What to do with sumac

Sumac is a dried spice powder with origins in Middle Eastern cooking. It is a rich, dark red colour and has a lemony tang. You might also encounter it as sumach or sumaki, just don’t confuse it with the — helpfully named…

What to do with fresh nutmeg

Fresh nutmeg is a spice mercenary; whether you’re preparing sweet or savoury food, nutmeg will work for you. Let me emphasise that we’re talking about fresh nutmeg, which is in a completely different league to the pre-ground stuff. Buy it…

What to do with saffron

A pinch of saffron threads is all it takes to transform a dish of plain rice into a rich golden-yellow dish as delicious for the eyes as the palate. Although widely described as the most expensive spice by weight, most…

What to do with verjuice

Verjuice, if you’re in Australia (and by extension New Zealand), is synonymous with Maggie Beer, the Australian celebrity cook who first commercialised it in the 80s. Before that, the fermented grape juice had fallen out of popular use, despite having a history…

What to do with orange blossom water

Scented waters such as rose water, or orange blossom water are such a subtle but wonderful way of adding a new dimension to everything from cakes to salad dressings. You’ll find orange blossom water (also known as orange flower water) used in Mediterranean…

What to do with Angostura bitters

Angostura bitters are a completely vegan alcohol concoction most well known for their use (a few drops at a time) in cocktails. At that rate, one bottle will last you a lifetime so here are some other ways you can use this…

What to do with preserved lemons

Preserved lemons are pickled in salt and their own juices; the result is salty morsels that add a punch of intense lemon flavour to savoury dishes. The flesh can be used for its pungent flavour, but the most useful part…

What to do with black rice

Black rice – also known as purple rice, longevity rice and forbidden rice – is nutritionally dense, texturally delightful and as enjoyable in sweet dishes as savoury. It’s easiest to prepare when soaked overnight. Soak 250g of rinsed black rice…

What to do with turmeric

If you’re new to vegetarianism or veganism, then one of the first recipes you’ll master will probably be a good scrambled tofu. Turmeric is an essential ingredient in this popular dish; the flavour of turmeric is quite earthy and slightly…

What to do with cardamom

This spice – which comes in pods, or as seeds or powder – has a very intense, strong and recognisable aroma; you’ll only need a little to bring a new dimension to sweet or savoury dishes. And that may come…