6 March 2015

Spice up Mother's Day (and the rest of your life!)

I recently received in the post a very fragrant envelope from Spice Kitchen; a mother and son company specialising in spices, handmade spice mixes and spice accoutrements such as the masala dabba.  I used have one of these handy pieces of kit, you can blend your own spices in the lid!


The envelope they sent contained samples of 8 spice mixes which they are also offering in a wooden spice box as a great gift for Mother’ Day.


This being the case I wanted to write a review asap and, although I've had a couple of plays, I don’t have time to do them all justice and write a timely review.  Luckily I came up with a brainwave – seasoned salts. Making these means that I can give a fair taste to each spice mix (on toast, rice, beans, etc.) without taking too long.  It also means that as I have a more thorough experiment with each mix, and post about it, Spice Kitchen will get a bit more exposure.  Good idea or what?

Seasoned Salts

Actually all sorts of flavourings can be mixed with salt (see here for a fabulous idea!) but, whereas some ingredients might need to be chopped or dried or cooked, in this case you just add a little spice to crunchy sea salt.


Whilst mixing the salts I tasted a tiny bit of each spice on my tongue (which made it nice and warm, good for early March). They were all distinctively different and the jerk seasoning with which I am very familiar made me homesick for the islands.

From the top ...

Garam Masala ~ the taste we think of as curry, warm but not hot, I used a little to make ...

Alu ki Tikki – at least that’s what I’m calling it! 

I am very prone to making potato cakes with leftover mash and these are some of the best.

500g (possibly leftover) mashed potato
1 small onion – finely chopped
a handful of chopped fresh cilantro – if possible
1 small hot chili – seeded and finely chopped
1 tsp garam masala

~   Mix all the ingredients together.
~   Season to taste – adding more garam masala if you like!
~   Form into about 8 cakes, flatten and fry in shallow oil till crisp.

Sometimes these are dipped in egg and then flour before frying but I always coat mine in panko crumbs because I love them. A bit of fusion!


Ras el Hanout ~ this is a Moroccan spice blend, the name translates as head or top of the shop and it is held in high regard. Each spice mixer has their own list of ingredients and I have heard some Ras el Hanouts containing hashish and Spanish fly, but not this one which contains cloves, mace, star anise, cayenne pepper, allspice, cardamom, black peppercorns, sugar, cinnamon, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, ginger, nutmeg. paprika, salt and turmeric.

Chinese Spice ~ the star anise, liquorice and orange peel are highlights in this mix which also contains cassia, Szechuan peppers, black cardamom and cloves. I have a mind to try this first in some kind of stir fry, maybe with shrimp.

Jerk Seasoning ~ very evocative, as I said, of the Caribbean.  Jerk seasoning is primarily used on chicken (aka yard runner!) and pork and often sold from roadside stalls that make you drool as you walk past.  The sugar, allspice and thyme make this taste authentic.

When I worked as a chef in the islands I used to serve Jerk Burgers for Sunday Brunch simply by adding some jerk seasoning to the mix and then brushing with a tamarind glaze just before serving. 

Mexican Spice Blend ~ contains cornflour (which surprised me!), cumin seeds, paprika, oregano, chilli powder, garlic powder, salt, sugar, onion powder and cayenne pepper. I shall be trying this next time I make some kind of chilli (con or non carne) but today sprinkled some of the seasoned salt on the roasted tomatoes I had for lunch and they did have a certain South American nuance!


Sri Lankan Curry Powder ~ loads of things in this one; basmati rice, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, fennel seeds, cassia bark, fenugreek seeds, cloves, cardamom, mustard seeds, black peppercorns, kashmiri chilli & turmeric. 

With a teaspoon of it I made a tiny portion of Toasted Curry Oil which is a great drizzle for fish, chicken or soup!

Toasted Curry Oil

Heat a dry pan to hot then add 1 tbsp of the spice mix and stir over low heat till it is very fragrant – this doesn't take long, 90 seconds or so! Add 100ml of olive and stir over the low heat for a minute or two. Set aside for 2 hours to infuse and then strain through cheesecloth.


Panch Poran – this is a mildly spicy Bengali mix  containing cumin seeds, mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds, nigella seeds and fennel seeds and I have plans to try it in a sweet potato and mango curry – I’ll get back to you!

Baharat ~ literally "spices" from the Middle East this has cloves, black pepper, cumin seeds, nutmeg, paprika, cardamom & cinnamon and again I have plans, this time involving aubergine but first have to catch one!

So head on over to Spice Kitchen and have yourself a browse, lots of interesting stuff including a recipe for Khaman Dhokla – a kind of curry cake!

In Other News ...

I used Maldon Sea Salt to make the seasoned salts above but my brother in law James Weaver uses it in an entirely different manner.  He is an artist and lives near Maldon. He uses their salt to do something arty with  his pictures - I think he scratches the surface of watercolours with the salt to add texture. See his tasty work here.





Pin It!

No comments: