As the days grow shorter and chillier, there’s nothing nicer than cooking up a deliciously comforting meal or sipping on a steaming cup of tea – and adding spices will make them even more warming.
The golden spice, turmeric, brings vibrant yellow colour (use carefully, it may stain hands and clothes!) and a slightly bitter, sharp taste to dishes. Often used in curry blends, it goes particularly well with the sweet, nutty flavour of cauliflower so try in this veggie curry or hearty aloo gobi soup. For a real burst of sunshine, this carrot, ginger and turmeric soup is sure to ward off any autumn chill.
Ginger is a wonderfully versatile spice; it can be fiery or soothing, works equally well in both sweet and savoury dishes, and is readily available fresh, pickled, ground, crystalised or candied. Try starting the day with some stem ginger-infused overnight oats, bake up some classic ginger snap biscuits for a treat, or serve up an Asian-inspired chicken, ginger and lemongrass stir-fry for dinner.
Fragrant and herbal, cardamom pods can be used whole to gently infuse dishes with subtle citrus notes, or the inner seeds can be ground for a stronger flavour in both sweet and savoury recipes. Often used in Indian dishes, this lamb biryani with cardamom-infused rice makes a hearty curry to share, while this set lassi dessert is sweet, creamy and aromatic all in one. For a Scandinavian twist, try baking a batch of these pretty cherry and cardamom swirls.
Although usually associated with baking and desserts, cinnamon (either sticks or ground) is often used in savoury dishes to bring a hint of sweet warmth. Try with a traditional North African tagine where cinnamon, honey and apricots balance out the meaty lamb stew, or in a comforting bowl of chilli con carne where it helps to temper the hot spices. For a classic treat, you can't beat a cinnamon bun (or vegan pastry instead), or use to update the ultimate autumn pud with this spiced brioche bread and butter pudding.
Hot and fiery, cayenne pepper is a key ingredient in many spicy sauces and rubs (such as piri piri), and usually found with smoky paprika in Mexican recipes such as this vegan chilli. A pinch of cayenne is also often used to cut through the richness of creamy or cheesy dishes, you'll find it in a classic buttery hollandaise sauce at brunch, or with a cheesy Welsh rarebit as a simple lunch.
Cloves have a distinctively strong and fruity flavour and are most commonly associated with Christmas (hams, bread sauce, mulled wine...). Beyond the festive season, cloves add a subtle kick to warming drinks; try in a hot toddy, spiced apple juice or fragrant chai spiced tea for the perfect balance of sweet and spice. This orange treacle sponge pudding uses ground cloves which are easier to use in baking.
Star anise has to be one of the prettiest spices around – shaped as an eight-pointed star, the dried spice has a strong aniseed flavour similar to liquorice or fennel. Popular in Asian cuisines (it's one of the key ingredients of Chinese five-spice powder), try in this sticky orange and star anise pork belly recipe, or add to a beautifully fragrant rice pudding. We also love how it transforms a classic French dessert with this pear and star anise tarte tatin.
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