No cook worth their salt (or their pepper) would ever choose to be without their spice collection. Those jars and packets of dried ground seeds, berries, buds, flowers, bark and roots, with their intoxicating, memory-evoking scents and flavors, work culinary magic. Using them cleverly can utterly transform your cooking.
At ckbk, we believe there’s no such thing as ‘enough’ when it comes to spices, so we will be delving into the world spices in all their fragrant, sizzling, sweet and complex variety in the coming weeks and months. Look out for a feast of recipes, cookbooks and more to come.
Think you know spices? ckbk has teamed up with the spice experts at Seasoned Pioneers to test your knowledge of the world's spices.
Take our spice quiz to find out how much you really know »
From Japan to Jamaica and Morocco to Mexico, spice blends are the heart and soul of regional cuisines. You can buy spice blends readymade but it may be easier than you think to make them yourself. Here are six spice blends – and a couple dishes to make with each of them – to get you started:
Star anise and cassia/cinnamon give Chinese five-spice a subtle, aromatic sweetness. Use it in:
Bengali panch phoran
Moroccan ras al hanout
The fragrant heart of many Moroccan recipes. The name of this spice blend translates roughly as ‘head of the shop,’ meaning it was the purveyor’s signature creation.
Japanese shichimi togarashi
This blend of dried spices and citrus peel (the name means ‘seven spice’ but many recipes contain more than just seven) includes dried chilli for a bit of heat.
Jamaican jerk seasonig
Jerk is both a spice/seasoning blend and a style of cooking. Jerk seasoning and jerk cooking are closely associated with Jamaica.
Ground mixed spice
Ground mixed spice (not to be confused with allspice) is the key to many a sweet bake in Europe and the U.S.. Its close relation, pumpkin spice, has reached new heights of fame thanks in large part to latte-lovers.
Christine’s Pepper: The spice that changed the world traces the 3,000-year-old story of ‘the king of spices,’ detailing its history as an expensive commodity, as well as its medicinal uses. The 100 or so recipes include savory include classics such as the ultra-trendy cacio e pepe and Telicherry chicken curry, as well as sweet dishes such as pink pepper blondies.
Inspired by his world travels, John’s Mighty Spice is a celebration of spice-rich dishes from around the globe. Recipes such as Vietnamese Cha Ca La Vong and Indian Cardamom and Pistachio Nut Kulfi are satisfying and easy to prepare.
There are many more spicy titles to explore on ckbk, so you will never be short of recipes to experiment with and perfect.
CKBK TEAM TIP: the ckbk search is a powerful tool for narrowing down your recipe choices. Use the search menu to quickly find the recipes you want according to cuisine type (Thai, Indian, Greek…), course (main, starter, side, snacks, cookies, side dishes…), era when the book was published (2010-present day, 2000s, 1990s and 1980s…), book author, complexity (choose from easy, medium or complex) and diet (vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free). It’s lots faster than flipping through a cookbook collection – and you’ll discover lots of dishes you didn’t even know you wanted to cook, too.