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Spice Mixtures

 


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There are so many countries nearly defined by their spice mixtures; all unique and flavorful.  This page will be dedicated to recipes for many of these mixtures.  They are listed on the Flavors page and linked to the recipe on this page.  If you know of a spice mixture that is an essential part of cooking or baking of a country, please contact me and tell me about it.


Green Masala 

This mixture is a wet mix of herbs such as cilantro and mint with jalapeno peppers and ginger, as well as spices to make up some fabulous flavors. This mixture will keep a long time in the fridge, as long as the top of the mixture stays covered with oil.
 
Makes about 2¼ cups 

½ teaspoon fenugreek seeds, soaked for at least 3 hours, drained
5 large garlic cloves
2 tablespoons fresh ginger, roughly chopped
1 jalapeno
1 cup packed fresh mint leaves
1 cup packed cilantro with stems 
½ cup white vinegar
2½ teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons turmeric powder
1½ teaspoons Garam Masala 
¾ cup oil

Green Masala
Green Masala

Place all ingredients except the oil into a blender container and blend until fine. Heat the oil in a saucepan and add in the blended mixture; bring to boil and then immediately remove from heat. Allow to cool before storing in a jar with a tight fitting lid. Oil should pool on top of the mixture. This is fine, as it acts as a seal, keeping the green masala fresh and usable for longer. If there is no oil pooling on top, add a little more oil before closing and refrigerating the jar of masala.  

Panch Phoron

 


Panch Phoron is the India equivalent to Chinese Five-Spice powder. Mainly from the Bengali region of India, this spice mixture is generally toasted and stored whole. It can be added to a recipe whole, or lightly crushed or heated to crackling in oil, then use either the now-fragrant oil alone or along with the spices. As fenugreek is bitter, I am using half the amount as the rest of the spices, though you may use the whole tablespoon if desired.

Makes about 1/3 cup

1 tablespoon black/brown mustard seeds
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon nigella seeds
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
1½ teaspoon fenugreek seeds

Heat a dry skillet to very hot and add all the seeds, stirring and moving them quickly and constantly until they become very fragrant and the mustard seeds begin to pop. Remove from heat, pour the spices onto a plate to cool. Once cooled, store in a glass jar with tightly fitting lid in a cool, dark place.

Panch Phoron Spices
Panch Phoron Spices: fenugreek in center, then clockwise around from top nigella seed, cumin seed, brown mustard seeds and fennel seeds.
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Berbere Spice 

Ethiopian Berbere spice is generally a fiery-hot mixture that can be made as a paste or as a dry spice mix. Either way, the amount of chilies and or cayenne will determine how hot the mix may be. If you prefer to taste the spice mixture without so much heat, lower the amount of cayenne used to 1/4 teaspoon if necessary. My mixture is made dry.

Makes about 2/3 to ¾ cup

2 teaspoons whole coriander seeds
1 teaspoon cardamom seeds
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 teaspoon whole fenugreek seeds
4 whole cloves
4 whole allspice berries
1” true cinnamon stick crumbled, or 1 teaspoon ground
½ cup dried onion flakes
¼ cup sweet paprika
(up to) 2 tablespoons cayenne, or omit if desired
1 teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

Berbere Spices

In a hot, dry skillet, toast the whole seeds: coriander, cardamom, peppercorns, fenugreek, cloves, allspice and cinnamon if whole. Stirring constantly, heat spices through until very fragrant. 3 to 5 minutes, depending on how high the heat. Pour spices onto a plate to cool. Place the cooled spices into a spice grinder with the onion flakes and grind to a powder. Mix all ingredients together well with the paprika, cayenne, ginger and nutmeg and store in an airtight glass jar in a cool, dark place.

NOTES: Use this spice blend to season chicken stew, mix it into meatballs, mix with olive oil and use as a rub for meats or chicken, mix it with sour cream and or yogurt as a dip, sprinkle it over top of pizza. Let your imagination go wild.

