#246 How to choose the best Spices with Ren Patel

08 May 2024

I have the Queen of Spice from Ren’s Kitchen on the show today talking about everything to do with sourcing and investing in the best spices for your food, not just from a nutritional standpoint, but a flavour perspective too.

I’ve always been a fan of spices for their medicinal properties, but today I was blown away by how much Ren taught me about spices and I was shocked at how different spices can taste in their raw whole form.

Ren has been in the spice business for years and has some of the best chefs and restaurants use her spices. Tom Kerridge, Bubala, Palomar, Raffles hotel, Ottolenghi to name a few.

Remember, spices add diversity to your plate – they count as 1/4 point each and we’re aiming for 30 different plant points a week! Even used in small amounts, the addition of spices is suggested to improve gut microbiome composition and reduce markers of inflammation. Plus they have been part of the diet of human populations for thousands of years and add a ton of flavour.

Today we talk what we’re doing WRONG when using spices, what Ren has taught people in her cooking classes and how to source correctly and how to spot the best spices in the market.

You can find out more about Ren and Rens Pantry on her website renspantry.com.

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Spices are a good way to reduce salt by adding complexity to the flavours of a dish.


Turmeric contains a special class of phenolic compounds known as ‘Curcuminoids’ – especially curcumin. They give it its pronounced yellow colour! In human trials, turmeric or curcumin reduced people’s inflammatory markers and pain scores. (Dehzad et al. Cytokine. 2023; Paultre et al. BMJ open sport & exercise medicine. 2021)

Cool tip: Pairing it with black pepper could enhance the absorption and bioavailability of curcumin.


Cumin comes from the seedlike fruits of the Cuminum cyminum plant of the parsley family.

It’s commonly used in traditional medicine like the Ayurvedic system, particularly to aid digestion and treat digestive disorders like chronic diarrhoea and abdominal discomfort.

There are very few human studies, but cumin is thought to possess strong anti-oxidant activity due to its high content of phenolic compounds. In one very small trial, 3 grams of cumin powder per day for three months improved participants’ cholesterol levels. (Zare et al. 2014)

GUEST: Ren Patel (Ren's Kitchen)

I have been teaching curry lovers from all over the country and indeed the world how to make delicious curries at home. www.renskitchen.com During my class i concentrate on ‘spice usage’ by way of my spice masterclass and unravel all the problems my students have making curries … my aim is that they actually make my recipes instead of turning to ready meals, jarred sauces and poor Indian take-outs

Indian cookery classes

My classes are full of information and lots of fun, some of my students have become friends and come back for lots more classes with me.

From me teaching my students all about spices , i learnt that the spices that are available to them are of really poor standard, i mean come on, how can a jar of ‘saw dust’ make a curry taste good?

I've created my own range of spices , available on www.renspantry.com

with Ren Patel (Ren's Kitchen)

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