“For a long time, spices have been treated in quite a utilitarian way in British kitchens, but there is enormous variation”, so says Rachel Walker of pioneering spice company, Rooted Spices. We talk to the women behind the incredible single origin spices, revolutionising our cooking one pinch at a time.
Stay Rooted. Photography: Natalé Towell
Take a look through your spice rack. How many of your spices come from countries of ‘multiple origin’? You might find that quite a lot of them do. But did you know that where a spice grows is an important factor in how it tastes, with nuances in flavour and quality that you just can’t get in the mega blends we commonly use in our cooking.
“For a long time, spices have been treated in quite a utilitarian way in British kitchens, but there is enormous variation. Just like coffee and chocolate, terroir, climate and even the way it’s harvested will really impact how a spice tastes”, says Rachel Walker of spice company, Rooted Spices.
On a mission to shake up our lacklustre spice cupboards, co-founders Rachel Walker and Clara Glass started sourcing spices, not based on where the harvest was cheapest, but on which tasted best. “We spent months calling in samples from around the world, tasting spices side-by-side. Poor quality allspice, for example, has a soapy note and some cinnamon is very artificial, while the true cinnamon we stock from Sri Lanka has a natural sweetness and woody-warm aroma”.
How to use spice to spruce up your cooking
Using the freshest possible spices from ‘single origin’ is an easy way to inject some serious flavour into your cooking. We tried adding Rooted Spices’ Kashmiri chilli into curries and found it added vibrant depth of flavour. A sprinkling of aromatic, raisiny-flavoured Urfa Pul Biber on eggs or on fresh cheese is transformative (Nigella is a fan) while a Golden Blend of turmeric, cinnamon and black pepper makes for a kicking addition to porridge. Here are four more unusual ways to use spice in your kitchen.
1. Spice up your roast
A simple traybake, this allspice-roasted chicken with garlicky za’atar yoghurt is a true celebration of spice. Ground allspice gives a heady, complex flavour to your chicken, while za’atar adds delicious freshness to yoghurt. Za’atar is a wonderfully versatile spice and Ottolenghi’s storecupboard staple. Use it to marinate fish, to top baked sweet potato and sour cream or sprinkled into chicken and mayo sandwiches.
2. Give rice pudding a kick
This creamy vegan rice pudding uses Rooted Spices’ Golden Blend of turmeric, cinnamon and black pepper for deep, earthy, kicking flavour.
Urfa Pepper Pul Biber are dark, smoky chilli flakes that are used as a table seasoning throughout Turkey, adding a hint of raisin sweetness and coffee-like complexity to your food. Make your own homemade flatbreads, then pile them up with fresh herbs, soft Graceburn cheese and a sprinkling of Pul Biber. Alternatively, try using a dash to season barbecued steaks, grilled halloumi and even add a pinch to your chocolate brownie mix.
4. Biscuits and bakes
Though Nigella seeds don’t have a heady scent, they pack a real punch, making them a quick way to add a whack of flavour to salads or roasted vegetables. They have a flavour similar to onion and so work really well sprinkled onto these Cheddar biscuits or in all sorts of breads and pastries. Whole toasted mustard seeds, cumin and coriander add great flavour to homemade chapatis, flatbreads and crackers, too.
Shake up your spice rack and get 20% off the entire Rooted Spices range. Limited time only.
There’s no need to feel guilty about binning your stale spices either. Marie Kondo your kitchen the zero-waste way with these simple tips.