Spice blends originating from the Middle East are complex, aromatic yet versatile for use in commercial and domestic kitchens. This culturally rich part of the globe boasts of scents and flavours which are penetrating far and wide. Middle Eastern cuisine is gaining in popularity for good reason.
Acquaint yourself with some well balanced intoxicating Middle Eastern Spice Blends. Once you know their composition and unique properties, you will be better equipped to incorporate them into your cooking.
Listed here are the popular ones to get you started and hooked on:
Quintessential to this region, za’atar is the Arabic word for ‘thyme’. A sprinkle of this aromatic spice is fit to take savoury dishes up a notch. A combination of toasted white sesame seeds, cumin, salt, dried sumac berries, oregano, and thyme results in this flavourful concoction.
The minerals released from toasting the sesame seeds are used by your body to process protein, carbohydrates and cholesterol. As a garnish, za’atar adds colour to flatbreads. When combined in dips like hummus and baba ghanush, it lends a wonderful tanginess and nuttiness. Mix it with olive oil and use it as a rub for grilling fish, meats and even vegetables.
Literally meaning ‘to pound’ and pronounced as ‘doo-kah’, this spice blend mixes freshly toasted and ground seeds with nuts. For that crunch element, combine hazelnuts or peanuts with pumpkin or sesame seeds and dried herbs. Nuts are loaded with proteins and healthy fats essential for the functioning of your brain and overall body.
Middle Eastern spice blends are a welcome addition to your food. This one too does not disappoint. Its thick texture is ideal for roasting as it crisps up further in the oven. Use it to crust your chicken, fish, lamb or tofu. Toss popcorn or fried chickpeas in a tablespoon of dukkah and you have an interesting snack to munch on. Sprinkling this mix on pasta, feta cheese, fresh fruit and roasted vegetables gives them a lovely kick.
To make this crimson blend combine dried garlic, sweet paprika, salt, cumin, caraway seeds, a dash of vegetable oil and smoked hot peppers. Harissa is considered a prized dry rub for grilled meats and flavourful addition to soups and long-simmered stews. It also enhances dips, appetisers, pizzas and even scrambled eggs.
Capsaicin is the compound found in hot peppers which reduces blood pressure. Spiced up food cuts down your yearning for salty, fatty and sweet bites thus, keeps your calorie intake to the bare minimum.
Now that you have been introduced to the wonders of these versatile spice blends, season your everyday food with them. Apart from that extra zing, you stand to benefit health wise too.