Sizl spices: instant flavour in a jar

Sizl spices: instant flavour in a jar

by Great British Chefs 30 June 2020

Fed up with what was on offer in the shops, Mallika Basu launched Sizl so home cooks could get access to the very best spices from around the world.

Great British Chefs is a team of passionate food lovers dedicated to bringing you the latest food stories, news and reviews.

Great British Chefs is a team of passionate food lovers dedicated to bringing you the latest food stories, news and reviews.

Spices are one of the quickest, simplest ways to add bags of flavour to your cooking. Just a pinch of turmeric can turn sauces a golden, earthy yellow, while the likes of cumin and coriander form the backbone of thousands of our favourite dishes. But when it comes to actually buying them, we tend to think of them as nothing more than a commodity.

Mallika Basu wants to change that. As a food writer, cookbook author and columnist for the Evening Standard she certainly knows her way around a kitchen, but when it came to buying spices to cook with at home, she always felt a little underwhelmed.

‘Spices are the biggest shortcut to flavour, yet they’re sold mostly as a commodity in packets, tubs and jars that aren’t easy to store or even get a spoon inside,’ she says. ‘I wanted to launch a range of spices that were heady and high quality, as well as practical for passionate home cooks like myself.’

Deciding to take matters into her own hands, Mallika launched Sizl with her business partner Amar Dani in 2019. With sixteen individual spices on offer (plus five different spice blends), the pair are on a mission to make cooks think about spices as more than just a basic ingredient, offering something of true quality that shines through in cooking.

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‘Amar has run a successful wholesale organic spice business for over a decade now, working directly with farmers and co-operatives to source spices from places like Indonesia, Tanzania, Madagascar and India. He’s such an expert he can tell you where turmeric comes from just by looking at the colour!’

Many low-quality blends contain fillers such as branches, sticks and olive leaves to bulk out the actual spice content of a jar, something which Sizl avoids entirely. Mallika and Amar also don't go down the route of ‘single-origin’ spices (‘the great marketing myth of the spice world,’ says Mallika) – instead, they use a number of factors to identify the highest quality ingredients they can find.

‘Our turmeric, for instance, is a blend of two different sources, which results in both a high level of curcumin and a robust natural colour. Our chilli powder contains a blend of three different chillies so it offers both a red glow and intense heat. Then there’s our garam masala, which includes high amounts of black cardamom and real cinnamon. Many cheaper garam masalas are bulked out with cheaper spices like coriander and cumin instead.’

If you really want to give your dishes an intense, deep boost of flavour, then try swapping the dusty, stale packets and jars of spices for some of Sizl’s instead – you’ll be able to taste the difference immediately.

Sizl Spices are available online at sizlspices.com.