ground seeds.
Curry leaf | Subtle flavour, citrusy scent
Unrelated to curry powder. Small shiny green leaves are best used fresh, but dried will do.
Photography: : HMimages.co.za
Words: Staff Writer
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