Monday, September 18, 2006

Spice is nice

For the past three or four days I've been craving some food with a Middle Eastern flair. I just started reading the book, The Language of Baklava by Diana Abu-Jaber. The book is a memoir of Diana's life growing up with her Jordanian father and American mother and who the two worlds collide and the food influences on both lives. I'm about 100 pages in and am really enjoying the book. But it's really about food and the memories that come with it.

So tonight I decided to have a go at it. I've made kebabs before, never really anything worth writing home about. And tonight was no different. They came prepared from Whole Foods...all I did was fry them up on the grill pan. I served with some rice, which I loosely based this recipe on from the book. (Rice with pine nuts and some cinnamon).

What I really want to share with you all is the homemade spice blend that I made, from this website.

Baharat (sometimes known as Middle Eastern Seven Spices)
makes about 1 cup

1/4 cup whole black peppercorns
1/8 cup whole coriander seeds
1/8 cup whole cloves
1/4 cup cumin seeds
1/8 cup cinnamon bark
1/4 cup paprika
1 tsp cardamon seeds (not pods, the little seeds inside the pods)
2 whole nutmeg, grated

1) Toast the first four spices in a dry pan, over medium heat, until they become warm and fragrant.

2) Add spices into your spice grinder. Add the cinnamon and cardamon seeds. Whiz until fine.

3) Add the paprika and grated nutmeg. Whiz together. Done.

Store in a airtight container for a few months.

Tonight I sprinkled some on my kebabs and on top of the rice. When the spice mix hits anything warm, the cinnamon is the first aroma to rise up, followed by the cumin and clove. It's really an amazing scent and I can't wait to use it more and more. The kebabs were marinated from the store, so I didn't use as much as I would have liked, but I did sprinkle some on towards the end of the cooking.


Dancer in DC said...

You can imagine how great the apartment smelled as this was cooking!

Stef said...

This looks deelish! I'm really looking forward to starting the book -- I hope we pick a good place to meet!

Chilefire said...

Wow Scott, I can almost smell that spice from here. I learned a neat trick for toasting pine nuts last week - Microwave them! a quarter cup takes two minutes, just stop the cooking halfway through and mix up the nuts a bit with a spoon and fire off the second two minutes. I can't tell you how many times I have burned pine nuts on the stove trying to toast them. This trick works spot on.