Spices are one of the easiest things to add to a dish for flavor. The chefs from Local Organic Meals on a Budget classes last season introduced us to some interesting spices like cardamon, fennel, star anise and more. Spices can take you to different parts of the world like Asia, Northern Africa, Mediterranean and India with the same vegetables and meat ingredients.
Buying spices is easy in Santa Fe. There are a few speciality shops like Ziggy’s International Market on Cerrillos or The Spice Lady on Cordova that sell international spices and ingredients. The Spice Lady also sells dried spices in bulk so that you can try a smaller amount. The Coop and Whole Foods Grocery Stores sell spices in bulk as well. Buying in bulk allows you to buy a small amount for a recipe or try a spice with your family. One of the best deals for spices is at Natural Grocers on Cerrillos. They have a huge selection and some of the harder ones to find.
Storing spices should be in a sealed container. Small glass canning jars work the best. Try to buy the seed or whole spice so that it will last longer than the dried powder. If the spice is whole, it can also be toasted in a dry pan for a few minutes to bring out the aroma and flavor in your kitchen.
Once you have the whole spices that you enjoy, you can make spice mixes with a coffee grinder or mortal and pestel. Many cookbooks will list spice blends for the recipe. Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything devotes a chapter to spices and sauces. I made four spice blends over the weekend to be ready for cooking. Here is one of my favorites that can be used with meats, lentils and vegetables.
Hot Curry Powder
From How to Cook Everything
2 small chiles
1 tblsp black peppercorns (you can use white to make it less spicy)
1 tblsp coriander seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp fenegreek (I found at Natural Grocers)
1 tblsp ground tumeric
1 tblsp ground ginger
Cayenne, if needed. Test your mix first.
Amy Hetager, Local Organic Meals on a Budget Blogger