I came across this list sent to me in a newsletter by Julia Jones of "NewBorn Mothers" - Some of my favourites are amongst those listed and most go well in your winter broths, nourishing and yummy - perfect for a new mama...
Julia goes on to say: "Spices can be completely overwhelming for people who don’t usually cook with them, so I’ve limited this to my top ten listed here – plus salt, pepper and garlic because most people already feel comfortable cooking with them. In general, I recommend using whole spices where possible, rather than ground, just because they are fresher and more versatile that way. In some cases, I’ve suggested powdered spices instead, generally where it is inconvenient to use the whole spice.
You can fry whole spices lightly in ghee at the beginning of cooking, as you would onions or garlic. You’ll know they are ready when the aroma is released or the moment the first seed pops. Now the prana, or life-force, is released and you can add the next ingredients. If you burn the seeds, which is very easy to do, throw them out and start again.
Powdered spices are usually added later in cooking to avoid burning.
Whole or powdered spices can be made into tea.
It’s safer to avoid large amounts of spices during pregnancy, or if there are any concerns about the pregnancy. Please ask your health professional for guidance.
Newborn Mothers Top Ten Spices
1. Fennel seeds.
Sweet, astringent, cooling, laxative, unctuous, delicate, relieves gas, promotes appetite, stimulant, diuretic, relieves cramps.
Fennel has a licorice/aniseed flavour that is lovely in sweet or savoury foods. Use whole seeds. 2. Cardamom pods
Sweet, pungent, heating, light, oily, relieves gas, diuretic, expels mucous, promotes appetite.
Use whole pods, peel off the green skin and discard. Grind the grey/black seeds in the mortar and pestle or coffee grinder before using. Can be replaced with cardamom powder but you will need to use a lot more.
3. Turmeric powder
Bitter, pungent, astringent, heating, dry, light, antibiotic, relieves gas.
Turmeric powder has a strong bitter taste so use in moderation. It is excellent on your skin, but makes a terrible mess! Put it straight on or mix with a little massage oil for rashes and to prevent infection.
4. Cumin seeds
Pungent, bitter, cooling, relieves gas.
Cumin seeds are a great all round spice, and have a lovely mild flavour so you can use cumin liberally. Use whole seeds.
5. Coriander powder
Sweet, astringent, cooling, light, oily, smooth, diuretic, relieves gas.
Coriander seeds are too rough to eat whole. Powder is easier and more convenient to use but you can grind your own if you prefer. The powder has a mild taste and can be used to thicken sauces and curries.
Pungent, heating, sweet, light, expels mucous, relieves gas, relieves pain.
Fresh ginger is sweeter and juicier than powdered ginger, but powder can be used if you don’t have fresh ginger.
7. Asafetida (hing)
Pungent, heating, relieves cramps, promotes appetite, relieves pain, aphrodisiac, antiseptic.
Asafetida is a resin that tastes and smells very strong, so buy compounded asafetida only ever use a pinch. It is not used for the flavour but for its healing properties. Asafetida aids digestion and balances the airy qualities of food, so it is particularly used when cooking beans.
8. Fenugreek seeds
Bitter, pungent, heating, tonic, expels mucous, rejuvenative, aphrodisiac,Galactagogue.
Fenugreek seeds have a maple syrup flavour with a slightly bitter, burnt twist. They can ruin a meal if you burn them so fry on a very gentle heat and use sparingly. It is quite natural for your breastfed baby to smell like fenugreek if you are eating it! Use whole seeds.
Sweet, astringent, pungent, heating, promotes appetite, sedative, aphrodisiac, calms nervous system.
Nutmeg aids digestion, relieves pain and induces sleep. Go easy on nutmeg if you are constipated. Buy whole nutmeg and grate as needed
10. Cinnamon powder
Sweet, pungent, heating, relieves gas, healing, expels mucous, diuretic, relieves pain.
Cinnamon is the inner bark of a tree and is a good general spice for most body types. Powder is easier and more convenient to use but you can grind your own if you prefer."
Julia Jones "Newborn Mothers" (July 2021)
NOTE: These are all the spices you'll need to cook everything in her postpartum recipe book!