Is your cupboard full of spices?

That might be because you’re one of the many people buying more spices, so you can cook curry, instead of paying for a meal out. So says the Indie. Sales of pre-packed curries are also up sharply. 

Now, I suspect a touch of crunch-washing (i.e. editors mandating reporters that stories must have a credit-crunch angle), nevertheless, I found some of the stats pointed out in the Indie very interesting. These include:



  • Sales of spices in the 12 months to September have increased dramatically: curry powder is up 169 per cent, chilli powder 144 per cent, cinnamon sticks 80 per cent, cumin 21 per cent and coriander 13 per cent
  • Compared with last year, for the 12 weeks to September, sales of fresh dill were down 1 per cent, fresh basil 5 per cent, fresh thyme 16 per cent and fresh tarragon 22 per cent
  • By comparison, sales of fresh coriander and chillies rose 8 per cent, and fresh ginger spiked by 20 per cent. Sales of two popular accompaniments to spicy Thai food, lime and lemongrass, were up 6 and 13 per cent respectively
I’ve certainly picked up a whole load of spices since I started cooking a lot more in the past year and probably have about 20+ jars of various spices. The only problem is that they don’t stay fresh and usable forever and you do ideally need to use them within six months. You also find that some spices from tesco or sainsbury are a bit lame. My other half got given some authentic Hungarian paprika which has really left the tesco’s own in the dust. It’s amazing how much better the Hungarian one is.
In my opinion it’s always best to use fresh chilli and ginger where possible and practical, but here are my fave spices/seeds that you don’t really get fresh:
  • Cumin – this has a fantastic smell when toasted in a dry frying pan. Always toast it, it doesn’t create washing up and makes it so much nicer. I use this in curries, fajita mix and for grilled mackered, along with lemon and olive oil
  • Corriander – this again, should be toasted. Not least of all because if you don’t, when you grind it, it’ll stay in threads rather than grinding to a good fine erm… dust I suppose. Aside from curries, it’s great for carrot and corriander soup
  • Vanilla pods – great for scraping into custard and other sweet dishes
  • Paprika – as I mention above, I have a great Hungarian one which has a lot of flavour (depth and strength) which is great for parprika chicken and other dishes
  • Chinese five-spice – instantly gives dishes an oriental feel and very easy to use as you need little other flavourings with many dishes that use it

If you have another favourite, please leave a comment and suggest a recipe to get started with!


One thought on “Is your cupboard full of spices?

  1. Cumin tip: always get seeds instead of dust and grind it. Still toast it but it’s much tastier. Highly recommend in fajita mix, tried it for the first time this weekend.

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