Spices are a great addition to any cook’s repertoire. From the subtle citrus nuances of ground coriander, to the full blown heat of chillies, there’s a cornucopia of flavours to be had in a well stocked spice collection. Some tips for keeping spices at their optimum:

Always store spices in a cool dark cupboard. Heat and sunlight diminishes the taste.

Try where possible to grind your own spices as you want them. This leads to a better flavour in the dish

Pan roast whole spices for curries. A few minutes over low heat in a dry pan helps release the volatile oils to give a more full flavour. Be careful not to burn them!

Its better to use individual spices like coriander, cumin, turmeric, fenugreek and chilli,  in curries rather than a standard curry powder mix . his allows you to tailor make the flavour you actually want, adding more or less of some spices than others.  However, if it’s an emergency, and you don’t have a full stash of spices in the cupboard, a  good quality curry powder mix is better than nothing!

Don't forget the 'cake spices' like cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger – these are useful for baking but also come into their own in Morrocan tagines.