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Dry Onion Soup Mix 

I have long ago stopped using packets with MSG. Unfortunately this left a gaping hole where there were recipes. Things like the roasted potatoes, or sour cream dip or a packet into a roast were no longer available. I had to fix this problem, so I created this recipe. Upon reading one of the actual "store-bought" dry onion soup labels, I found there was very little of any real flavors in it. I have added in turmeric here, though that is not a regular ingredient because it is so good for you, but it can be omitted. Most bouillon contains MSG, so instead I used salt. Reconstitute with a very low sodium broth if you prefer. I also added a small amount of celery seed. In order to avoid little seeds floating around, I used a mortar and pestle to grind them to a powder.

Makes ¼ cup, equal to about one packet. Reconstitute with 4 cups liquid.

3 tablespoons dried minced onion
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon sugar, optional
½ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon turmeric
¼ teaspoon celery seeds, crushed or ground
¼ - ½ teaspoon black pepper

Mix all ingredients together and store in a glass jar in a cool dark place.

If mixing up more than one batch at a time for future use, be sure to mix thoroughly before using, as the onion will tend to surface and the finer ingredients will sink.


Dry Onion Soup Mix
Dry Onion Soup Mix
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Chinese Five-Spice Powder 

This mixture is potent in flavor, with star anise and its anise/licorice flavor, cinnamon, cloves, fennel, adding more of the anise like flavor and cloves, another potent spice. The mixture is easily used in dishes as an addition to a marinade with other Chinese flavors such as soy sauce, fresh ginger and garlic. Use it to marinate chicken to grill or bake, or pork tenderloins. It can be sprinkled onto fish and baked or fried, or onto vegetables as desired. Sweet potatoes are a great example, as they are usually paired with sweet spices. Experiment!

Makes about ½ cup

10 whole star anise
1 tablespoon Sichuan peppercorns
1 (4-inch) stick true cinnamon, crumbled
2 tablespoons whole fennel seeds
½ teaspoon whole cloves

Chinese Five Spices
Chinese Five Spices. Clockwise from top left: star anise, true cinnamon, cloves, fennel seeds, Sichuan Peppercorns
Place all the spices into a dry skillet and heat, stirring constantly, until very fragrant. Turn onto a plate to cool, then grind in a spice grinder or coffee grinder used only for spices. Store in a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid in a cool, dark place.

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Wet Rub for Steak 

I have been using this for a long time, when preparing to make steaks of any kind. I use my Beef & Pork Seasoning Mix, below, to sprinkle on most any meat or burgers, especially for grilling, and it makes a great admixture for rubs such as this one. This is best made with whole, fresh spices and a mortar and pestle.

Makes enough to season about 3 or 4 steaks

1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, minced
1 teaspoon Grains of Paradise, optional
¼ teaspoon black peppercorns
2 teaspoons Kosher salt
3 cloves fresh garlic, more to taste
1 teaspoon Beef & Pork Seasoning Mix
2 tablespoons olive oil

If making with fresh whole spices: Place rosemary, Grains of Paradise, black peppercorns and kosher salt into a mortar and grind with pestle until fairly fine, or to taste. Add in the garlic and pound to
Wet Rub for Steaks
Wet Rub for Steaks
Wet Rub for Steaks on Filet Mignons
Wet Rub for Steaks, used on Filet Mignons
pulverize completely into a paste. Add in the olive oil and Beef & Pork Seasoning Mix and combine. Use hands to rub onto steaks at least 2 hours prior to grilling. Allow to rest at room temperature. Grill as desired.

If making with pre-ground spices: Use fresh rosemary; dried will never give the same flavor or texture. Place the rosemary into a small bowl. Use fresh garlic, finely minced, or passed through a garlic press and add to the rosemary in the bowl. Add in the finely minced rosemary, ground Grains of Paradise if using, the pepper, salt, Beef & Pork Seasoning Mix and olive oil and stir well to combine. Rub all over the steaks and allow to rest at room temperature for at least 2 hours. Grill as desired.


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Garam Masala 2 

Here is another version of a Garam Masala, or spice mixture, for use in cooking Indian foods. These Garam Masalas are mainly a northern Indian spice. They are mainly interchangeable, depending on which type of flavor you prefer. This is a simple recipe, using each spice in the same amount.
 

