Category Archives: Spice blends

Pan grilled Prawns (spiced with Z’hug)

Yet another spice blend to add to my repertoire!

Z’hug or Z’hoog (as pronounced) is a traditional blend from Yemen. Traditionally, the blend is in the form of a wet marinade made from fresh and moist ingredients like parsley, garlic, cilantro and the local Marash pepper.

Pan grilled Prawns (spiced with Z’hug) - thespiceadventuress.com

Amongst the cookbooks I own, one of my most prized ones is the New Moroccan by Mourad Lahlou. It’s an amazing book where Chef/author Mourad Lahlou delves into traditional Moroccan cooking, basics and fundamentals but executed in a modern, contemporary style.

So there’s information about so many spices, ingredients, techniques from in and around the region; great for those who do not know much about Morocco or its cuisine. Yet the recipes and dishes outlined are global fare.

Though Z’hug is a wet blend as mentioned, Mourad has outlined a recipe in the book for a dry version which is often used in his restaurant. And that’s what I have used too, except that instead of Marash pepper, I used semi dried chillies. Even though I do stock the Marash pepper, it’s not an easy one to find for most people so I decided to use the chilli variety that is available locally and easily for all. But if you do have it, use it by all means.

There are plenty of ways to use Z’hug. It can be used as a dry rub for steaks or roast chicken. It can also be used to spice up casseroles, lentils or roast vegetables. Roast nuts spiced with Z’hug is also a great idea.

Z’hug and seafood would also be a delightful combination. And I wanted to make something that’s quick and simply to put together for a midweek meal or as a party starter. The spice blend can also be made in excess and stored; one that is great to have in the pantry always.

I decided to use prawns marinated with Z’hug and then pan grill it. Prawns do not require prolonged marination, so it’s a dish that comes together in no time at all. And with the holiday season upon us, this is a great dish to add to your party table.

Pan grilled Prawns (spiced with Z’hug) - thespiceadventuress.com

Ingredients:

  1. 600gms tiger prawns; deveined and deshelled
  2. Z’hug blend
  3. Salt; to season
  4. Vegetable oil
  5. Lemon wedges; to serve

Z’hug:

(I have used Gourmet Garden’s semi dried chillies and herbs; but you can substitute with any brand you have access to. Or you can use fresh ingredients to make a wet spice marinade)

  1. 2 tsp semi dried chilli flakes
  2. 3 tsp ground coriander
  3. 2 tsp dried cilantro/coriander leaves
  4. 3 tsp dried parsley
  5. 1 tsp garlic granules
  6. 1 tsp ground cumin
  7. 1 tsp ground caraway
  8. 1 tsp ground cardamom
  9. ¼ tsp citric acid
  10. ¼ tsp ground black pepper

Method:

To make Z’hug:

  • Combine all the ingredients, grind if necessary and store in an airtight container.

To prepare the final dish:

  • Clean and pat dry the prawns.
  • In a non reactive bowl, marinate the prawns with Z’hug and season with salt. Mix well and keep for 15-30minutes.
  • Brush enough oil and heat the grill pan to high. Pan grill the prawns in batches till done.
  • Serve hot with lemon wedges.

Pan grilled Prawns (spiced with Z’hug) - thespiceadventuress.com

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Achari Mushrooms (White Button Mushrooms sautéed with aromatics and Achari spice blend)

Now, there are tons of recipes floating on the cyber culinary world with the pre-fix ‘achari’. For those who aren’t aware, achari or achar refers to pickle in Hindi. The Indian pickles, unlike the Western counterparts, are an indulgence of spices and these very spices are used to flavour other dishes too, which have ended up being labeled ‘achari’.

You might have read the ‘achari okra’ recipe that I had posted on the blog a while ago. In that dish, I used a spoonful of the pickle itself to add flavour to the okras. But in today’s dish, achari mushrooms, I made the achari spice blend and this was used to add flavour to the white button mushrooms.

The achari spice blend is a flavourful and fragrant medley of mustard, cumin, fennel, fenugreek, carrom, dry chillies, dry mango and nigella (the seeds, not the diva!)

1

It is an extremely versatile blend that can be used for flavouring barbecues, meat skewers etc…apart from of course, Indian dishes. Do take the effort to make the spice blend from scratch, it’s not a difficult one and you can store the extra in an airtight container for a few weeks.

I used mushrooms only because I found some great ones at the market but you can use just about any vegetable or meat for this one. I have tried it with chicken and the result was delicious.

6

Achari mushrooms would make a great starter. The fragrant and delicious spice blend flirts with the onions, aromatics and tomatoes to coat the mushrooms lovingly in a flavourful thick sauce. A squirt of lemon, the freshness of chopped coriander and a pinch of dry fenugreek leaves, all add to the delicious drama unfolding….

4

5

Adapted from a similar dish by Meera Jayaram.

