Small amounts of spices can complement both sweet and savoury dishes – use them sparingly so they don't overwhelm natural flavours
ALLSPICE is a tropical spice with the warm and fragrant aroma of cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. The ground version is used in breads, pies and puddings, while whole allspice is used in turkey brines and mulled wine. Pair it with: Asparagus, beetroot, carrot, coffee, ham, lamb, sweet potato, turkey.
CINNAMON, from the inner bark of several species of the Cinnamomum genus, is used as an aromatic condiment in sweet and savoury dishes, bakes and teas. Pair it with: Apple, banana, blackberry, blueberry, carrot, date, orange, plum.
GINGER in dried, ground form, is a star ingredient in festive bakes, but the fresh version of this root packs tons of warm, pungent flavour that works well with meat and vegetables, stir-fries, soups, marinades, sauces and curries. Pair it with: Apricot, banana, beef, chicken, chocolate, lemon, orange, pineapple, plum, pork.
NUTMEG comes from the seed of the same tree that mace is harvested from, but its flavour is more bittersweet, with deep woody tones. It’s delicious in fruit-based desserts and fruit cakes, and adds depth to cheesy sauces. Pair it with: Asparagus, carrot, cauliflower, lamb, orange, potato.
STAR ANISE is the sweetish dried seed pod of an evergreen tree. It has a strong flavour with powerful liquorice undertones and is delicious in syrups for poaching fruit, for spicing tropical fruit, and for heightening the sweetness of root vegetables. Pair it with: Apple, beetroot, chicken, fig, leek, lemon, lime, mango, nectarine, pear, pork.
VANILLA pods are the fruits of several kinds of orchids from the Vanilla genus. Once harvested, the pods are dried. When you’ve scraped out the seeds, place the pods in a jar of sugar, or infuse them into custards and creams. (One vanilla pod is roughly equivalent to 3 t vanilla extract.) Pair it with: Apple, blackberry, granadilla, grapefruit, lime, papaya, peach.