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Aromatic spices

During my cookery sessions we discuss spices and those that give aroma. The aroma even as a raw spice can be inviting. However, when the spices are used during the cookery process they release their magic and transform the product. However over use of these little morsels can also destroy the dish too!

 

If you learn how to use the spices correctly any cooks can create the best flavour as well as the inviting aroma to entice you .

 

What is aroma? Usually depicts a pleasant, often spicy odour; fragrance, as of a plant, a wine, cooking.

  • My tops 6 spices that are aromatic:
    Bay leaf
    Cardamom
    Curry leaf
    Cinnamon /Cassia bark
    Fennel

How to use the spices

Bay leaf is picked from a bush or tree, washed and can be dried. When the leaf is broken it releases a aromatic oil. The fresh bay leaf gives a pungent, sharp and bitter. When the bay leaf is dried, it releases a subtle aroma  but works wonders in curries and garam masala blends.

Cardamom one of my favourite aromas. On Diwali my parents would have a colourful tray of sweets and cardamom pods are used to cleanse your palette. There are green and brown / black cardamom which give very different aromas.

  • Green cardamom a citrus floral quality note. Can be medicinal like vapour rub or sinus clearing stick. Clear note of camphor and eucalyptus. this is brilliant when used in milky pudding such as rice pudding, cakes and of course curry.  Use sparingly as it can destroy the food due to its over powering nature.
  • Black cardamom a smoky aroma created from the smoking process. Much bigger than its green family friend but has its own distinctive aroma and uses.

 

Curry leaf also known as sweet neem leaves another one of my favourite spices. It has a very distinctive aroma. The leaves are small, pointed, and in clusters, giving releasing a strong aroma of citrus and anise. The best aroma release for curry leaf is to temper the curry leaf in hot oil. It transforms a curry.

 

Cassia Bark  it’s an inviting aroma that reminds me of a chewing gum ( Dentine) I used to have as a young girl. The Cassia releases a sweet, star anise and when eaten will give a warmth flavour and the aroma is the same. It’s homely an exotic. Who would have known a bark can smell so lovely.

 

Fennel seed releases an anise aroma which is clean and medicinal all in one. The sweetness is delicious. best crushed to releases the aroma and grind finely if you don’t like the texture.

 

Coriander the best fragrance of all, as a seed it’s non descript however once crushed it releases a citrus floral and balsamic note. This is the same as chopped coriander leaf.

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