Archive for the Herbs & Spices Category

Peachy Mint ?

Posted in Herbs & Spices, Nature with tags , , , on 3,July,2013 by Mia

Im very excited.. I`ve been taking walks and appreciating the lovely nature around the village..so much to discover, and I am slowly realizing how I am blessed ! Farmers with small lands growing and selling their fresh produce.. a stream of beautiful fresh water coming down from the mountains all along the village towards what should be an amazing Fresh water river and water fall where I hear people bathe! I cant wait to go see it!
In the meantime I picked up a wild herb which seems like a special kind of mint..I was wondering if anyone knows what it is?
Its small leaves resemble the shape of the Oregano,but the fragrance is minty with a ‘Peachy’ Aroma!
Im intrigued..!
I promise photos of all this to follow! ūüôā

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Homemade Pickles

Posted in Food (vegan), Herbs & Spices, Uncategorized with tags , , on 22,August,2012 by Mia

I am a huge fan of Pickles..dont ask me why..I just am..not one for spicy stuff but Pickles I adore,though only the ones made in Salt..and here in Cyprus I have searched everywhere and have only found Pickles in Vinegar and sugar..which is a whole different ballgame..
SO..I just remembered that I used to make them myself..and actually..they come out even more awesome!I found a used large jar,got myself some¬†Cucumbers and some Salt ..and as easy as one two three…….weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee have great Pickles!

Before I explain the very short and simple procedure,allow me to remind you that Pickles are actually a very important part of our health regime,aiding in digestion enormously,regulating intestinal flora and more..check out this site to learn more : http://www.mitoku.com/products/pickles/healthbenefits.html

Ok..so now here`s how to do it..

1 Jar sterilised in Boiling water,
Depending on the size jar you find :

Cucumbers to fill the jar.
They should be small and firm.

Sea salt

Garlic cloves

Pepper Corns

Herbs Optional (I like to use the classic for this which is Dill),Bay Leaf

Piment spice Optional

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Rinse the cucumbers

Fill your jar

Peel a few Garlic cloves and place scattered in jar

Spread some Pepper corns into the jar

Add herbs and chilli peppers(or any other) if you like.

Prepare a sollution of 1 spoon Salt to a cup of Boiling water

and pour into jar filling it to the top.

Pour a thick layer of Olive oil to cover the top

Close your jar hermetically

Place in the terrace/sun on a piece of old newspaper as during the process it may spill.

Leave in the sun for about 2-3 days.Mainly depends on the heat and conditions.

Check that the fermentation has begun but not overdone.

The cucumbers begin to change color.

Place and keep in Fridge.

Enjoy! ~

Ajwan

Posted in Herbs & Spices with tags , , , , , , on 1,March,2009 by Mia

 

Ajwan spice-Kahliya-logue

Since I have introduced Ajwain in my recent post,I feel the need to elaborate on this delightful Spice which has become another favorite of mine,though seemingly not widely known.

My first encounter with Ajwan was quite funny.Years back my sister in law brought me a batch of¬† a very popular savory biscuit in the mediterranean region,called Kaak, that her Grandmother prepared.I adore these biscuits,but when I took one bite I was totally captured,I have never tasted ones like these.As I tried to further explore their flavor,and discover what it was that made them so special..I found it! I took them apart and found this small innocent looking seed..I asked her what it is..and she had no idea..I kept nudging her till she asked her grandmother from Yemen,who in return explained that this is ”Nachua” -a spice from her specific region in yemen-Aden,and that she has them sent to her especially from the community in London!My God,I said to myself,I have discovered GOLD,this must be special.. I then waited for the next supply to arrive,so I can see the original package.When I did,it read ”Ajwan”,thats weird I thought..

Those days I found a great spice shop,owned by a young man of Yemen origin,I immediatly asked him,tell me,do you have any Nachua? He looked at me kind of weird and said,now how the hell do you know about Nachua?He told me that only Yemenite people from that specific area know about it(especially using this name)..  I considered myself lucky and started to experiment with it..! He also explained that it is great for digestion and stomach aches;and on a different note that some people drink it in their coffee..

When I moved to Paris,and those days I was very much exposed to Ayurveda,I started to explore the indian grocery shops,and there much to my surprise was my friend ”Ajwan”.I was delighted !

I deliberately went into detail here,as I am thrilled once again to trackdown roots and origins of our habits,only to discover ,sometimes in the most surprising places and ways,where they meet aswell as where they differ.

