With the UK currently on lockdown and people still panic-buying from the shops, you might be finding it difficult to work out what to cook for dinner each night.
Instead of worrying about finding loads of new ingredients at the supermarket, why not take a look inside your kitchen cupboards and see what spices you have tucked away.
Spices can easily make a rather dull dish seem much more exciting and tasty.
But if you’re wondering where to start with the cooking, Arun Kapil, Chef and Founder of fresh spice company, Green Saffron, has shared his top tips.
Here’s a look at what he had to say on everything from using up old spices to calming down a meal when you’ve added a little bit too much spice.
His first piece of advice is all to do with best before dates and essentially he doesn’t want you to worry about them.
He said: “Spices will never ‘go off’ or do you any harm once they’re past their Best Before date, they’ll just not taste as vibrant, or as they should.
“So don’t worry. If they’re coming to their end, simply pop small amounts of them into a blender and make your own Garam Masala. What can go wrong?
“After each spice you add to the mill, give your blend a quick smell. Once you like the fragrance, lightly toast your mix and pop it into a jar. Every so often, pop some of your blend into the different dishes you’re cooking.”
He continues to say that he does this often and stirs his mix into baked beans or beats with butter and uses to flavour fish or steaks.
You could also sprinkle it over some root vegetables and roast in the oven with a little oil.
“You get the picture,” he says. “Experiment and enjoy.”
And while it’s great to experiment, Arun does point out that there are some spices you should use sparingly.
He explains: “There are some spices that need to be used with caution, or they’ll wreck the dish you’re cooking.
“The common ones to use judiciously are turmeric, green cardamom, cloves, nutmeg.”
But if you’ve found yourself using too much chilli in your food and don’t want it to go to waste, there are a few things you can do to save the meal.
He says: “Depending on the dish you’re cooking, the addition of lemon or lime juice, yoghurt (or crème fraiche) and a pinch of sugar will help to calm things down.
“A glug or two buttermilk, yoghurt or milk will help cool you down quickest if you’ve bitten into a chilli not water or beer.”
Arun’s final piece of advice is to remember that not all spices are equal and he shared a look at the ‘basics’.
“Spices are all about flavour NOT heat and each spice has its unique flavour characteristic,” he adds.
“For Heat think, chillies, ginger and peppers, for perfume, think cloves, green cardamom, mace and nutmeg.
“Earthiness you need turmeric, cumin, paprika, while coriander seeds, fennel and star anise will add zing and depth to food.
“Vanilla and cinnamon can be added for sweetness and black cardamom and smoked paprika for smokiness.”