Sugar And Savoury Spices Liven Up Summer Berries, You Cannot Miss This Out


Last Updated: August 22, 2022, 19:13 IST

This image released by Milk Street shows a recipe for Citrus and Spice Strawberry Compote. (Source: Associated Press)

You cannot possibly give this good old refreshing recipe a miss, try it out because we know for a fact that it is going to be a favourite.

It’s time to stop thinking about the difference between sweet and savoury spices. Many cooks around the world don’t make such a distinction.

In Greece and Turkey, for example, tomato sauce comes spiked with cinnamon, and in Mexico, fruit salad is sprinkled with cayenne pepper. In both cases, the spice is subtle but adds just enough contrast to make each bite more interesting.

We kept that in mind while searching for an easy way to enliven a simple summer berry compote. In this recipe from our book “COOKish,” which limits recipes to just six ingredients without sacrificing flavour, we tried black pepper and chilli powder, a blend that can include not only spicy cayenne but also cumin, garlic and onion powder. The combination of sweet strawberries and savoury spices was a hit, the perfect topping for vanilla ice cream or yoghurt.

A single teaspoon sufficed for a pound of sweet strawberries, half of which we cooked with a relatively small amount of sugar and lime zest. We lightly mashed the cooked berries and poured them over fresh ones, which softened with the compote’s heat.

Substituting garam masala, an Indian spice blend that includes warming spices like cinnamon and clove but also black pepper, mustard and coriander, was just as good with the citrus zest and berries, though with a different flavour profile.

Citrus and Spice Strawberry Compote
Start to finish: 20 minutes
Servings: 4 to 6

  • 1 pound strawberries, hulled and quartered
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar, divided
  • Grated zest of 1 lime OR 1 lemon OR ½ medium orange
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder OR garam masala
  • ¼ teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
  • Pinch of kosher salt


  • In a medium bowl, toss two-thirds of the berries with 1 tablespoon of sugar and the zest; set aside.
  • In a small saucepan, toast the chili powder, stirring, until fragrant; add the remaining berries, the remaining 1 tablespoon sugar, the pepper, salt and ¼ cup water.
  • Simmer, stirring, for 5 minutes, then mash the berries to break them down. Cook, stirring, until jammy.
  • Immediately pour over the berries in the bowl and stir.
  • Let stand for 10 minutes.
  • Voila! you are done.

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