Here at Piglet we are definitely a bunch of foodies. Our team spend their weekends attending local supper clubs, rummaging round farmers markets and baking astoundingly moreish gluten free cakes (here’s looking at you Jane!).
Some of these activities have gone by the wayside in recent times and as some find themselves inspired, I’ve definitely found myself stuck in a food rut. That’s where spices come in! Updating your spice selection can bring a whole host of delicious new flavours and smells to your home and get those culinary juices flowing again. So whether you own a rack, a drawer or an entire cupboard of the tasty blighters, here our favourites for you to try.
Sumac is actually a berry which is dried and blitzed into a coarse, deep red powder. It is found throughout middle eastern and North African cooking traditions and was often used as an alternative to lemons due to tangy flavour. As such it is great for adding that sour component to dishes such as north African style stews, marinades. I love making a feta and sumac yoghurt dressing that can be consumed in dangerous quantities when slathered onto chargrilled lettuce wedges.
These gorgeous jewels are mostly found in Persian cooking where they are referred to as zereshk. They have a slightly tart yet sweet flavour and are mouth puckering in the best possible way. We love using them in combination with saffron in Iranian rice dishes for a beautiful bright and bold side.
This toasty herb and spice mix of Levantine origin is typically a mix of dried thyme, oregano, marjoram, sumac and toasted sesame seeds. We love mixing za’atar with olive oil to create a tasty paste which makes a simple yet delicious dip served with warm pitta. It also lends itself amazingly well to a whole host of recipes such as roast chicken (use it as a dry rub for this), whole grilled aubergines and manakish (a horrendously addictive Lebanese flat bread ‘pizza’) as well as in a punchy dressing for a Greek salad. Definitely a great all-rounder.
The beautifully named nigella is also referred to as onion seeds and is super popular in Indian cooking. It adds a lovely toasted onion flavour to curries and is a revelation speckled on bread dough just before baking adding a subtle savouriness.
My dad swears by teaming it with white cheese and sprinkles it on top off an open fresh white cheese sandwich with sliced radishes and cucumbers for a Polish inspired savoury breakfast.
A beautiful mellow pepper of Turkish/Syrian origin, the Aleppo has a slightly oily texture and an earthy complexity that gets you hooked from the first bite.
Not going to lie, it tastes great on everything. Try it sprinkled on eggs or avocado toast, use it to season dips and any time you need to add a subtle kick to your dishes. It can even be used in baking, adding a delicious warmth to a gooey chocolate cake or pepping up a cinnamon banana loaf.
A staple of Asian cooking, this golden wonder has an earthy pungent aroma and should definitely be a part of every chef’s pantry. It hosts a whole heap of health benefits due to its high concentration of curcumin which is a potent anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant. Definitely a plus right? It plays an integral part of many Asian staples such as comforting daal or Pakistani grilled chicken and is amazing in rice dishes. It can also be added to warm frothed oat milk to make a wonderfully restoring turmeric latte.