Over the last week I have been up to my elbows in spices and curries. Not that I could ever complain, as they are my favourite foods. Well, apart from truffles, beef cheeks and jelly.
I know I have often shared with you my adoration for intensely warm on-the-bone lamb curry at Marahaja in Cape Town and the fiery pungent prawn curry on the KZN north coast at Seabelle, but I haven’t found those two particular dishes beaten anywhere.
When dry-roasting the heady spices to make a rich masala mixture at home, I am always taken back to my first visit to a spice garden in Zanzibar.
The perfume from the clove trees hung in the air, their dried flower buds going on to infuse exotic seafood curries later on. I remember digging for the ginger-like root of turmeric: earthy but subtle in taste, its golden powder adding a yellow hue to coconut and lentil dhal.
Sweet, warm and powerfully fragrant were the small pods of cardamom, perfect for infusing milky rice puddings and sweet Indian chai tea. And then my favourite: the red lipstick plant, with its bright red colour and stay-on-all-day stain.
There is nothing I crave more than a curry. In fact, I quite fancy trying my treasured pack of beef cheeks in a rich, complex sauce with one of my newly dry-roasted masalas, but that will have to wait until the weekend.
Looking for something spicy? Check out our best of list for Asian cuisine.