We were chatting with a taxi driver (as you do) the other day. He was from Delhi, and we talked about food – spices in particular – and quality. His view is this: cheap spices give you pleasure once – when you pay for them – but only disappointment in the cooking and eating; good spices give you disappointment once – when you pay for them – but it’s pleasure all the way after that. We trust that it’s a view shared by most of us, with all sorts of food!
We have been taking groups to India almost every year since 1999, and it would be true to say that we feel very much at home when we are there. But we must stress, we are not in the travel business! If you are planning a visit to India, please don’t come to us for accommodation and sight-seeing advice … that’s what your travel agent is for. Many of our contacts in India see us only because we are in the trade, and they are not available for visits from the independent tourist.
And speaking of India, we’ve been researching a new 17-day itinerary for our Herbie’s Alumni (Repeat Offenders’) tour in January 2012. What can we say but – exciting, stunning, stimulating and delicious! We’ll cover ground from the far west of northern India to the tea plantations and cinnamon farms of tropical Sri Lanka.
Our ever-popular Spice Appreciation classes and workshops are scheduled in for 2012, and you can find the dates on the website, or we can post you a printed version if you phone us to request one. Herbie is out of town in March, doing classes at Cleanskin Kitchenware at Cowes on Phillip Island on the 12th and 13th.March. Call them on (03) 5952 3494 if you’re keen to attend. Then he’s in Brisbane at Black Pearl Epicure on 10th April, and you can phone (07) 3257 2144 to learn more.
Our Pork Spice was originally created to meet the import requirements of a UK retailer, and we were restricted in what ingredients we could use. Having never had to compromise before when making a blend, we felt that the final result, while adequate for its original purpose, was not as good as it could be. So we now offer you a revitalized, reborn Pork Spice that will bring a smile to your taste buds. Try it and see for yourself how delicious it is!
Have you ever encountered a recipe that calls for Loomi? It’s the name for powdered black limes, used in areas like Iran, Syria and Turkey. While we’ve had black limes available for you for many years, we have only recently begun grinding them so that we can offer a fantastically aromatic, freshly-ground black lime powder for all your Middle Eastern cooking, at $6.20 for a 30 gram pack.
To take advantage of the new black lime powder, we have also created a new blend that we’ve called Shish Kebab Spice – a tasty mixture of cumin, paprika, turmeric, pepper and black lime powder (loomi), with fresh notes of cardamom, onion, parsley and mint. It is just perfect for all sorts of meatballs, fish or lamb kebabs, or even for grills. It’s available in a 40 gram pack for $5.70.
Lamb Shish Kebabs – for Two
Place meat in a bowl and mix lemon juice and Shish Kebab Spice through. Leave to stand for 15 minutes. Heat grill and cook capsicum pieces until they have softened, then cut to approx 3 cm square. Thread meat, capsicum and onion onto metal skewers and cook on a hot barbecue with the lid down, about 10 minutes, turning occasionally. Toss leftover pieces of onion on too. Serve with couscous and salad.
The beautiful new spice grinder at our factory has also been busy grinding porcini mushrooms, for all of those who have asked for porcini powder. You can now obtain a 15 gram pack for $6.50 so that you can add that amazing umami-type flavour to everything from stocks and soups to risotto, pasta sauce, and casseroles.
We were recently inspired to make a vindaloo curry, but found ourselves with no pack of Herbie’s Vindaloo curry powder in the pantry. Undeterred, we made the curry from scratch: grinding spices, making pastes, and generally making a great old mess in the kitchen. We’re pleased to report that the result was delicious, but we couldn’t really see that all the effort produced a better result than the Herbie’s Vindaloo we usually make. It’s good to put the spice blends to the test occasionally and remind ourselves that they really do what they promise, with a minimum of fuss.
Guntur is a town in India that is not usually on the tourist route, but we visited in January this year to see one of the largest chilli markets in India. Covering about 15 acres, it consists of many rows of roofed, open-sided “warehouses” where dried chillies are brought in bags to be traded 6 days a week. On Sundays, although there are no trading activities, one can see large areas of red chillies spread out to a depth of 10-20 cm – these are the chillies that didn’t find a buyer because they were still too moist, so the extra day of drying may bring a buyer in the coming week. If you’d like to see what it was like, you can check it out by going to Herbies TV on the homepage of our website, clicking on the arrow, and selecting “Guntur Chilli Market”.
We trust your spice supplies have survived flood, cyclone and bushfire. Happy spicing!
Ian & Liz