Tag Archives: spice kitchen uk

What does ‘spicy’ mean to you…?

This weekend I spent Saturday at the BBC Good Food Show manning the stand of my lovely friend Sanjay (Sanjay and I bottom right, above) and his even lovelier business Spice Kitchen UK, along with Sanjay himself and his lovely Mum, aka Mamma Spice…

Above: Sanjay and his Mum, and examples of their beautiful spice tins covered with beautiful wraps made from saris, handmade by Mamma Spice.

What a great way to spend a day, surrounded by such beautiful products, supporting lovely people and talking about spices. It made me realise just how much I know about spices, and food history, and ways to use spices, and the various spice mixes, it was a revelation to myself if no one else!

It also made me realise that the people I was talking to seemed to fall into 3 groups:

Those who love spices, and are comfortable and confident using them, and loved finding spices available of such great quality;

Those who are venturing into the world of spice and would like to learn how to use spices more in their cooking*;

And those who totally disregard spices and tell you that ‘they don’t like spicy food’.

And it’s this word ‘spicy’ that made me want to write this post.

When I talked more to this group of people, if they stopped long enough to chat, what I discovered is that most of them viewed ‘spicy’ food as hot, as in chilli hot. They’re experience has often only been hot curry and they haven’t been impressed and have therefore written off ‘spicy’ food as a result.

To me, food cooked with spices is full of flavour and aroma and warmth and layers. The decision to add chilli remains with the cook, although using spices is not a prerequisite for including chilli. I often use collections of slices in dishes where no chilli is included.

One lady told me specifically, and quite disdainfully, that she didn’t like spicy food and didn’t use spices, but her son did and she bought him a spice tin as a gift. Before she walked away, I couldn’t help myself and asked her if she makes Christmas cake; she answered that she does. So I asked if she puts spices in it; and she answered that she does, listing cinnamon, nutmeg, etc. And so, I said….you DO cook with spices 🙂

So, what does spicy food mean to you? Is it a description that has become synonymous with chilli hot food? Is a better description for food full of flavour developed from spices, but not chilli, ‘spiced’ food? What do you think?

*By the way, to those people who want to know more about cooking with spices, I highly suggest that you take time to read recipes and see how cooks and chefs put spices together. I would cook exactly to recipes for a while whilst building your confidence, then start ditching the measuring spoon and going with your gut. And remember that there is no right or wrong here, just degrees of flavour.

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My breakfast chai spice mix…

I realised recently that I don’t ever eat a meal that doesn’t have spices in it; whether it’s a full of cacophony of spices, or merely a sprinkle of roasted cumin or sumac, spices are a big part of my world. And it’s not just in my food, I start each day with turmeric capsules and a cayenne pepper capsule…I think if you cooked me I’d be pretty tasty!!! 

Let’s move on from that horrible idea…to my breakfast…

I cannot bring you a picturesque shot of my breakfast because I am far too happily eating it in the mornings to spend time pimping and preening the bowl for a perfect photo; I did consider making two lots one morning just to have one to make pretty, but who needs all that? This is a bowl for eating, not looks. 

This is my chai spiced banana porridge. And I love it!!! 

I eat this every morning, because I love it so much, it’s full of goodness, and if I even think about having something else, I already start missing my lovely porridge. I will tell you how I make it, but what I really want to share is my spice mix…

Which also isn’t pretty to look at really, but the taste and smell is beautiful! 

I was recently sent some chai spices and tea to try from my lovely friends at Spice Kitchen UK and this is what inspired my breakfast spices. I made the tea and spice infused milky drink as directed, but I was far more interested in trying the chai spices minus the tea…so I put some in my porridge. 

It worked really well except for the fact that the spice mix was created for making tea and being strained and therefore, the spices don’t need to be finely ground, consequently, I was biting into peppercorns and cardamoms which wasn’t so good, but the overall effect was fab. So I decided to make my own version..

Chai spice is made up of the spices that you would associate with Christmas: the beautiful cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and ginger take you right into December. Add in the cardamom and black pepper and it becomes the wonderful chai creation of India. For my breakfast mix, I left out the pepper and increased the proportion of cinnamon, but you could of course amend it to your tastes..

