Spices bring food to life and is a must in every Cape Malay kitchen. It adds colour and taste to any dish and your kitchen cannot go without it. I have several spices in my kitchen which I love experimenting with. It just gives me goosebumps every time I think of adding these fragrant spices to the pot.
All spice is an aromatic spice from the pimento tree. It can be used whole or ground in curries, soups, bredies, desserts and cakes. Its flavour is a combination of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.
Aniseed flavour has similarities with some other spices, such as star anise, fennel and liquorice. Throughout history, people have used aniseed to treat a variety of ailments. Used mainly in confectionery.
Atchar is a type of vegetable pickle. Usually prepared in bulk as it may be stored in a well-sealed glass kar in the refrigerator. Severed as a condiment for any meal.
Barishap is the Malay word for fennel seeds. The seeds are slightly bitter, aniseed in flavour, and used in savoury and fish dishes.
Bay Leaf comes from the bay or laurel tree. Fresh or dried bay leaves are used in cooking for their distinctive flavour and fragrance. The leaves should be removed from the cooked food before eating.
Breyani masala is a blend of whole spices.
Cardamom is the world’s third most expensive spice. It is available ground or whole and is used to flavour curries, soups, salads, puddings and cakes. It’s native to the evergreen forests of India.
Chilli powder is the dried, crushed fruit of various types of chillies. Generally red in colour and used to add flavour and heat to a dish.
Cinnamon comes from the bark of a tropical tree. It is rolled into cinnamon sticks or powdered. Stick cinnamon is used in curries, breyanis and desserts, while ground cinnamon is used for koesisters.
Cloves are aromatic flower buds of a tree native to an island in Indonesia. They are picked when they turn red and are then sun-dried. Ground cloves are stronger than whole ones. Used as a fragrant spice to flavour a variety of savoury and sweet dishes.
Curry leaves can be bought fresh or dried. Most commonly used in curries. Fresh ones are used to garnish curry dishes.
Curry powder is usually a mixture of spices. Consisting of turmeric, coriander, chilli powder, ginger and black or white pepper.
Dhanya, also known as coriander or cilantro, refers to the fresh leaves. Used as a garnish in curries.
Garlic is a member of the onion family. It can be used fresh or dried to flavour savoury dishes.
Ginger has a distinctive flavour. Fresh ginger is used for making curries and breyanis. Dried ground ginger is used for flavouring koesisters, puddings and cakes.
Jeera is the Malay term for cumin. Used as a spice for its distinctive flavour and aroma. Cumin can be used ground or a whole seeds. Used in curries and breyanis.
Koljana is also known as coriander but specifically refers to the dried seeds and ground coriander, which are the parts traditionally used in cooking.
Leaf Masala is a combination of curry powders with a medium intensity. Used for meat, vegetable and chicken curries.
Methi is also known as fenugreek. It is the pod of an annual plant related to the pea. Used in vegetable and chicken curries.
Naartjie Peel is dried (in the sun until hard and dry) and ground into a powder. Used to flavour cakes, puddings, meat dishes and vegetables.
Nutmeg comes from the seeds of the fruit of a dark-leaved evergreen tree. Always used in ground form and best used freshly grated for best results. A little goes a long way.
Paprika is a ground spice made from red bell peppers or sweet red peppers, which gives it its intense and deep red colour. It has a mild, sweet, fruity flavour. Works great as a garnish as well as adding colour to your dishes.
Parsley can be used as herb, a garnish, a spice and a vegetable.
Pepper (white or black) is derived from a vine that bears small berries. Ripe berries are sun-dried and ground to form a white pepper. When the berries are picked just before ripening, they yield black pepper. It’s a favourite in stews but can be used for a wide variety of dishes, even sweet ones.
Roasted masala is a blend of exotic spices that forms a curry powder that has been roasted to extract more flavour.
Rose water is flavoured water made from rose petals. Used to flavour puddings.
Saffron is the most expensive spice in the world. Used to flavour savoury and dessert dishes.
Star seed petal is also called star anise. Used whole or ground in savoury dishes.
Tamarind is the fruit of a tropical tree with a sweetish-sour flavour. The fruit pulp is edible. Considered by many to be too sour, but it is often used in savoury dishes. The ripened fruit becomes sweeter and less sour as it matures and is used in desserts.
Turmeric is also known as borrie. Mainly used in curries and for colouring yellow rice. It contains powerful medicinal properties.