You are what you eat & drink

Posts tagged “spices



Crispy Cajun Salmon


I confess, the ingredient list looks like a real clash of cultures but this is the crispiest batter and the salmon holds the Cajun spice flavour so well, it is a delicious treat.

Traditionally catfish would be used with this recipe but it works well with snapper too.

My Cajun spice rub recipe is in the blog or use your preferred mix.

Serves 6 with side dishes.

You want the recipe? Check Cooking up the Pantry

Hand Picked in Zanzibar

Zanzibar’s clove harvest

The archipelago of Zanzibar in Tanzania, sometimes known as the Spice Islands, was once the world’s largest producer of cloves. It is still an important industry for farmers on the island of Pemba as the BBC’s Ruth Nesoba found out during the harvesting of the flower buds which when dried are used as a spice in cooking, to flavour drinks like mulled wine and in medicine.

The picked flower buds and leaves are carried in a gunny sack from the farmers’ land to the villages. The crop is then sorted to separate the leaves from the buds. Both are left to dry in the sun. The dried leaves are crushed and can be used in perfumes and fragrances. They are also used in an oil which can have sanitary applications and is sometimes used in dentistry.

Source: BBCNews Read and see the photo story

Mustard Seeds


Black, Brown (not shown) and White Mustard seeds

How to cook with mustard seeds

Vivek Singh, the Cinnamon Club exexutive chef, works his magic with this unsung spice hero

King Prawns baked with mustard and coconut: the fried black mustard seeds elevate the flavour of the yellow mustard sauce. Photograph: Jill Mead for the Guardian

Black mustard seeds are extremely versatile, and one of the few spices that are commonly used across all regions of India. They really are an unsung hero: widely used, but sadly not often understood. In a lot of Indian dishes they are used as more of a seasoning than a base flavour – they really perk up a lentil or rice dish when fried in a little oil with curry leaves (a match made in heaven). For that reason, mustard seeds are great for healthy eating, when you want to add flavour without adding fat.

In the eastern regions of India, mustard seeds are often paired with fish, a classic combination in Bengali celebratory dishes; in the west of the country, they are used to perk up yoghurt and rice, as well as Gujarati coconut curries. In Rajasthan they provide more of a base flavour for curries. Similarly, in Kashmir and Punjab, lamb is often cooked in mustard oil. Around Hyderabad, Chennai and Madras, they are key to rich, hot curries. As for the south – if there were 1,000 dosa, sambar or lentil recipes, I’d say that mustard seeds feature in 999 of them.

Try frying them in a little oil with a handful of curry leaves, then fold through yoghurt to serve with meats and curries, or stir through rice to add texture and flavour. You can also use them to grow your own mustard cress – just soak them in water overnight, drain, then spread between damp kitchen cloths and leave in a warm place. The seeds will have sprouted within three days, and can be used in salads or as a garnish.

King prawns baked with mustard and coconut

The pungency of a yellow mustard sauce is elevated in flavour and texture by adding fried black mustard seeds.

Serves 4
250ml thick coconut milk
100ml Greek yoghurt
75g yellow mustard seeds (soaked overnight, blended to a paste with 25ml white vinegar)
6 green chillies, slit lengthways
4cm piece ginger, finely sliced
2 tsp salt
1½ tsp sugar
5 garlic cloves, minced
8 large prawns, slit in half, head and shell on, cleaned and dried on a kitchen towel
75ml mustard oil
1 tsp black mustard seeds
50g coriander, finely chopped
1 tsp garam masala

1 Heat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4. Whisk together everything except the prawns, mustard oil, mustard seeds, coriander and garam masala.

2 Heat the mustard oil in a pan to smoking point and let it cool. Reheat the oil and add the mustard seeds. Once the seeds crackle, add the spice mix and bring to the boil, whisking regularly, taking care not to split the mix. Once it has boiled, reduce the heat and simmer for 2-3 minutes.

3 Arrange the prawns on a tray, shell-side down. Pour the sauce over the tails, cover with foil then cook for 18 minutes. Sprinkle with coriander and garam masala, then serve with rice.

Three more ways to use black mustard seeds

• Mung bean and apple salad Mix 100g green mung bean sprouts with 100g soaked split yellow mung beans, 3 diced green apples, salt and lemon juice. Fry 1 tsp mustard seeds with curry leaves in 1 tbsp oil, then stir through the salad.
• Yoghurt rice Mix 100g Greek yoghurt with 70g cooked rice, 1 chopped chilli, 1 tsp fresh ginger, 2 tbsp chopped coriander and a pinch of salt and sugar. Heat 1 tbsp veg oil and add ½ tsp mustard seeds, curry leaves and asafoetida. Add to the rice with a little milk.
• Red lentils Boil 175g red lentils with salt and turmeric for 30 mins. Heat 2 tbsp veg oil, add 1 chopped red chilli, 1 tbsp mustard seeds and 10 curry leaves. Fry till crackling. Add 2 chopped garlic cloves. Fry till golden. Tip into the lentils with some chopped coriander.




Love To Hate Cilantro?

It’s In Your Genes And Maybe, In Your Head

The very sight of this lacy, green herb can cause some people to scream. The great cilantro debate heats up as scientists start pinpointing cilantrophobe genes.

There’s no question that cilantro is a polarizing herb. Some of us heap it onto salsas and soups with gusto while others avoid cilantro because it smells like soap and tastes like crushed bugs.

Some people despise the lacy green herb so much that there’s even an I Hate Cilantro website. There, cilantrophobes post haikus expressing their passionate anger and disgust at the leafy green: “Such acrid debris! This passes as seasoning? Socrates’ hemlock!” writes user Dubhloaich.

But what separates the cilantro lovers from the haters? Is it hard-wired in our genes, as Harold McGee suggested a few years ago in the New York Times, or can we learn to enjoy cilantro if we associate its flavor with fresh fish tacos or bowls of spicy pho? It’s probably not so simple.

Two studies published this week link the aversion for cilantro with specific genes involved in taste and smell. But, just like the flavors of the herb itself, the findings are nuanced: The genes appear to influence our opinion of cilantro but probably not as much as we initially thought.

Geneticists at 23andMe in California asked about 25,000 people whether they like cilantro or think it smells soapy. When they searched the people’s DNA for regions that correlate with a distaste for the herb, a single spot jumped out. And, it sits right next to a cluster of odor-detecting genes, including one that is known to specifically recognize the soapy aromas in cilantro’s bouquet. (They’ll analyze your genome, too, for $299.)

Source: npr the Salt Read more


Such pretty little flowers

Well, I had no idea. I love cilantro.

I know the herb and spice as coriander, it appears that Americans have taken to speaking more Spanish than they think calling it cilantro.

Coriander (Coriandrum sativum), also known as cilantro, Chinese parsley, coentro or dhania.

All parts of the plant can be used, leaves, roots and seeds.

Coriander, like many spices, contains antioxidants, which can delay or prevent the spoilage of food seasoned with this spice. It has been used as a folk medicine for the relief of anxiety and insomnia in Iran and a diuretic in India when mixed with cumin. Coriander has also been documented as a traditional treatment for diabetes. A study on mice found coriander extract had both insulin-releasing and insulin-like activity. – Wikipedia