• When Sarina Kamini's teach spice, she does it in a way that shows you where you and spice can meet. (Samira Damirova)Source: Samira Damirova
Meet Sarina Kamini, the self-professed spice mistress, who draws on her Kashmiri and Australian heritage, and her experience as a food writer, to explore spice and its potential.
By
Sarina Kamini

16 Mar 2021 - 12:32 PM  UPDATED 6 Sep 2021 - 11:25 AM

How is your spice game when cooking at home? Are there spices that you want to understand a little more about? Perhaps, you want to use them outside of your favourite curry.

Whether you know it or not, there is a spice story within all those jars.

My name is Sarina Kamini. I'm a journalist, food critic, author and teacher. My dad was Indian and my mum is Australian and their union was the first marriage that was not arranged in our Kashmiri family history. Dad packed memories and recipes in the suitcases he brought to Australia with mum, and I fed on these like a true gourmand.

For us, as with all Indian families, recipes mean spice. And spice means story.

This is how I became The Spice Mistress. 

Turn black cardamom into something remarkable with gobi sabji.

For some, spice is beloved and understood. For others, spice is a riddle; a foreign language. Others let those jars gather dust on the back pantry shelf, used as rarely as the recipe for which they were initially bought.

But for a spice mistress, the world of aromatics is a place of magic, wisdom, health, connection and communication. Spice holds all of our secrets, regardless of our cultural origin. Aromatics work as receptacles of memory - a childhood stored in the aroma of cinnamon and grandma's German apple cake, or cumin seeds fried in ghee that is parantha in a hot pan.

"Spice is deeper than masala, more diverse than curry and has spread further than India."

Our relationship to spice tells us who we've been. But it also has the power to tell us who we are.

Spice is deeper than masala, more diverse than curry and has spread further than India.

When I teach people about spice, I do it in a way that shows you where you and spice can meet. I remove spice from its traditional context. I take it out of the shadow of curry in order and place it in its own light. In so doing, you can see spice more clearly.

This fortnightly column will combine words, video and a recipe to share the profile of a spice, explain its basic chemistry and speak to the aromatic category to which it belongs. I will share how it structures a dish and suggest how to use each spice daily, across any cuisine.

"Spice is a portal to the delicious experience of all that life and taste and connection can be."

No spice story is complete without a little flavour education, so we will dive into how weight, texture and shape affect the taste profile of a spice. We will grow our understanding of how our mouths shape how we perceive and digest the world.

Spice is a portal to the delicious experience of all that life and taste and connection can be. Enjoy this spice adventure and you might just learn a little something about your own spice rack along the way.

Love the story? Follow the author here: Instagram @thespicemistress @sarina_kamini.

'Not just curry' is a fortnightly recipe column on SBS Food lead by self-professed Spice Mistress herself. It shares the flavourful insights and potential behind a different spice that may be tucked away in your pantries and is celebrated with a brand-new recipe. Find out more via the video below.

Have you got a spice you want to know more about? Or how to use it? Let us know @sbsfood via Instagram or @sbsfood via Facebook.

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