Makes about 1/3 to ½ cup

2 inches true cinnamon stick, crumbled (about 1 tablespoon)
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon cardamom seeds
1 tablespoon cloves
1 tablespoon bay leaves, crumbled (about 3 - 4 leaves)
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 tablespoon coriander seeds

Place all spices into a dry skillet and heat to fairly high. Stir very often, so the spices do not burn. When they are very fragrant, remove from heat to a plate to cool. Grind in a spice grinder or coffee grinder used only for spices. Store in a tightly sealed container in a cool, dry place.

Garam Masala 2
Garam Masala 2
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Pickling Spice Mix 

Faced with some fresh cucumbers and a desire to make refrigerator pickles, I found I had no pickling spices! Here is a recipe I put together with great results.

Makes about 1/3 cup

2 (3-inch) cassia cinnamon sticks
1 (1-inch) piece whole dried ginger
4 whole bay leaves, crumbled
2 tablespoons whole coriander seeds
1 tablespoon whole mustard seeds
2 teaspoons whole cloves
1 teaspoon whole mace blades, crumbled
1 teaspoon whole allspice berries
1 teaspoon dill seeds
1 small dried red chili pepper, crumbled

Place the cinnamon sticks and the whole ginger into a baggie, or between towels and pound with a hammer or other heavy object until in medium small bits. Place in a small bow, along with all the rest of the ingredients and toss to combine.

Pickling Spice Mix
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Dukkah  (Dugga, Duqqa, Dukka)

Another wonderfully redolent Egyptian and/or Middle Eastern Spice mixture. Sometimes it seems the most unlikely mixes are the ones that taste the best. This one has its basis in nuts, most commonly hazelnuts, almonds or pistachios, with coriander and cumin, black pepper and salt. After that, there are any number of interesting spices that can be added in, even Zahtar, or yet another spice blend called Baharat.

Makes about 1½ cups

½ cup shelled hazelnuts
½ cup shelled raw almonds
3 tablespoons coriander seeds
2 tablespoons cumin seeds
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
2 teaspoons nigella seeds, optional
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 teaspoon dried lemon peel
2 teaspoons flake salt, or other salt to taste

Dukkah
Serving of Dukkah
Bread dipped in oil and Dukkah
Dip bread in oil and then the Dukkah spices
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place the nuts on a baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes, or until nicely toasted. Watch carefully; they can go from toasted to burnt in very little time. Remove from oven and place the hazelnuts on a kitchen towel and rub off the most dark skins possible. Place all the nuts in a food processor and process until broken down into meal, but not too finely.

Separately, heat a dry skillet over medium high heat. Mix together the next 5 ingredients and stir gently with a wooden spoon to toast until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Pour onto a plate to cool. Once cooled, place into a spice grinder or use a mortar and pestle to grind until well broken down, but not a fine powder. Add in the lemon peel and salt and combine with the nut mixture.

NOTES: This spice mixture is often used for dipping. Using a coarse bread or pita bread, pieces are dipped into olive oil and then into the Dukkah and eaten. Dukkah can be used to coat meats for baking or frying, such as chicken, beef or even fish or seafood.


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Sweet Smoky Cocoa Rub 

My very own mixture. Use this rub for meats like pork, beef or chicken. Great for grilled meats or kebabs. Try it with Sweet Cocoa Rubbed Pork Loin Roast.

Makes 1 1/3 cups rub mix

¾ cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons onion powder
1 tablespoon paprika, preferably Spanish
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1½ teaspoons smoked paprika (Pimienta de la Vera)
teaspoons salt
teaspoons ground coriander seed
1 teaspoon ancho chile powder, or more to taste
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon chipotle powder, optional
¾ teaspoon ground cumin

Mix all ingredients until thoroughly blended. If storing, use an airtight container and keep in a cool, dry place away from heat or light.

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Beef and Pork Seasoning Mix 

I created this mixture to season steaks, burgers and chops. Use it wherever you wand some really nice flavors to stand out. Best made using whole spices and grinding in a spice grinder.

Makes about 5 tablespoons (double or triple as desired)

1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 tablespoon dried garlic flakes
1 tablespoon dried onion flakes
2 teaspoons dried lemon peel
1½ teaspoons yellow mustard seeds
1 teaspoon allspice berries
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon dried oregano flakes

Place all ingredients into a spice grinder and grind to a powder. Store in an airtight jar in a cool, dry place, away from heat and light.

