Introducing some of our favourite herb and spice mixes for perfectly seasoning the summer season.
At Maws we stock a truly comprehensive array of over 150 different dried herbs and spices cultivated and collected from every corner of the globe, not to mention classic blends, from Herbs du Provence to Garam Masala.
As we mentioned in our previous blog, pre-making your favourite spice mixes is great way to save precious time in a commercial kitchen, and we’d like to share some more unusual blends from around the culinary world, all of which we’re convinced will become ‘go-to’ summertime staples whether you’re grilling or stewing, marinating or barbecuing.
Ras el Hanout
If you love North African cuisine but are tired of staple spice blends such as harissa then you need to add some Ras el Hanout to your spice rack right now.
The name in Arabic means ‘head of the shop,’ and literally refers to the best spices the store has to offer. You’ll find Ras el Hanout prevalent throughout North African cooking, but it’s particularly popular in Morocco, a country famous for its spice markets.
Although there are numerous variations, secret blends and jealously guarded family recipes for of Ras el Hanout, the mixture typically contains equal measures of:
• Black Peppercorns
Ras el Hanout is not a piquant or fiery spice blend (like harissa), but instead imbues dishes with subtle yet pungent warmth – the cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg also adding low, sweet accents. It’s ideal for using as a dry rub or as part of a wet marinade, and comes into its own when added to tajines. You can even just mix it with sour cream to create an instantly addictive dip.
Also often referred to as Bengali Five Spice, Panch Phoron is an essential spice mix from the eastern India that seems to have been historically overlooked by the West in favour of the ubiquitous garam masala.
In India however Panch Phoron has been used for centuries to transform everything from soups and dal to pickled vegetables. This five spice mix adds a tremendous bittersweet anise-tinged flavour to traditional Bengali, Nepali and Bangladeshi dishes, and a whole lot more besides.
Panch Phoron is a straightforward blend containing equal amounts of:
• Cumin seeds
• Fennel seed
• Fenugreek seeds
• Black Mustard seeds
• Nigella seeds
Better yet it couldn’t be easier to make, as none of the spices are actually even ground together but rather just mixed while left whole. This is because Panch Phoron releases its flavours and aroma using a technique called tempering, in which the seeds are traditionally fried in mustard oil or ghee until they begin to pop. When using in pickles, simply fry beforehand in a dry pan.
A favourite from the Iberian Peninsula, variations of this rub remain hugely popular in all regions of the world once colonised by Spain, from Latin America and the Caribbean all the way to the Philippines.
In the days before refrigeration, this salty seasoning was first used mixed with vinegar or wine as a method for preserving meat. In fact, the name comes from the Spanish word adobar, which literally means ‘to marinate’, and the mix is still added to olive oil, lime juice, sour orange juice or vinegar, often with the addition of chopped onion, to create a delicious range of marinades.
Aside from regional variations, Adobo Seco can essentially be made in any quantity by mixing together the following ingredients in the ratios stated below:
1 tablespoon • Black Pepper • Turmeric • Onion Powder
2 tablespoons • Dried Oregano
3 tablespoons • Salt • Garlic Granules
Aside from working as delicious dry rub or marinade that’s particularly good with chicken, pork and fish, Adobo Seco is a truly versatile seasoning that’s also adds a tangy depth to soups, stocks and stews and even can even spice up a bland bowl of plain boiled rice.
Get in the mix!
All the herbs and spices used in the blends above can be sourced and ordered from Maws Fine Foods by visiting http://maws.globaltestsites.co.uk/category/Ingredients/Herbs+&+Spices?id=42