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August 19, 2013


The 5pm Dining blog is looking forward to the first episode of The Incredible Spice Men which is being broadcast on BBC2 tonight.

Starring Cyrus Todiwala and Leith’s own Tony Singh, the five episode series aims to encourage Brits to bring their spices out from the back of the cupboard, blow the dust off the packaging and put them into everyday use.

Spicing up tradition

You might imagine that chilli, cardamom, cinnamon and cumin are best employed in curries but Cyrus and Tony want to show how they can be used to pep up trad British dishes such as fish ‘n’ chips; roast lamb or Welsh rarebit.

‘Don’t be afraid,’ says Tony. ‘Spicy doesn’t mean hot. Spices are subtle, sweet, pungent and the easiest way to make everyday food sensational.’

Over the course of the five programmes, the gag-cracking duo zip up and down the length and breadth of Britain singing the praises of British produce and cooking it all up with generous amounts of coriander, ginger and turmeric.

Falling in love again

‘It’s like falling in love again with old familiar favourites that have been taken for granted and got left behind like wall flowers at a dance’ says Tony.  ‘When you taste the recipes I hope you’ll fall in love with our spiced-up classics…’

[Tony Singh: tackled the pies at Easter Road][5]
Tony Singh: tackled the pies at Easter Road

Tony is a man who always has a twinkle in his eye. He enjoys a cheeky joke or two and delights in verbally poking people to see how they react.

Busting a spicy move

Despite knowing that, he still shows a surprising amount of verve in the TV series and he busts a few ballsy moves as he travels the country.

He puts cumin and coriander in the half-time meat pies at Hibs’ football grounds and adds chilli and coriander to the full English in a trucker’s greasy spoon. He also spices up the fish ‘n’ chips of some bikers in Hastings. Not something that Hugh F-W might get away with.

Taste the spice, Buy the book

Naturally, the TV series is accompanied by a handsome book. As well as detailing the couple’s culinary journey around the UK, it also has dozens of spiced up recipes and little chapters devoted to spices such as star anise, cloves and cassia bark.

These little mini-lectures give a snap shot of the spice’s history and culinary context often alongside a little biographical tale from Tony or Cyrus.

The book has an RRP of £20 (or £10.99 on Amazon) and is published by BBC Books/Ebury Publishing.

It is too early to mention Christmas…?

[See the show, buy the book, Christmas sorted.][7]
See the show, buy the book, Christmas sorted.