Chances are, if you’ve gone out at all over the past couple of decades, you’ve been in a café where someone was ordering the spiced tea beverage called chai. Continue reading
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Posted on June 2, 2014 by admin
I am so fascinated with galangal,which is a rhizome similar to ginger, and is used much in the same way, only galangal is harder and denser than ginger.
There are two types of galangal: Greater galangal, which is native to Indonesia; and lesser galangal, which mostly grows on the southeast coast of China and in India.Although the name might be unfamiliar to most westerners, galangal had been imported in large quantities to Europe ever since the Middle Ages to be used as a medicine and a spice. Continue reading
Posted on November 4, 2013 by admin
There's something rare and magical about the elegant fragrance and exotic flavor that vanilla provides, especially in culinary use, and it is well worth going that extra mile to buy the best that you can.
Nowadays, vanilla can be used to describe anything from soap to soup to sugar. Many connoisseurs will use words to define the complex flavors of vanilla such as woody, floral, spicy, chocolaty, creamy and even fruity. It is no small wonder that vanilla is prized for its depth of fragrance and taste and why it is used in so many amazing applications. Continue reading
Posted on October 28, 2013 by admin
Spanning an illustrious history of over 3000 years, the crimson hued saffron was once the choice of spice for kings, pharaohs and emperors. But these royal leaders were not planning to have a meal with saffron they were more interested in its alleged aphrodisiacal qualities, and because of that, they valued it more than gold.
In today's culture, saffron is still a highly prized commodity for its medicinal properties and for its culinary applications. This beautiful spice comes from the crocus flower that produces tiny thread-like slivers called stigmas and are considered one of the most expensive spices in the world. It can command from $1,500 to $2,000 per pound. But that is for someone who is buying saffron for commercial purposes. For us home-chefs, you can buy much smaller quantities of saffron threads, and the good thing is, you only need to use a few threads at a time when cooking your specific dish. Continue reading
Posted on October 7, 2013 by admin
Whether cooking with ginger or enjoying a cup of hot ginger tea, the world has been enjoying this ancient spice for centuries. It is believed that ginger was first introduced to the human palate some 5000 years ago, and it is still as popular today as it was back then.
Today, ginger is grown in any sub-tropical regions with India being the largest producer of the spice. Even though the cultivation of ginger began in South Asia, it has since spread to East Africa,the Caribbean and all the way across the four corners of the world. Continue reading
Posted on September 30, 2013 by admin
This exotic spice has an intoxicating, rich aroma with complex flavors of sweet floral notes, camphor, lemon, mint and a hint of pepper. Cardamom is the dried seed pod of an herbaceous perennial plant in the ginger family and is native to India, Bhutan and Nepal. Inside the pod, the seeds are grouped in clusters with a sticky resin-like coating; this is an indication of certain freshness.
There are three varieties of cardamom with the two main types being the black and green pods and the white cardamom, which is simply bleached green cardamom. This process of bleaching softens the dominance of the menthol note giving the white pod a sweet and pleasant flavor. In some European countries, specifically Scandinavia, the white cardamom is the preferred style found in most of their baked goods.
Black cardamom has a totally different flavor than the popular green pods. When the pods are dried, they turn black which gives them a prominent smoky characteristic with strong peppery overtones. It is one of the essential ingredients in North Indian curries. Black cardamom has even made its way as a primary ingredient in certain fusion cuisines like Indian-Chinese Sichuanese red-cooked dishes. It also works very well in bitter foods that require extended cooking, such as collard greens. Just by adding a few pods to rice or lentils during the cooking process can heighten the flavor of these simple dishes to something quite interesting. Sometimes I like to use cardamom when making a dry rub for meat, or as an ingredient in sauces. Continue reading