Herbs & Spices
This week’s special offer is lamb and while the traditional roast lamb on Sunday is a firm favourite, there are so many other lamb recipes we thought it worth taking a moment to consider how important various herbs and spices are to our cooking and the dishes we eat today.
The history of spice is almost as old as human civilisation. It is a history of lands discovered, empires built and fallen, flavours discovered and of economics.
We know that in 3,500 BC the ancient Egyptians were using various spices. Their use spread through the Middle East to Europe. Spices from China, Indonesia, India, and Sri Lanka were originally transported overland by donkey and camel caravans. For centuries Arab traders were the main facilitators of the trade and Arabic cuisine became characterised by a range of wonderful spices. Do have a look at our recipe this week which shows how to make best use of our great special offer this week.
Meanwhile here is a quick guide to some of the best herbs & spices to use in your cooking and what they have to offer:
Aniseed is one of the world's oldest spices. It is popular in sweets and has many medicinal purposes. With its distinct liquorice flavour, aniseed is a popular ingredient in pastries.
Caraway seeds offer a slightly earthy yet sweet flavour with a hint of dill. Caraway is used in spicier dishes found in North African cuisine.
Basil has a sweet and earthy aroma, basil is one of the most commonly used herbs in the kitchen.
Bay Leaf adds a woodsy background note to soups and sauces.
Cardamom is a spice described as strong and pungent, with light notes of lemon and mint. For the freshest flavour, purchase whole cardamom pods and grind them to preserve the natural essential oils.
Cinnamon is often associated with sweet desserts such as apple pie. However, it's a common addition to a shawarma spice blend.
Fenugreek – although this herb smells like maple syrup while cooking, it has a rather bitter, burnt sugar flavour. Found in a lot of Indian and Middle Eastern dishes.
Sage is touted as the sister of rosemary. Sage is a perennial woody herb displaying grey-green leaves. Sage leaves mostly complement fish and poultry dishes, along with various vegetables and sausages.
Tarragon offers a distinctive flavour reminiscent of aniseed or liquorice, the tarragon leaves are an edible herb pairing often with fruit, poultry, seafood, and sauces.
Thyme is used in both its fresh and dried forms. Thyme offers a subtle yet savoury note to soups, stews, and roasted dishes.