Since visiting Zanzibar years ago, I have been fascinated by spices. A visit to a local spice market made me return to Cape Town with tons of different kinds of spices, but I had no idea how to use them. I grew up in a home where food was plenty and delicious but we did not create many exotic dishes. Therefore, I was clueless, but decided to try by making Indian Butter Chicken with home-roasted and ground garam masala.
Following the success of our Single-Origin Rooibos teas in tins, we wanted to create something different. As South Africans still prefer their Rooibos tea in tea bags, we decided to create a range of Rooibos based blends. In fully compostable teabags, of course.
Spices are plant parts that are more densely loaded with flavour than most other ingredients used in cooking. While herbs always come from leafy parts, spices tend to derive from seeds, fruits, roots, stems, flowers, or bark, and are usually dried.
In addition to flavour, many spices have antimicrobial properties. Spices have been valued throughout history, in religious ceremonies and medicine as much as in storing and cooking food. Science has shown us that these once-mythical plant parts are in fact the vessels of chemicals known as flavour (or aroma) compounds, generated to help plants survive and reproduce, performing roles such as repelling animals and protecting against bacteria. By happy coincidence, many of these compounds have aromas that are pleasant to humans.My garam masala mix was an instant success and my journey into the world of spices began. Fragrant spices are much used in traditional Cape cuisine, also known as Cape Malay cuisine. For hundreds of years, spices and people from east and west have been passing through Cape Town and they have left a legacy in our local world of flavours.