Based on ground spices I mix:

4 tbsp cinnamon

2 tbsp ginger

1 tbsp cardamom

1 tbsp cloves

1/2 tbsp nutmeg

Mix together well and store in an airtight jar. 

To make my breakfast, I soak my oats overnight in water with a huge heaped teaspoonful of the spice mix, then add mashed banana in the morning before heating it all. And then I take time to eat it and savour it and love it…and then I start looking forward to the next morning when I can eat it all again! 

The aroma on its own is enough to make you smile! 

I’m sure this spice mix would work perfectly in cakes and muffins and drinks, it makes me remember Selma’s wonderful award winning chai spiced banana bread 🙂 

I hope you’re having a great start to the week xx

Making your recipes..

You know I love to make lots of your recipes, I don’t believe in just commenting and then forgetting all about it, I love to go back and make as many as I can..there’s so many fantastic dishes in all of your blogs, it’s impossible NOT to be inspired! 

So this month I’ve made a few different things inspired by you all, including these.. 

This dish was something completely new and completely fabulous! This is ‘kadhi’ a yoghurt curry, it made with yogurt, chickpea flour and spices (including lots of kick ass turmeric! Great for the cold season) and creates a lovely sauce. In Whitney’s recipe she serves it with potato pakoras, I ate mine with roasted chunks of aubergine. It was great day one, and even better the next day!

Check it out: PUNJABI KADHI | YOGURT CURRY WITH POTATO PAKORA
 This is an Indian dish, made with mung beans, or green gram; for some reason my dish above looks a bit dry but I promise it wasn’t, and it was really tasty. The recipe is from Anjana: GREEN GRAM CURRY {KERALA CHERUPAYAR CURRY}. The Mung beans are really tasty and really easy to cook, I highly recommended trying them. 

This bread is an Algerian bread called ‘khobz tajine’. It is a bread made of fine semolina, yeast and nigella seeds, and cooked in a pan over a medium heat of the hob/stove. It’s a recipe from the lovely Linda from La Petite Paniere, a lovely lady and amazing cook. You really have to check out the wonderful food she makes, especially the pastries and breads! 

Serious food porn! 

I’ve wanted to make ‘pav bhaji’ (pronounced pao bhaji) for a while having seen recipes from many food blogs, including Sonal and Anjana, and my version above was an amalgamation of them all. 

Pav bhaji is Indian street food, and the spiced mashed vegetable curry is typically made with lots of butter, and eaten with sweet bread rolls. I made mine with lots of coconut oil instead of the butter, I used a mixture of cauliflower, white potatoes, sweet potatoes and peas, and ate it with the lovely Algerian bread above.   And doesn’t it all look gorgeous on my new hand thrown crockery from the wonderful Sytch Farm Studios. I am so in love with Gill’s work, she’s an amazing potter, and I am honoured to have some of her pieces in my home. 

I hope I’ve provided you with some lovely inspiration! Have a great week 🙂 

My butternut squash vegetable bhaji..

 I do love a bowl of beautifully spiced gorgeous vegetables, and recently I’ve become more and more adept at throwing together my own dishes based on all of the Indian recipes that I’ve made and read and eaten, so this was one of my recent creations..having been overwhelmed and a bit scared of recipes with great long lists of spices in the past, I now find that I absolutely relish them; I just love knowing that I’m adding so much flavour and goodness, and I love knowing what I’m doing! 

Before I start cooking, I open my spice racks and get out everything I need or fancy adding, and then I collect all of the other ingredients I propose to use and have them all on the counter ready to go. That way there’s no darting around the kitchen grabbing stuff as I go along. I’ve learnt the hard way with that one! 

So, here is my spiced butternut squash, which I ate on its own, with quinoa and even on a slice of sourdough!  

  My recipe..

Ingredients

1 large butternut squash, peeled and chopped into chunks

2 medium tomatoes, chopped 

2 red onions, peeled and chopped

6 shallots, peeled and chopped

5 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped

1 tsp turmeric

1 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground ginger

2 tsp garam masala

2 tsp nigella seeds

2 tsp brown mustard seeds

4 brown cardamom pods

A few curry leaves 

2 tbsp coconut oil 

Note: feel free to use all red onion or all shallots; use your choice of oil; add some chilli powder or cayenne pepper if you like some additional heat. 