Ras el Hanout 

A Moroccan Spice mixture meaning "Best of the Shop", this is a blend of some of the best spices.  It may be used as a spice rub or to season stews, tagines, meat, poultry, fish or vegetables.

Makes about 2/3 cup

3 whole nutmegs

10 rosebuds

1 tablespoon ground ginger

1 tablespoon Grains of Paradise

1 tablespoon allspice berries

1 tablespoon lavender flowers

2 teaspoons black peppercorns

2 teaspoons cardamom seeds

2 teaspoons ground galangal

1 teaspoon ajwain seeds

1 teaspoon black cumin (kala jeera)

1 teaspoon mace blades

1 teaspoon turmeric powder

2 six-inch sticks true cinnamon

6 cloves
½ teaspoon Spanish Saffron


In a dry skillet, separately heat until fragrant the Grains of Paradise, allspice berries, black peppercorns, cardamom seeds, ajwain seeds, black cumin, cinnamon and cloves.  Remove each to a plate to cool. Crush or grate the nutmeg. Place all ingredients into a spice grinder or blender and grind to a fine powder.

Ras el Hanout 1
Ras el Hanout 2
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Zahtar / Za'atar / Zatar

Makes about ¾ cup

A Middle Eastern and Mediterranean spice mixture, used dry sprinkled over foods, or mixed with olive oil and brushed on flatbreads.  May be sprinkled over any dish that could use a little zip. 

¼ cup sumac powder
¼ cup raw, unhulled sesame seeds (may be toasted in a dry pan first)
2 tablespoons dried oregano leaves (not powder)
1 tablespoon dried thyme leaves (not powder)
1 teaspoon salt

Zahtar Ingredients      Zahtar
Above left, clockwise from top left: Sumac, Toasted Sesame Seeds, Oragano, Salt, Thyme.
Above right, Zahtar. Below left, Zahtar in olive oil for dipping.

If toasting sesame seeds, place them in a dry frying pan and stir constantly until they begin to pop and snap. Remove from heat immediately and pour onto a plate to cool. Grind all ingredients together in a mortar and pestle, or briefly pulse together in a spice grinder.

Store Zahtar in a clean glass jar with close fitting lid for up to 3 months.
 Zahtar in Olive Oil
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Garam Masala 1 

These days, Garam Masala seems to be popping up in recipes all over the place; not just in Indian recipes, anymore, either.  Technically, the words just imply a spice mixture, one that varies from household to household in India.  This mixture is my favorite, although there are more variations that I could count. 

Makes about 3/4 cup

4 tablespoons coriander seeds
2 tablespoons cumin seeds
1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
2 teaspoons cardamom seeds (measure after removing & discarding husks)
3 inches cinnamon stick (true cinnamon)
1 teaspoon whole cloves
1 whole nutmeg

In a small dry skillet, roast separately the coriander, cumin, peppercorns, cardamom, cinnamon and cloves. As each starts to turn fragrant, turn out onto a plate to cool. Crush the nutmeg into smaller pieces. Nutmeg is fairly soft and easy to crush. Put all spices into an electric blender or small coffee mill used only for spices and grind to a fine powder. Store in a glass jar with an airtight seal.

Garam Masala Spices
Garam Masala Spices:
Top row: Coriander, Nutmeg, Cinnamon, Cumin
Bottom Row: Cloves, Black Peppercorns, Cardamom Seeds
 

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Barbecue Spice Mix 

A lovely blend of spices that will work to either sprinkle on meats just before grilling, or to use as a spice rub.  I did not add salt into the mixture, so it can be used as much or little as needed.

Makes ½ cup

4 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons smoked paprika (Pimenton de la Vera)
2 teaspoons ancho chile powder
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon ground cassia cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground thyme
¼ teaspoon ground white pepper
¼ teaspoon ground dried ginger
¼ teaspoon dried chipotle powder

Barbecue Spices
Barbecue Spices

Directions: Combine all herbs and spices together and store in a glass jar with tight fitting lid.

NOTES: If using as a spice rub for a meat, mix into the entire amount: ¼ cup each of Kosher Salt and light brown sugar.  Mix well and rub all over one whole chicken, cut up and allow to rest overnight, refrigerated, before grilling.