It's easy to get tired of the basic recipes and classics you make time and time again. Mix things up by trying a new recipe with an exciting and exotic blend of spices. Incorporating new flavors is a simple, inexpensive way to jazz up simple meals. Below are some ideas for interesting spice combinations and recipes where you can utilize them to kick your classics up a notch.
1. Somalian rice
You may be used to making typical rice side dishes: white rice, brown rice, or even rice pilaf. Try a Somalian rice: start by steaming basmati rice, a long-grained rice, and stir in cumin, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon and sage. Remove the whole cloves and cinnamon sticks before serving, and plate this delicious and aromatic rice alongside grilled chicken or broiled salmon for a flavorful side dish hailing from Somalia.
2. Palaver stew
This traditional West African stew would make an ideal winter supper, hearty and flavorful. Made with beef and smoked pork, along with bitter greens, the flavoring is supplied by onion, garlic, tomatoes, ginger root, and ground red pepper, all cooked into the base of the stew.
3. Suya kebab
When the weather is warmer, open up the grill to make suya kebabs, which hail from West Africa, especially Cameroon, Nigeria and Niger. Thinly sliced skewered beef is seasoned with oil, salt, and peanuts, and then grilled on the barbecue. Serve these kebabs alongside dried peppers and onions for heat and depth of flavor.
4. Draw soup
A perfect lunch or appetizer, draw soup is has delicate and unusual seasoning. It's popular in the southern part of Nigeria, and is made from okra, pumpkin seeds, and jute, an herb that grows in Africa and Asia.
Berbere is a classic spice mix used in the cuisines of Ethiopia and Eritrea. It typically combines red chili peppers, garlic, ginger, basil, Ethiopian cardamom, rue (a flowering herb), Ajowan caraway, black cumin, and fenugreek. Blend and store in a jar so you can use your berbere mix in a variety of dishes, including American favorites: spread it over baby back ribs as a dry rub, stir it into ground beef for hard shell tacos, or sprinkle into chicken noodle soup for a spicy flair.
Don't forget dessert: incorporate African spices into sweets as well. Himbasha is a bread served at celebrations in Ethiopia, with a flat shaped and indentations to evoke the shape of a wheel. Himbasha incorporates ground cardamom for a smoky-sweet flavor and some versions also include candied ginger or raisins for added sweetness.
7. Kachumbari salad
For a light, refreshing salad bursting with the flavors of Africa, try kachumbari, typically made in the Great Lakes region in countries like Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania and Burundi. The base is made of tomatoes and onions, but the great flavor comes from spices like chili pepper, parsley, and cilantro.
Try cooking chicken yassa for a delicious weeknight dinner from Senegal. Marinate chicken with lemons and onion, then incorporate an array of spices including oil, bay leaf, parsley, green olives, black pepper, green and red bell pepper, and mustard seed. This mix of flavors will cook into the chicken and create a deep, unique spice served best with rice or couscous.
This guest post contribution was made by Spice Madam, a “growing” company in Texas that has spices delivered to your door as a subscription service. SM also has an easy to carry spice travel pack for the adventurous!
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