   
Method

Heat a large pan over a medium heat and add the coconut oil, once is has become liquid, add the mustard seeds and cardamom pods

Cook for a minute or so until the mustard seeds start to sizzle, but before they start to pop and fire all over the hob/stove (as I did recently!) 

Add the red onions and shallots and cook on a low/medium heat for 20-25 minutes until soft and caremalising, stirring every so often

Add the chopped garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes

Add the turmeric, coriander, cumin, ginger and garam masala and cook for a minute, then put in a splash of water to loosen the spices from the pot 

Add the butternut squash and tomatoes and onion seeds, stir well, and cook until the squash is soft. Add little amounts of water as you go along to stop the mixture from burning and sticking to the pan, and to cook the squash.

Towards the end, thrown in the curry leaves and cook for a few more minutes. And serve on its own, as a side dish, or however you fancy. 

Or…then leave it to sit for a day and reheat and eat the next day. I think that most dishes with spices taste even better if you give them time to develop their flavours more.  

  Healthy, tasty food, full of the goodness of vegetables and the wonderful powers of the spices – all so good for you 🙂 

  All of my spices are from Spice Kitchen UK, they are such lovely quality, and the pack sizes are perfect. (I have not been asked or paid to tell you this, I just like to share great producers and I love this company and their ethos, as well as their spices!) 

Enjoy! 

Good Food Show Winter

Last Saturday I made a flying visit to the BBC Good Food Show Winter in Birmingham; I was lucky enough to be given a press pass again this year and although I didn’t have much time, there were people I wanted to meet and products I wanted to see..

The place was packed! Soooooooo many people! Far too many people for my liking!! But great to see that the show was a success. I was very aware that a year ago I visited the Good Food Show in London with Selma, and I definitely missed her company and thought of her as I mooched around. 

I’ve learned from past experience that I don’t need to eat my weight in cheese samples at these things any more, so I happily came away not feeling quite so glutenous as on previous occasions. It does amaze me though just how much people taste and eat and drink! The companies at these shows make a serious investment when they take part!! 

So, the main reason I made the trip, was to meet these guys from Spice Kitchen UK.. 

Its a great family business and I love their products, their spices are so good, and I’ve been lucky enough to try so many of them 🙂 I’ve communicated with Sanjay (second from right) so often online so this was my chance to meet him. And what a lovely guy, so welcoming and so enthusiastic; and so proud of his Mum, for she and her cooking are the inspiration behind the business.  

 
The added bonus was also to meet Tom from the Nomadic Kitchen who has written a fabulous cookbook called Spices and Spandex..I highly recommend that you check it out. 

I, of course, didn’t come home empty handed, my haul included some lovely apple chutney and teas plus some mulled wine spice which is currently perfuming my kitchen from Spice Kitchen UK.. 

 
Plus these gorgeous bowls from Sytch Farm Studio, I am so in love with them I can’t bring myself to use them yet, I just keep looking at them.. 

  
  Each piece is finished with a signature ammonite. 

  
Above is Jon and Gill, the couple behind the business; Gill is the mega talented potter.

I also found some beetroot ketchup from the Foraging Fox, which I’ve been wanting to try.. 

 
Plus some new relishes from That Hungry Chef.. 

 
And these great blends of nut butters from Nut Blend…very tasty!  

 
So, a couple of hours well spent I’d say, don’t you agree? 

I’m glad I went, it’s always an education and interesting to see what’s on offer and what’s being created..and of course, what I’d do differently!! 

Going green: a sauce of freshness & fabulousness..

 I’ve been happily experimenting in my kitchen this week…I started by making the Spice Kitchen marinade/paste recipe again, but this time I added three times the amount of 0% greek yoghurt and a few roasted baby plum tomatoes that I had leftover. Again, it was lovely straight from the pot, but I forced myself not to eat it just off a spoon and used it in several different ways. It was created originally as a curry sauce or marinade, but I think it’s great uncooked as a sauce.
I stirred some through some raw mushrooms, and ate them (raw) as an accompaniment to some other vegetables, then cooked some of them in a pan for my husband.  
I then added some grated carrot to some more of the sauce and ate it as a salad with some grated hard goats cheese – it was so tasty!!!! This will be a new forever dish for me.
And then enjoyed some of the two collaborations all together 🙂  

