The mystery of spices is that they have travelled really far to reach South African shores... "The word spice comes from Latin species, meaning a commodity of value and distinction."
Originally esteemed as rare and precious, used for barter and trade equal or more valuable to livestock, gold and silks; times have changed and spices are now less valuable in the sense of their Rand value but still just as vital in the cooking and flavour profile of foods and dishes as well as highlighting their health properties.
Spices are simply dried bark, seeds, roots and flowers of plants believe it or not. Super tasty and so nutritious! There is a lot of research on why we enjoy them so much and why we have found such pleasure in the taste. The findings show that at the tip of the tongue we have nerve endings that are sensitive to the burning sensation we often get from eating spices, this releases endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers, giving rise to pleasurable and even euphoric sensations. Incredible!
Flavour combinations are endless once you get to know the different types.
It is best to by the seeds and grind or crush them fresh as you need them to really bring out the profiles of sweet, sharp, hot, sour, spicy, aromatic, tart, mild, fragrant or pungent. Exciting to the taste buds! There are of course the standard blends of spices that are so familiar to us these days such as a Curry Spice which is usually a blend of turmeric, chilli powder and sometimes garam masala; usually ready ground and packed. Bottles of spices and dried herbs line the grocery stores, varieties we are so lucky to have access to and should never be afraid to try...
Spices like Pepper, Cardamom, Turmeric, Ginger and Chilli are known as major spices and others such as Aniseed, Coriander, Dill, Cumin, Fenugreek and Celery are know as minor spices.
Spices have significant health benefits and contribute towards a healthy lifestyle if you include them in your daily diet. They add flavor and nutrients to dishes without fat or calories!
Explore a Spice Route of your own and try something different in your cooking!
You may be pleasantly surprised...