“Ajwan”¬† as I know it or “Ajwain” is a popular spice in India,normally used in the preparations of dals and pulse dishes,aswell as vegetable dishes and Indian breads such as Parathas,though it seems it`s origin is in Eastern mediterranean,maybe Egypt! Possibly arriving in India during the Greek conquest of Central Asia.In Ayurveda,it is¬†highly appreciated for its¬† carminative effects aiding in digestion,dispelling gas,releving stomach aches and even used for asthma!

An infusion of these seeds in hot water is an excellent remedy for many stomach related problems,chewing on a few seeds after a heavy meal aids in its digestion,as the presence in the preparation of certain dishes aids in the digestion of that dish..hence maybe the original reason for it`s presence in pulse dishes.

I find that in it`s appearance it resembles exactly the Anise seed,and as I have mentioned earlier it`s flavor slightly resembles Thyme,as it also contains Thymol,but has a much stronger taste,somewhat reminding me of the Cardamom spice.Therefore I personally love adding them into many of my savory pastries.

 

Some very interesting references:

Wikipedia

kfunigraz.ac.at

Kingtutshop.com

I would love to hear if any of you know of this spice from a different angle or origin!

Baharat-spice blend

Posted in Herbs & Spices with tags , , , , on 6,February,2009 by Mia

 

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Baharat is a spice blend typically used in Middle Eastern countries.The word Baharat means spice/spices in Arabic,but oddly enough it`s origin leads us to a Sanscrit¬†¬†name of ¬†‘India’; also said to be derived from the word ‘Bahar’ in Arabic which means pepper,as it is a blend of pepper with other spices.

In Israel this spice blend is known to have  been introduced by the community of  Jews coming from IraQ,though many countries in the middle east have the same basic blend,as certain ingredients differ slightly.Some include dried mint;others rose petals;sometimes it has Cassia bark and at others loomi(dried black lime)and saffron threads,or Cardamom.

Baharat is mostly used for Meat dishes and soups.I adore this blend,it is¬†one of¬†my favorite spices¬†as I add it to almost everything!¬†Since ¬†I am vegan,there is no meat involved here,but I enjoy the warming flavor it gives to soups and veggies.I found it to be especially enhancing¬† for ‘meat substitutes’¬† for example the dehydrated minced soy protein,which I add to the fillings of¬† stuffed vegetables that I make..but more of that another time.. ūüôā

As I have mentioned the combination varies slightly but this is the variation I know and use:

For a small jar of 100 gram:

50 gram ground Cinnamon

6  ground Nutmeg seeds

2 tblspoon rose petals

1 tblspoon ground dried Ginger

1 tblspoon ground Cloves

50 gram ground Black pepper

50 gram ground Allspice

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Combine all ground spices together and mix well.keep in an airtight closed jar away from sunlight.

While freshly grinding these spices in the authentic manner-with a pestle and mortar is obviously the best,it is not always possible and machine grinding them is fine aswell as buying them ready ground,though try to make sure they are freshly and purely ground.

Feel free to experiment on making the combination that works the best for you!

Here are some additional links to other combinations:

theepicentre

recipezaar

thegourmetfoodsource

cliffordawright

Enjoy!

Doah-Egyptian spice mixture

Posted in Food (vegan), Herbs & Spices with tags , , , , , on 20,December,2008 by Mia

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If we are already in the Egyptian kitchen, as I actually went to buy my habitual ”’ful-fix” from the spice market, the merchant offered:”‘I just happened to grind a fresh batch of Doah,would you like some?”

One whiff and he got me..

Doah is a mixture of ground spices eaten for breakfast or any snack time,usually by dipping ¬†pieces of¬† pita bread first in olive oil,then into the mixture.Another nice version would be to spread some olive oil on toasted bread and then¬†some ”Doah” on top..deeeelicious!¬†Feel free to sprinkle the spice on salad or experiment using it in different dishes!

Doah mixture:

1/2 cup Coriander seeds

2 tbs Cumin seeds

1/2 cup Peanuts

1/2 Salt

1/2 cup Split dried Chickpeas

1/4 cup Dried Mint leaves

1/2 cup Sesame seeds

* Please note that combinations and relative amounts differ upon personal taste.

—————————–

Toast each of the spices (not including salt  and mint)separately a little bit in a skillet to release their aroma,then grind all of them together.   Save in an airtight jar.

The aroma this spice has is fabulous and ever so warming in this weather..can`t you smell it already..?