As the week went on, I had some coriander to use up, so made another version of the recipe, this time minus onion and with some coconut yoghurt…seriously good!! I’ve eaten it with everything! Of course, I had to test it with some roasted cauliflower..would you expect anything else?!  It’s a really fresh flavour; if you don’t have coconut yoghurt, I would just use natural greek yoghurt, I just though I’d try it out with some coconut inclusion, plus it makes it a vegan option. (Recipe below)
     My green goodness sauce 

Ingredients 

5 small long sweet red peppers (aka ‘romero’ peppers) or 2 large red capsicums 

2 tbsp tomato purée

2 bunches fresh coriander

250g coconut milk yoghurt (I used Coyo)

3 tbsp tamarind paste

3 cloves garlic

30g fresh ginger

2 tsp turmeric

2 tsp garam masala

1/2 tsp chilli powder

1 tsp salt 

Method

Blitz it all together in your blender – I chopped up all the coriander first to make space for everything else, then added the rest of the ingredients bit by bit. 

This is so tasty by the spoonful, let alone as a marinade, or accompaniment to a dish, just dig in to all that flavour and goodness then decide what to use it for. 

I haven’t tested it for longevity, but I have had the sauce in a sealed pot in the fridge for up to a week and it’s been fine – this is obviously not official advice, just my kitchen experience. 

I used the leftover sauce yesterday with grated carrot and cheese, scooped up on spinach flatbreads. So good! 

It’s the end of another week and therefore time for another fabulous Fiesta Friday, co hosted this week by the amazing Naina, and new boy, Quinn..come on over the join the fun and give them your support. 

Happy Friday and happy weekend xxx 

Is it a marinade, a paste, a dip…or all three??? 

 

 Some of you will have seen that I recently bought a selection on spices from a new source.. 

…these are all from the Spice Kitchen, based in Birmigham in the UK.  This is a new company, set up by Sanjay and his Mum, sharing her many years of cooking and their love of spices. They have a lovely range of fresh, ground spices, lots of different selections, plus spice tins, like you see above, and a selection of cooking products. 

Before I go on…

Disclaimer: This post is not sponsored by the Spice Kitchen, or paid for by them in any way, I bought the spices myself and made the paste and wanted to share my findings…

So, your order arrives with business cards and leaflets from the Sanjay and his Mum, including one of her family recipes for a curry paste/marinade, which I immediately made, and used, and made again!!! This has also finally got me trying, and liking, tamarind paste; I’ve seen lots of you use it, but I hadn’t until now. 

  I have permission from Sanjay to share the recipe with you, which is great, and I can tell you how I used it..  

I made it the first time with tomato paste, and the second time with red pepper, and both were good. I used it to marinade chicken and cook chicken curry for my boys but it went too quick to photograph!  But what I did get, are shots of aubergine marinating.. 

 I simply stirred it through chunks of raw aubergine the pan cooked it, adding a little water to cook the aubergine and some extra paste to make a sauce… 

I then threw in some mushrooms and created a dish for my dinner.. 

With some leftovers, I did what I do: I blended them up with tahini and created a dip, and it was very tasty. It’s the first time I’ve used mushrooms in a dip and they created a real lightness to it.. 

  

 The second time I made the paste, I did the same but just with mushrooms, then drizzled tahini over the top tomato some protein..this was my lunch today..  

 

  

 And whilst these were cooking, I spread a spoonful of the paste on a piece of wholemeal spelt sourdough that I’d made this morning…Nice!!!  

     So many ways to use one recipe!!! And I’m sure there’s lots more 🙂 to be honest, I also ate it on its with a spoon! I really like that there’s no oil in the recipe, it’s just pure great ingredients, really healthy and flavoursome. And the longer it sits in the fridge, the more those flavours develop. 

I really like the company and their products and enthusiasm, and the small packets are ideal for someone just starting out or for trying out new spices, or for someone who doesn’t have the room for a whole great pile of them like me!!! 

I hope you don’t mind me sharing this with you? I’m now going to bring all of my dishes plus a bowl of the paste and some carrot sticks over to this week’s Fiesta Friday party, co hosted this week for you by the wonderful Loretta and Steffi.. Enjoy!!! 

Have a great weeknd xx