On The Spice Route
Bring world cuisine to your table with these exotic spice blends.
Where would Indian cuisine be without its spices? Spices don’t just impart heat but also add those punchy flavours that essentially differentiate Indian food from the Western world. Many of our neighbours in the ‘oriental’ world employ all sorts of spices as well, from the Saudi Baharat to the Egyptian Dukkah, and even the Japanese Togarashi. So skip that garam masala once in a while and try these exciting spice blends to amp up your daily meals.
Ras el Hanout
Ras el Hanout is the North African equivalent of our very own garam masala. The name literally translates into ‘head of the shop’, or what may more commonly be referred to as ‘top-shelf’ – a spice mix made from the best spices available. The mix contains a combination of a dozen spices, though the exact spices and their proportions vary widely, not just in people’s homes but also across shops and spice companies. Usually spices such as cumin, clove, cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, peppercorns, fenugreek and coriander seeds etc. go into the mix. Rub some Ras el Hanout on meat or fish before grilling, or stir it into cous cous or rice for authentic Moroccan flavours.
Dukkah is an Egyptian condiment made with spices, herbs and nuts. Hazelnut is the most commonly used nut, which is pounded along with sesame seeds, coriander and cumin. Herbs such as mint or thyme may also be added. Dukkah makes a warm, aromatic dip with bread and olive oil. Sprinkle it on roasted vegetables, or on fresh fruits, and even on pasta for that added texture and nuttiness. It can also be used as a crust for grilled meats and even tofu.
Recipe: Quinoa Pumpkin Salad
Japanese cuisine is not particularly spice heavy, but the shichimi togarashi is an exception to the largely subtle flavours we associate with the land sushi, sashimi and the like. Shichimi is a Japanese spice mixture, which contains seven ingredients – red chilli pepper, sansho (Japanese pepper), roasted orange peel, sesame seeds, hemp seeds, ground ginger, and nori (seaweed). Use this mix to add heat and umami to soups, hot pots, udon noodles, or tempura. You can also sprinkle some on steamed veggies or rice, and even on your avocado toast!
Recipe: Poke Bowl
Baharat is a Middle Eastern allspice mixture, which contains black pepper, cumin, cinnamon, and cloves, along with some cassia, nutmeg and paprika. The ingredients and proportions vary across regions. Baharat gives a smoky and mildly sweet flavour, and a pinch of it can add a delicious depth to your soups, lentils, and rice preparations. Try mixing some baharat with olive oil and use it as a vegetable marinade, or dry rub it on fish, poultry or meat.
Another Middle Eastern condiment worth exploring is za’atar, which is a blend of thyme, sesame seeds and sumac (a sour dried fruit of a shrub). Use this fragrant, tangy condiment to flavour your red meats, fish, and poultry. Or sprinkle it on some plain flatbread or on grilled vegetables. Add a dash of it to hummus, baba ghanoush or tzatziki for that unusual flavour kick.
Recipe: Grilled Vegetables
Visit any of our stores to shop all these spices and more at our very own spice station – Arqa.