It is no longer news that Herbs and Spices make food tastier while boosting your health. Food is always better when properly spiced. Herbs, like Basil, Thyme, Rosemary etc, are the leaves of a plant, while spices, like Nutmeg, Ginger, Garlic, Cinnamon etc, are usually made from the seeds, berries, bark, or roots of a plant.
The moment you master the basics of herbs and spices, you will become a better chef, and your loved ones will be impressed. The recipe is simple; proper use of spices is the icing on the cake, here are some basic rules to undoubtedly help you bring out their maximum effect.
When to spice dishes
Add the exotic spices at the beginning of meal preparation to undoubtedly enhance the aroma. Spices like ginger and garlic is best added early in the cooking process. Herbs may be included towards the end for more distinct flavour, or at the beginning for more blended flavours. Ground spices and fragrant herbs release their flavours readily, in long-cooking dishes, such as stews, Banga stew, or even soup etc. When adding pepper, be careful with it; if you’re cooking for a long time, add the spice slightly later, otherwise, it can lose a lot of flavours. Add less delicate herbs, such as bay leaf, at the beginning of the cooking because those strong herbs release their aroma gradually.
For uncooked foods, such as salad dressings, luscious fruits or fruit juices, add spices and herbs several hours before serving them, so the flavours can mix and bind properly. To adequately prepare salad dressings, mix the spices into vinegar and gently let the mixture marinade before adding the oil.
How to add them
Use a dry spoon to take the desired amount of the spice out of the packaging.
Do not sprinkle the spice into boiling water or dish directly from the container since steam can reduce the strength of the spice left in the container and causes the spice to spoil sooner.
For spices like curry powder, opinions may differ. You get the best results from curry powder if you blend it with a liquid before adding it to your dish. The liquid allows the flavours of the spice that make up the curry powder to fully infuse into the dish. Options include yoghurt, coconut milk or stock.
After adding your spices, keep them tightly covered and store them in a cool, dry place. Whole spices stay fresh for up to 2 years while ground spices have a 6-month shelf life. Store red spices, such as paprika and red pepper, in the refrigerator. They will hold their colour and keep their flavour longer.
How much spice is enough?
There is no general rule about how much to use. The sharpness and impact of each spice differ according to the type of dish, therefore it is best to start with tried and tested recipes. Later, we can carefully adjust the amount of spice to suit our taste. Actually, there is a rule and the rule is: ‘PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT’!
The pungency of each spice and herb differs and its effect on different foods varies. It is best to start with recipes from a reliable source; the amounts can be adjusted to suit an individual’s taste. When no recipe is available, start with little spices and adjust when necessary. Red pepper flavours increase in intensity upon cooking. Use in small quantity to allow the unique flavour to intensify during cooking.