Tips For Using Spices
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Introduction

By Dr Adlina Ahmad, M.D.

Food always tastes better when seasoned with herbs and spices. Each spice brings out
a different aroma and taste that excites the taste buds and makes food tastier.
Spices are almost always used in their dried form. They are available whole ( like
dried peppercorns, star anise, barks of cinnamon, roots, seeds). They are varied in
flavour and taste.
Fresh herbs and vegetables like oregano, rosemary, thyme , bell peppers, ginger and
turmeric are also considered spices as they too bring flavour to our dishes.
Not only do they add the zing to flavour, they also have tons of health benefits.
Many of us have a shelf full of spices, but don’t have a clue to how to use them. We
often than not buy spices, and watch them turn brown in our fridges, or mouldy on the
shelves.
Try these tips on how to use the correct spices for any meal .

TIPS ON HOW TO USE SPICES
1. Always plan your week ahead and use the same herbs and spices for a few
dishes to avoid wastage
2. Keep your dried spices in airtight containers away from sunlight, air and
moisture to keep them fresh and last longer
3. Some spices like the peppercorns and paprika are strong and spicy, so always
add in a bit and add on as you go along to suit your taste
4. Make sure to crush your spices or saute them to ‘wake up’ the taste. Dried
herbs are best when used in oil or butter

5. Dried herbs tend to lose their spunk , especially basil, oregano and sage. So it
would be better to use more when using a dried herb
6. Its so important to always keep tasting during cooking to make sure
everything tastes perfect!

Here is a quick, easy guide to use of commonly used spices for easy
cooking reference.

Flavour : Earthy and sweet
Best cooked with
Fruit & Vegetables : Apples, beets, cabbage,
carrots, squash, sweet
potatoes, turnips
Proteins : Beef, lamb
Best dishes : Desserts, breads
Best paired with : Cardamon,
nutmeg, cinnamon,
cloves, ginger
Flavour : Sweet
Best cooked with
Fruits & vegetables : Bell peppers,
eggplant, potatoes,
tomatoes, zucchini
Proteins : Chicken, fish, cheeses
Best dishes : Salad dressings, sauces,
dry rubs, marinade
Best paired with : Garlic powder,
rosemary, thyme,
oregano
Flavour : Bitter
Best cooked with
Fruits & Vegetables : Potatoes, tomatoes,
mushrooms
Proteins : Beans, lentils, shellfish
Best dishes : Risotto, soups
Best paired with : Oregano, sage,
thyme
Flavour : Sweet
Best cooked with
Fruits & Vegetables : Carrots, citrus, corn,
peas, sweet potatoes,
squash
Proteins : Chicken, lentils, duck
Best dishes : Curries, rice
Best paired with : Cinnamon, cumin,
ginger, turmeric
Flavour : Earthy, sweet
Best cooked with
Fruit & Vegetables : Apples, carrots, pears,
sweet potato, squash
Proteins : Chicken, lamb
Best dishes : Fruit sauces, desserts,
breads
Best paired with : Cloves, nutmeg
Flavour : Earthy, sweet
Best cooked with
Fruit & vegetables : Apples, beets,squash,
tomato, sweet potatoes
Protein : Lamb
Best dishes : Sauces, desserts, breads
used in curries, soups,
marinades, desserts,
beans
Best paired with : Cinnamon, nutmeg,
allspice, basil
Flavour : Earthy, peppery
Best cooked with
Fruit & vegetables : Bell peppers, potatoes,
onions, tomato
Proteins : Chicken, beef,
fish, tofu
Best dishes : Curries, soups,
sauces, stuffing,
dry rub,marinades
Best paired with : Chilli powder, cumin,
cinnamon
Flavour : Smokey, earthy
Best cooked with
Fruit & vegetable : Eggplant, tomatoes,
zucchini, carrots, corn,
green beans
Proteins : Beans, chicken,
beef, fish, lentils, tofu
Best dishes : Curries, rice, soups,
sauce, dry rubs,
marinades
Best paired with : Garlic powder,
turmeric, ginger,
cinnamon, oregano
Flavour : Savoury
Best cooked with
Fruits & vegetables : Cabbage, tomatoes,
zucchini,
carrots,mushrooms
Proteins : Beans, chicken, beef,
fish, tofu
Best dishes : Curries, soups,
sauces, stir-fries,
dressings,dry rubs,
marinades
Best paired with : Oregano, cumin,
coriander, turmeric
Flavour : Sweet , warm
Best cooked with
Fruits & vegetables : Carrots, citrus, sweet
potatoes, beets, squash
Proteins : Chicken, beef,
fish, tofu
Best dishes : Rice, curries,
stir-fries, marinades
Best paired with : Garlic powder
Flavour : Sweet
Best cooked with
Fruits & Vegetables : Broccoli, carrot,
cabbage, squash,
cauliflower, sweet
potatoes
Proteins : Lamb
Best dishes : Rice, stuffing, sauces
Best paired with : All spices, cloves
Flavour : Earthy
Best cooked with
Fruits & vegetables : Artichokes,
tomatoes, bell
peppers, zucchini,
potatoes, mushrooms
Proteins : Beans, chicken,
fish, lamb
Best dishes : Soups, salad
dressings, tomato
sauces, dry rubs,
marinades
Best paired with : Chilli powder, bay
leaves, thyme
Flavour : Sweet, warm
Best cooked with
Fruits & vegetables : Bell peppers, squash,
cauliflower, broccoli,
potatoes
Proteins : Chicken, shellfish,
lamb, tofu
Best dishes : Rice, soups, salad
dressings, marinades
Best paired with : Garlic powder, chilli
powder, cardamom,
cinnamon, cumin
Flavour : Earthy
Best cooked with
Fruits & vegetables : Mushrooms, onions,
peas, potatoes
Proteins : Beans,chicken, lamb,
fish
Best dishes : Marinade
Best paired with : Garlic powder,
oregano, thyme, basil
Flavour : Earthy
Best cooked with
Fruits & vegetables : Carrots, tomatoes,
zucchini, cauliflower,
green beans, peas
Proteins : Beef, chicken, lamb,
lentils
Best dishes : Soups, salad dressings,
dry rubs, marinades
Best paired with : Oregano, rosemary
Flavour : Peppery, bitter
Best cooked with
Fruit & vegetables : Cauliflower, cabbage,
potatoes, sweet potatoes
Proteins : Beans, lentils, chicken,
fish, tofu
Best dishes : Curries, rice
Best paired with : Cardamom, garlic
powder

This is a rough guide for recipes that have been used for generations. Of course, you
can go ahead, be adventurous and create new exciting dishes and conjure new fusions
and recipes. We would love to know about them.
Happy cooking!

References

  1. How to use Spices : Recipes and Cooking : Food Network
  2. The Ultimate Infographic Guide to Spices: Cook Smarts
  3. A Beginner’s Guide to Herbs and Spices : Health
  4. How to Cook with Spices : Unlock Food

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