The rhizome of the tropical Zingiber officinale plant, ginger is native to Asia, but had reached Europe in dried form by the classical Greek ages, and is cultivated in various parts of the world, including the Caribbean. Used fresh in Chinese, Korean and Indian cuisines; served pickled to accompany sushi; added to cakes, biscuits and marinades as a dried powder; and crystallised for desserts, ginger adds heat and a spicy fragrance to dishes. For this rich Jamaican cake, both fresh and dried ginger are used.
Native to South-East Asia and India, where it is largely cultivated, turmeric is the rhizome of the Curcuma longa plant that belongs to the ginger family. Used both fresh and dried in cooking, turmeric lends a deep-yellow colour, mustard aroma and an earthy, pungent and slightly bitter flavour to dishes. Turmeric is also high in antioxidents, and in Indian cuisine it is upheld for its preservative and antibacterial qualities – fish and other ingredients are often first dusted with turmeric powder before cooking. It is an essential ingredient in this Iranian stew, known as dizi or abgoosht. Named after the stone or metal pot in which it is cooked and served, dizi is eaten in two parts. First the soup is strained and served, then the meat, potatoes and pulses are mashed and eaten with pickles, yoghurt, onion and flatbread.
Mace is the red, lacy layer wrapped around the seed of the nutmeg fruit. Flattened out and dried, it has a more pungent flavour than nutmeg, and is often used ground or as pieces known as blades in savoury dishes. It adds depth and sweetness to this spicy stew from Manado, Indonesia.
Photography Brett Stevens. Styling Justine Poole.
As seen in Feast magazine, September 2014, Issue 35. For more recipes and articles, pick up a copy of this month's Feast magazine or check out our great subscriptions offers here.