My spice cupboard overflows with packets of seeds and pieces of bark, dried flowers and powders of every colour of nature. My spice cupboard overflows with the seasonings of all my meals, and the flavours that keep me healthy. I don’t need fat and sugar to flavour my meals anymore, only the herbs and spices in my cupboard, and at current count there are over 50 different herbs and spices awaiting my every whim.
I have yellow and black mustard seeds as well as mustard powder, and don’t forget the Dijon and wholegrain mustards also sitting in the fridge. I have powdered cinnamon as well as cinnamon quills, and cinnamon also resides in half the spice mixes I have in the cupboard too.
I have whole cardamom and powdered as well as whole and powdered cloves which are staples for the Middle Eastern meals I make. I have imitation saffron (on a budget unfortunately) as well as turmeric and curry powder, all of which will turn my meals a lovely yellow tinge for extra colour and excitement.
I’ve got the good old English varieties of herbs as well, with bottles of rosemary and thyme, parsley and bay leaves cluttering up the cupboard. There’s also basil and mint, and tarragon and marjoram. Oh, and there’s sage too. Oregano’s a favourite and I always pair that with paprika, which has to be my most used spice as it seems like the paprika jar is bottomless as I buy it so regularly.
I’ve spice mixes to make dinners easy such as Garam Masala for the Indian influenced meals and Shawarma for the Middle Eastern chicken dishes. I loved the Egyptian fish spices mix but alas its out and I’ve had trouble finding more. Why didn’t they label the packet correctly? I can’t even recreate the mix again! Speaking of recreations, I’ve got my own taco or Mexican seasoning mix and I’ve even made my own curry powder when I ran out recently. It’s really quite easy to do – just Google!
I’ve tried a few of the more unusual and I’m afraid to say ‘what-the-hell-do-i-do-with’ spices such as fenugreek and sumac. Then there was the time I tried dried lemons for a recipe and I’m not even certain I like the flavour of these things, but I’m stuck with them now. Don’t get them confused with preserved lemons as they are lovely to use and easy to finely dice and add to the polenta crumbed fish I make. Not sure exactly what I’ll do with fennel powder and poppy seeds and sesame seeds, but they’re there for when I figure that out.
But I love the Za’ater mix! I’ll sprinkle it on labneh and spread it on toast, or make it into my own foccacia and flatbreads. I think I even made my own breadsticks with it. And my husband persuaded me to add it to his most recent spaghetti sauce, so it’s a very versatile and tasty mix. But if you want a spicier mix, try the Raj al Hanout (pronounced han-oot). Apparently it’s a secret recipe and no one will tell you exactly what’s in their variety because of the cloak and dagger associated with it. Be careful though, cause a little goes a long way.
I abhore garlic but alas it’s in the fridge in one of those little minced jars. I see the value in some recipes and that’s what it’s for, despite the fact it’s usually used sparingly in my household. And I don’t like the taste of cilantro or as we call it coriander, so that’s why I don’t use the fresh and substitute with the powdered instead. It makes a meal flavourful without being overbearing and turning me off. Thank goodness for the various forms we can get our herbs and spices in these days!
Cumin and fennel seeds are new for me, but I’m finding them to be versatile and if need be I can crush them when I need the powdered version instead. Cumin powder is an essential ingredient in my kitchen, bought in much larger bags than the other spices, and used for meat, chicken and fish as well as vegetables and pulses. Hmm, better get some more tomorrow as its running low again. I’m sure I just bought that one last week…
Ah, be careful! Don’t grate your fingers on the whole nutmegs I bought to try to experience freshness. And don’t use too many of those dried chilli flakes because they’ll light your tongue on fire. Careful of the powdered or minced ginger too cause it’s got quite a kick and I’m too full to get you heath care tonight.
Thanks for a lovely meal.
See you back here again soon.