Ingredients:

Achari spice blend:

1. 2 tbsp mustard seeds
2. 2 tbsp cumin seeds
3. 2 tbsp nigella seeds (kalonji)
4. 2 tbsp fennel seeds
5. 2 tsp fenugreek seeds
6. 1 tsp carrom seeds (ajwain)
7. 75 gms dry red chilli
8. 2 tsp dry mango powder (amchoor)

For the dish:

9. 500gms white button mushrooms; washed, dried and halved
10. 3 tbsp mustard oil
11. 1 red onion, chopped finely
12. 3 garlic cloves, chopped finely
13. 1 inch ginger, chopped finely
14. 1 large red tomato, blanched and pureed
15. ¼ tsp turmeric powder
16. 2 tsp Kashmiri red chilli powder
17. 1 tsp achari spice blend
18. ¼ tsp dry fenugreek leaves
19. Salt, to season
20. juice of ½ lemon
21. ½ cup chopped coriander leaves

Method:

• Dry roast all the spices except the red chillies and dry mango powder. Keep aside to cool. Roast the chillies separately taking care not to burn it. Cool and grind all the spices together. Mix in the dry mango powder and you have the achari spice blend.
• In a pan, heat oil and sauté the chopped onions. Add the garlic and ginger and sauté till the onions are softened and turn light brown.
• Meanwhile blanch and puree one tomato.
• To the onions, add turmeric, Kashmiri chilli and achari spice blend. Saute on low flame for a minute and add the tomato puree. Continue to cook on low flame till the puree thickens and the gravy comes together.
• Add the mushrooms and sauté for 2 minutes on high heat; season with salt. The mushrooms release a bit of water which helps to bring the dish together. Taste at this stage and adjust seasoning accordingly. Do not cook the mushrooms for too long; it should still have a bit to it when finished.
• Take off flame and add the fenugreek leaves, lemon and coriander leaves.
• Serve hot.

2

3

Adzuki Beans Curry with Kadai Spice Blend

Adzuki beans are small reddish beans commonly used in Japanese and Chinese cooking. In fact, the name ‘adzuki’ is of Japanese origin. In the East Asian cuisine, these red beans are common in sweets and desserts, often used as a paste or boiled with milk to make a reduction.

In India, dishes using adzuki beans can be commonly found in Punjab, Gujarat and Maharashtra. Referred to as Lal Chavali in Marathi which literally means red cowpea, chori in Gujarathi or ravaa’n in Punjabi, these beans are often used in chaats (Indian street food). I am not quite sure if there are other traditional dishes using these beans. If you know anything more about it, please do write to me and let me know.

I first came across adzuki beans at the local market; though the beans looked familiar to many others, I knew I had not cooked or tasted it before. So a pack of these came home with me and I have been trying out many dishes, especially Indian ones with these red beans.

1 (2)

Recently, I made a batch of the kadai spice blend which is commonly used to flavour Indian curries. And it suddenly struck me to combine this spice blend with the adzuki beans and come up with an Indian curry of sorts.

This adzuki bean curry is as Indian as it gets; the curry paste is prepared by caramelizing onions and aromatics to which tomatoes and finally the spice blend gets added. Just like any other lentil, it is best to soak these beans overnight and then cook the following day to reduce cooking times. And yes, if you have the Indian pressure cooker, life is bliss!

4

2

Like I mentioned, the kadai spice blend is quite common in North Indian cuisine and a regular feature in all restaurant menus. Quite a versatile blend incorporating the flavours of coriander, cumin, fennel, cardamom and bay leaf, this blend can be used in other Indian curries too, both vegetarian and non-vegetarian.

So, here is the method to prepare Indian style adzuki beans curry with kadai spice blend;

5

Ingredients:

1. 2 cups adzuki beans, soaked overnight
2. 2 red onions, finely chopped
3. 2 ripe red tomatoes, finely chopped
4. 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
5. 1 inch ginger, finely chopped
6. 1 tea bag
7. 5 sprigs coriander leaves, finely chopped
8. Salt, to taste
9. 2 tsp kadai spice blend
10. ½ tsp turmeric powder
11. 1 tsp red chilli powder
12. 3-4 tbsp vegetable oil

Kadai Spice Blend:

This makes around half a bottle of spice blend; store the excess in an airtight container.

1. 6 tbsp coriander seeds
2. 1 tbsp fennel seeds
3. 1 tbsp cumin seeds
4. 1 ½ tsp black peppercorns
5. 8 green cardamom
6. 2 black cardamom
7. 1 inch cinnamon stick
8. 2 dried bay leaf
9. 10 dry kashmiri red chillies

Method:

To prepare the spice blend:

1. Dry roast all the ingredients (and as always, take care not to burn). Cool and grind to a fine powder. When dry roasting spices, remove from the pan onto a parchment or baking paper after switching off flame. Never leave it in the same pan itself as the spices continue to roast in the residual heat.


To prepare the curry:

2. In a deep pan or pressure cooker, heat oil and add the onions, garlic and ginger. Saute till the onions have caramelized well.
3. Add the tomatoes and continue to cook till the tomatoes turn mushy.
4. Turn down the heat and add all the spices. Continue to cook for another 2 minutes.
5. Add the washed and soaked beans along with a tea bag (use an ordinary tea bag and not the flavoured ones). Adding the tea bag is optional; this is only to lend the deep dark colour to the dish and does not really add much flavour to the dish.
6. Season with salt and add 2 cups of water. Cook till the beans are done to the consistency you like.
7. Remove from heat and garnish with fresh coriander leaves.
8. Serve hot with rice or flat breads.

1

6

3

%d bloggers like this: