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5 unusual spices and how to use them

5 unusual spices and how to use them

As a nation we love spice but when it comes to home cooking we often don't know how to use them.

A little bit of knowledge goes a long way, and it's incredible how just the addition of a spice here or there can transform dishes.  Here are 5 versatile spices to try and some ideas on how to use them.


It's recommended to use whole cloves, or freshly grinded cloves because they are more savoury. Their pungent, sweet taste marries really well with red meats. Also, you can add them in pies with apples, oranges and plums or even make tea with them!

When you use them in stews,  it's often recommended to spike them right into an onion and place them in your casserole. This way, you don’t have to worry about biting in one.

Discover several spice blends or teas that contain cloves.


Berbere is a spice mixture which is key to Ethiopian and Eritrean cuisine. It usually includes chili peppers, garlic, ginger, basil, korarima, rue, ajwain or radhuni, nigella, and fenugreek. It can be used dry as a rub, or as a paste when mixed with oil.

It marries really well with anything roasted. It is usually used to marinate lamb, chicken, or vegetables. You can also mix it with yogurt and make a dip. It adds warmth and depth to every dish. Be careful not to overdo it though, as it is hot!

Here you can find some great berbere spice options.

Chili pepper - Chipotle

If you like the heat, chili pepper is what you are looking for. It can be used in various dishes, sauces and drinks, dry or fresh.

One of the most popular chillies is Chipotle chili, a smoke dried chili. Its relatively mild but earthy spiciness marries well with scrambled eggs, sandwiches, meats, stews, soups, cocktails and whatever else you want to spice up. Our favourite use of chipotle here at Yumbles is red hot chili omelette!  Chipotle is one of many chillies you can try, all have something unique to them not just the heat intensity but flavour profiles.   The rare chilli collection is a great way to discover the breadth of flavours that different chillies can provide.


The sumac spice comes from deep red berries that grow on sumac bushes and then grounded into coarse powder. It has a tangy lemony flavour and can be added to any kind of dish, not only for flavour but to colour your dishes as well!

Many people love it as a rub on barbecued meat, but also with fish. It can definitely add a little something in your casseroles, salads, vegetables and flatted breads.

For pure sumac and sumac containing blends check out the collection here.

Ras El hanout

This is actually a mixture of spices and not a spice on its own. Its name – head of the shop when translated from Arabic – explains everything. Each shop would make its own blend of the best spices they had.

Ras el Hanout ingredients are therefore not always combined in the same way so we cannot say for sure what they are. You can rub it on meats or stir it in stews, rice, couscous or even soups. 

Spice specialists the Gourmet Spice Company and Spice Kitchen both offer fantastic ras el hanout blends.


Do you have some favourite recipes with these spices? Share in the comments below.

For much more spice inspiration check out the full collection of hand roasted and hand ground spices and spice rubs here.

  #Food & Drink   #spices   #Cooking & baking tips   #chilli   #cloves   #berbere   #chipotle   #chillies   #redhotchilli   #sumac   #raselhannout

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