Tag Archive: South India




    Julie’s Place is very excited to announce a wonderful long lunch with herb and spice guru, Ian “Herbie” Hemphill.
    Ian, author of “Spice & Herb Bible 3rd Edition”, among other respected books, will take you on a journey through the Indian sub-continent to learn about and experience their use of spices. And while he does, Julie Goodwin will cook for you the dishes that bring the stories to life. The lunch will consist of multiple delectable courses with wines.
    Don’t miss out on this incredible opportunity to experience a journey through the world of spice with a peerless expert. And a beautiful lunch as well!

  2. Gunpowder Spice Blend

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    During Herbie & Liz’s recent visit to India, they were delighted to see many of the restaurants including a dish of Gunpowder Spice along with the chutneys and other condiments.

    Herbie wasted no time in talking to the chefs about this blend that seemed to be all the rage. Although most were a little cagey about revealing all the ingredients and their proportions, Herbie was obsessed with creating his own version on returning to Australia.


    So, with the flavour and aroma of gunpowder firmly locked into his smell memory, he created a blend using the following ingredients:  Kashmiri chilli powder, ground coriander seeds, besan (chickpea flour), ground ginger, ground black peppercorns, South Australian sea salt, amchur (green mango powder), and that most unusual of ingredients found in many exotic Indian recipes; dagar phool.

    The result: A must have spicy heat hit, that is as much about exceptional taste as well as a pleasing chilli bite that Herbie rates at about 9 out of 10.

    As well as sprinkling on cooked food, Gunpowder can be used as a seasoning before cooking on just about anything, from red meats to chicken and seafood. Liz developed this quick and easy recipe that is great when entertaining.


    18-20 cooked king prawns
    1/2 cup Greek yoghurt
    1 clove garlic crushed
    1 teaspoon lemon juice
    1 teaspoon Gunpowder Spice Blend
    Salt to taste

    Dipping SauceCombine Greek yoghurt with crushed garlic, lemon juice and Gunpowder
    Cover and refrigerate dipping sauce for at least an hour for flavours to combine.

    Serve prawns with dipping sauce.

    Serves 3-4



  3. What is Dagar Phool?

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    What would you think if we told you we’d come across a lichen traditionally used in the Chettinad region of Tamil Nadu in South India, and that we simply love it?


    What we are referring to is the lichen known as Dagar Phool, or Dagarful (Parmotrema perlatum) which has an incredible flavour enhancing effect when added to dishes during cooking. It is also referred to as Black Stone Flower (phool is Hindi for flower) and Kalpasi.


    Our interest in Dagar Phool was first roused when a chef from an Indian restaurant in Sydney asked us if we knew where we could get it. To spike our intrigue, he said it contributed a flavour like nothing else.


    Then, not long ago Rick Stein used Dagar Phool in a Chicken Chettinad recipe on his Indian TV series. On a recent trip to India we harassed our suppliers until we found a reliable supply, and then the good folks at Australian Quarantine told us what hoops we had to jump through, to import it into Australia.


    We then made Chicken Chettinad and were immediately blown away by the extraordinary taste and aroma contributed by the Dagar Phool. Further experimenting showed us just how much it compliments most curries, and surprisingly how well it went with fried mushrooms!


    Dagar Phool has very little aroma, and if you taste a little piece it is slightly woody, bitter and cinnamon-like. However it is as a flavour enhancer that it really comes into its own. The only, and terribly unscientific, explanation we have for this, is that it is relatively high in Stictic Acid, an organic compound found in some lichens. Besides research conducted into the anti-cancer effect of stictic acid we have not come across any data that explains this amazing flavour effect when combined with savoury ingredients.


    Our favourite way to use Dagar Phool is in this simple Marathi Mushrooms recipe:



    8-10 medium size mushrooms

    12 green beans cut to 2cm lengths

    1 Tbs ghee or oil

    1 clove garlic chopped

    1 tsp Herbie’s Spices Garam Masala

    1 tsp Dagar Phool finely chopped

    1/4 tsp salt

    1/4 cup water

    1 Tbs plain yoghurt

    Heat ghee in pan, add garlic, stir 1 minute.

    Add garam masala, dagar phool, salt, mushrooms, beans, salt and water.

    Cover and cook over low heat approx 8 minutes until beans are cooked.

    Stir in yoghurt and reheat before serving.



  4. Know Your Cardamoms

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    Cardamom is featured in many recipes, however are you using the right one?

    Cardamom GreenGreen Cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum) is the most common and we refer to it as your ‘default’ cardamom when a recipe simply calls for ‘cardamom’.

    Green cardamom is native to the mountain ranges of the south western Indian state of Kerala, known as the western ghats, (ghat being the name given to steep hills, a derivation of the word ‘ghats’ which means ‘steps’), In this tropical paradise, cardamom is referred to as the “Queen of Spices.” It thrives in the shady monsoon forests one sees enveloped in soft morning mists at altitudes over 3,300 feet (1,000 m) above sea level. Cardamom is also native to Sri Lanka (Elettaria ensal) and up until the 19th century both varieties were harvested in India and Sri Lanka from wild plants in the rainforests, orderly cultivation only really taking place in the 20th century.


    CARDAMOM SEED GREEN WHOLE 25gCardamom Seeds are collected when the papery husk of a green cardamom pod is broken open, three seed segments, each containing three to four brown-black, oily, pungent seeds, are revealed. The taste of the seeds is warm, camphorous and eucalypt-like, pleasantly astringent and refreshing on the palate.

    Green cardamom is a versatile and useful spice, being equally complementary to sweet and savory foods. Although it is a pungent spice and should be added to dishes sparingly, the fresh top flavor notes in green cardamom make a zestful addition to a wide range of meals. Traditionally, cardamom has been used to flavour Danish pastries, cakes, biscuits and fruit dishes. The Indians include it in many curries, and we love to use cardamom to add a note of brilliance to Moroccan tagines.


    CARDAMOM SEED GREEN GROUND 25gGround Cardamom should only ever be made by grinding the seeds and not the papery husk.

    An old spice trader’s trick is to grind old cardamom pods that have lost their colour and much flavour. By grinding the papery almost tasteless husk without removing the seeds increases the profit on selling ground cardamom!





    CARDAMOM PODS BROWN INDIAN 20gBrown or Black Cardamom Pods (Amomum cardamomum) have a completely different flavour to green cardamom and are not used a a substitute for green cardamom. Brown cardamom has a distinct smokey note, and although many authors say it is inferior to green cardamom, this variety adds a wonderful smokey depth of flavour to curries and butter chicken recipes. Add the pods whole and remove them at the end of cooking.






    Chinese Cardamom Pods (Amomum globosum) are different again, although somewhat similar to Indian brown cardamom. These are less smokey and have a more medicinal flavour profile.

    Chinese brown cardamom pods are used with other pungent spices such as cloves, star anise, pepper and chilli. Fennel seeds are often used with these spices to tone them down a bit and make the final result more agreeable.



    Spice & Herb Bible 3rd Edition with over 120 new recipes by Herbie's daughter Kate.For more information about cardamom and many other spices, see The Spice & Herb Bible 3rd Edition