Time to spice things up
Rooted Spices started round my kitchen table, with a singular aim: to find the best tasting spices possible. I wanted to bridge the gap between those fragrant bags of spices you pick up at overseas markets and the dusty, decades-old jars found at the back of British spice cupboards.
I began to track-down samples and tasted hundreds (and hundreds!) of different spices against plain rice and lentils. What became clear is that different regions had different specialties. There was fragrant cardamom from Guatemala, sweet cinnamon from Sri Lanka and shiny black Urfa pul biber from southern Turkey. No wonder – each region has growing conditions best-suited to specific spices, and generations of farmers who know how to get the best out of a harvest.
Bringing something different to the table
While supermarkets often mix together spices, and list them as coming from ‘countries of multiple origin’ I set about compiling a range of ‘Single Origin Spices’, each picked for their incredible taste, freshness and potency.
Over time, the range has expanded into blends too – both traditional spice mixes as well as our own unique spice blends. The mission here at Rooted Spices is to liberate spices from the back of cupboards – after all, spices aren’t just for the occasional curry, but for giving everyday dishes a boost. Whether it’s a pinch of Turkish chilli over a fried egg or Shichimi Togarashi taking mac + cheese to the next level, using a pinch of something really potent makes all the difference.
I was working on the food desk at The Sunday Times when I founded Rooted Spices in 2018. I’d been watching the pace of change in the coffee and chocolate industries – and figured it was time that spices caught up.
I set up the company with a childhood friend who I spent a seminal summer with in Nepal, aged seventeen, where we worked and cooked in a children’s shelter. It was funny looking back at photographs – there we were in the kitchen stirring great vats of plain rice and pappy vegetables. It was the bags of colourful spices which transformed the humble ingredients into dal bati and perhaps ignited what was to become a serious passion.
I spent a decade working as a food writer and editor – always gravitating toward food markets on my travels. One epic expedition took me along a big chunk of the spice route (driving a Nissan Micra from London to Mongolia) where I marvelled at the spice markets of Samaarkand (and felt such gratitude for the spices which flavoured watery-knuckle broths on less-salubrious parts of the route). Finally, I took the jump into making those vivid bags of spices I’d cram in my suitcase available to everyone, and so Rooted Spices was born.