Sugar and Spice............and all Things Nice
I love cooking with herbs and spices, they are essential if you want to produce good tasting food from scratch.
Whether it’s strong tasting spicy food like curries and chillies or gentle sauces to compliment mild dishes such as fish or vegetables, herbs and spices are essential.
Fresh herbs are wonderful especially for garnishing but dried herbs are just as good to add flavour, and if you get the blend right will bring any dish to life.
If you experiment you will find there are certain flavours that are simply made for each other, I’ll give you a couple of examples;
Last night I was searching the fridge for something to have for dinner; I had some leftover basmati rice and a chicken leg. I decided to make a variation of my Romanian Stew so I thought just to make it different and to marry up with the basmati rice, I would use HOT paprika and sweeten it up a little with a couple of teaspoons of soft brown sugar.
I was amazed how wonderfully the hot sweet sauce went so well with the basmati rice.
The fennel and garlic sauce that I use with fish in the post Smoked River Cobbler in Fennel and Garlic Sauce is still one of my all time favourite meals, Fennel and garlic go so well together with a little dried parsley.
Cooking Indian and Thai food is a great way to experiment with herbs and spices, whether it be pastes or masala’s. My Thai Green Curry Paste is a particular favourite of mine; masala is a South Asian term for a mixture of spices and 2 very popular ones are garum and tandoori.
You can buy these readymade but it’s a far better taste experience if you make them yourself.
Here’s how I make them;
This will make around 250 Gm
60 Gm – Coriander Seeds
50 Gm – Cumin Seeds
40 Gm – Fennel Seeds
25 Gm Black Pepper Corns
15 Gm – Cloves
15 Gm – Brown Cardamoms
5 Gm – Ground Ginger
Put all the spices except the ground ginger into a wok or pan and dry fry on a medium heat stirring all the time. Keep stirring as they fry so that they don’t burn this is known as roasting, after a minute or so they should start to steam. When they steam it is the oils being released from the spices let them do this for a few seconds and then take them off the heat.
Let them go completely cold and then grind them to a powder with a pestle and mortar or spice grinder. Now mix in the ground ginger and you have a quality Garum Masala.
For 250 Gm you will need (all ground);
30 Gm – Cumin
40 Gm – Garlic Powder
40 Gm – Paprika
20 Gm – Ginger
20 Gm – Dried Mint
10 Gm Chilli Powder