Yesterday I blogged about an Apricot-chocolate chip loaf, a rich baked quick bread. Today, there’s an Arabic spice mix from the other end of the spectrum to give your dishes an international flavour.
When my parents went to the US a few months ago on a holiday, I shamelessly gave them a looooongish list of stuff to buy for me. No fancy trinkets, cosmetics or Apple products, mind you. The list contained loads of foody things one wouldn’t find easily in India. Right from Dutch-processed cocoa, Ghirardelli chocolate chips to medium-sized Bundt pans and Allspice!
I’ve seen such a lot of recipes in blogosphere with this ingredient called Allspice, mostly baked goodies, and I was really looking forward to trying this thing out. But once in my hand, I was really at a loss to locate suitable recipes to try with it. Pumpkin pie, which uses allspice pretty commonly, really doesn’t catch my fancy. Pumpkin pie lovers out there, sorry! But pumpkin in a pie??? Seriously??? Not for me for sure! And I really do love Apple and cinnamon to try replacing cinnamon for allspice in apple-based bakes. Someday, maybe. Or, may not be.
And so I was in the midst of an allspice dilemma when I chanced upon an article in the Sunday supplement of a newspaper about an Arabic spice called Baharat. The article talked about how Baharat was an all-purpose sort of spice in Arabic cuisine and used quite commonly across the middle-east and northern Africa. The ingredients were quite similar to what would go into our own Garam Masala, except for quite some doze of nutmeg and, hold your breath, allspice!
And that’s how I ran straight into my kitchen, it being a lazy Sunday afternoon (yes; that does happen sometime, even to the mom of a 16-month-old hyperactive boy!) to get this done right away! No thought of what I’d use it for even came to my mind. It halved the proportions given, as I normally do with any recipe I’m attempting for the first time. It got done in less than 15 minutes and did smell divine. I looked up Google for recipes to use this in.
In a marinade for grilled chicken, ideal for kebabs, mutton biryani (yes!)…ummm . Ok. But nothing vegetarian??!! And then I started breaking my head over how to use this up! Anyway, necessity is the mother of all invention, and rightly said! A few days later, I was preparing some gravy dish and realised I’d run out of garam masala. On a whim I added Baharat in its place. The dish turned out wonderful. I wouldn’t say the taste differed greatly than when I use garam masala, but there sure was a subtle unmistakable new flavour in there that everyone relished.
Incidentally, there are many versions of this spice mix as one traverses across the middle-east, with some including saffron, rose petals and even mint. This is a basic version. And interestingly, it has eight ingredients even though it is referred to as a 7-spice mix!
Black peppercorns – 2 tbsp
Coriander seeds – 2tbsp
Cumin seeds – 2 tbsp
Allspice – 1 tbsp
Cardamom seeds – 1 tsp
Whole cloves – ½ tsp
Cinnamon sticks – 4 x 3-inch sticks
Sweet paprika – 2 tbsp (I used regular Kashmiri chilli powder). Grated nutmeg – 1 tsp
Grind all whole spices using a mortar and pestle, if possible
Add paprika and nutmeg and mix well
Store in an airtight container
- While I and-pounded everything with a mortar and pestle, I found it difficult to powder the coriander seeds and cinnamon that way. So I ground them in a mixer-grinder and added to the rest
- Upon Googling, I also found that the spices are normally dry roasted first to bring out the flavours, just the way it is with garam masala
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Recipes by other bloggers starting with B is here