The best natural salt alternatives

Food 29/08/2019

Spices are some of the best things ever when it comes to cooking! They add colour and flavour to all sorts of meals.

Spices make it easy to master the delicacies from flavours around the world and here are some of our favourites.

Great in salads, on pasta or in couscous. It’s tasty with carrots, peas or broad beans.

Add to roast or grilled meats, bread, homemade pizza, tomato sauce, beans, potatoes or egg dishes. Consider growing some rosemary; it’s a hardy plant and does well outside.

Add nutmeg with black pepper to homemade white and cheese sauces. It also adds warmth and flavour to homemade potato, cabbage and cauliflower soups.

Perfect for pesto, marinades, dressings, sauces, sandwiches, soups and salads. Basil is traditionally used in Mediterranean cooking, in tomato-based pasta sauces, pizzas and bolognese. Use lemon, Thai and holy basil in South Asian and Thai dishes.

Commonly added to Asian spice mixes and curry pastes. Cardamom also works well in baked goods and sweet breads, with cloves and cinnamon, for a taste of Scandinavia.

It works well in most dishes, including vegetable or seafood stews or vegetable soup. Add a pinch of chilli with a little mustard to spice up a cheese sauce, helping you use less cheese. Combine with cumin, coriander seeds and turmeric to give foods an Indian twist.

Cinnamon is an important spice in Turkish and Middle Eastern cooking, where it is used to flavour chicken and lamb dishes. Use it to deepen the flavour of cottage pie, curries, tagines, casseroles, roast vegetables, bolognese sauce or stewed fruit.

Great in mashed potato, casseroles, salads, baked potatoes, low-fat cream cheese, fish and poultry. Chive flowers are edible and look good too.

Add coriander leaves to salads, soups (eg carrot and coriander soup), salsas, curries and fish and chicken dishes, or combine it with lime and chilli in stir fries.

Popular in Russian, Eastern European, Greek and Scandinavian cooking, dill is a welcome addition to cottage cheese, low-fat cream cheese, omelettes, seafood, steak, potato salad and cucumber dishes. Try adding dill to broad beans and rice and serve with koftas (made from lean minced meat), as found in Iranian cooking.


After black pepper, cumin is the most-used spice worldwide. It is flavoursome without too much spiciness. Cumin goes with practically any dish but particularly with lamb, game, beans and rice. Combine with oregano and chilli for a Mexican twist, or with cardamom, coriander and turmeric for a taste of India.

Ginger enhances sweet and savoury dishes. Fresh ginger can be grated into stir fries and curries during cooking, or sprinkled over meat before baking or barbecuing. It can also be used in salad dressings or added to rice. Ground ginger works well with stewed fruits.

Popular in Greek and Mediterranean cooking. Use it to marinate meats, poultry and seafood before grilling, in egg dishes, breads, casseroles and salads. It’s also great in spaghetti bolognese and tomato salsas. Marjoram is a good oregano substitute, but tastes milder.

For a Hungarian twist, team paprika with caraway, coriander, cinnamon and dill. Combine with garlic for a Spanish flavour. Paprika goes well with lamb, chicken and fish dishes, on baked sweet potato wedges, or in beans or scrambled egg.

Goes with roast lamb, grilled steak, fish, chicken, veg, potato dishes, omelettes, stuffing, soft cheeses, marinades, dressings, sauces and soups.

Sage is traditional in Italian and French cooking, added to meats, poultry and stuffing, and is often chopped and stirred into pasta and gnocchi.

Native to Siberia and western Asia, tarragon is a key herb in French cooking. It goes well with poultry, fish, egg dishes, beef and vegetable soups. It can also be added to salad dressings.

dd whole sprigs to slow-cooked meals and casseroles and remove at the end. Thyme works well with other herbs like rosemary, parsley, sage, savoury and oregano, and is used in bouquet garni. It can flavour most meats, including chicken and game (as a marinade or in a sauce) and is a tasty addition to roast vegetables. Tuck sprigs inside a chicken, along with fresh lemon, before roasting. Pair thyme with paprika, oregano and cayenne pepper for Cajun cuisine, and with cinnamon, nutmeg and cayenne pepper for Caribbean meals.

For a hint of North Africa, use turmeric with ginger in meat and vegetable dishes, or flavour rice with it. A little turmeric goes a long way; as it cooks, its flavour intensifies.