NEWSLETTER: Autumn 2012

March 01, 2012 posted in Newsletters

Type Casting your Spices

During the summer holidays, we were pondering on the dangers of type casting. We can all bring to mind actors who have played a certain part to such an extent that they have become that character and we can’t accept that they are capable of playing different roles. It occurred to us that the same pre-conceptions can be applied to spices and flavours. Why is it in Western cultures we allocate curries to winter, when in their countries of origin they are eaten and enjoyed year round, often in tropical countries that don’t have winter at all? We hope many of you enjoyed the Mulled Wine jellies featured in the summer newsletter – although traditionally a flavour connected to snowy winters, the cooling jelly is a fantastic and unexpected summer pleasure. (We allowed the wine to boil to reduce the alcohol content when making the jellies.)

Other spices that shouldn’t be type-cast include our fabulous Cajun Seasoning and good old Tasty Meat Sprinkle. Traditionally used for Cajun chicken or fish, we often reach for Cajun when we barbecue a steak, and mix it in to cream cheese for a tasty dip. Tasty Meat Sprinkle, great on any meat at all, is the perfect seasoning for potato wedges and roast vegetables, and vegetarians love it on pan-fried tofu cubes. Our cappuccino topping Spice Dust can be used in any sweet application; stir it through your yoghurt and sprinkle it over cut strawberries. Not to mention vanilla, that so-essential element in cakes and ice cream, that can take on a savoury role in a sauce for white meats. The ever-popular Chermoula, great on lamb and fish, takes on a new role when added to a scone mixture. Top the scone with hummus for a savoury treat. So take a fresh look at your spices, and don’t be afraid to cast them in a different role.

What’s New at Herbie’s?

Lentil and Dhal Spice

Inspired by our recent great eating experiences, and nudged along by many enquiries from customers, we have a brand new product for you to enjoy – a delicious Lentil and Dhal Spice, which will add an authentic Indian flavour to any kind of legume, be it chick peas, lentils, all kinds of dhal, cannellini beans or red kidney beans. That’s not to say you can’t pat it on a piece of chicken or other meat if you’re inclined (bearing in mind our comments about type casting, above)! The recipe on the pack is for a red kidney bean dish that is often encountered in Delhi, and we know you will love it. The 30 g pack (enough to make two meals for four) is priced at $4.20.

As well as the recipe on the pack, try this really quick and healthy, low GI lentil dish: Heat some oil and soften one chopped onion and a couple of cloves of garlic, chopped, over medium heat. Stir in a tablespoon of the Lentil and Dhal Spice, along with a can of chopped tomatoes and a can of brown lentils (drained). Add some chilli flakes for extra heat if you wish, and simmer for 5 minutes. Delicious! And how quick is that? If you prefer to cook your own lentils, soak a cup of brown lentils in 2½ cups of water and ½ teaspoon salt, bring to the boil and simmer about half an hour or until the lentils are tender and the water mostly absorbed.

2013 Spice Discovery Tour

January is a great month for us, as it is so often the time for a visit to India with a group of intrepid spice explorers. This year they were mostly “repeat offenders” who had been with us before, so we had a great time with old friends, visiting different places and experiencing “real” Indian food (as opposed to “international hotel” versions) in the many lovely heritage hotels we visited. Many of them are converted palaces, so it is easy to feel that one has been transported to an earlier era. Members of the group have returned with great memories, such as finding ourselves having dinner in the desert of Rajasthan, suddenly drenched by a downpour of very unexpected rain! We followed almost two weeks in very chilly conditions in India with a few days of basking in tropical warmth in Sri Lanka, where we visited elephants and cinnamon farms. For those who have enquired about the 2013 Spice Discovery Tour, we will try to have information on the website by April. If you have enquired by email over the past year, we shall send the information by email to you.

Asafoetida – Gluten Update

We told you in the summer newsletter about the change to asafoetida, now compounded with rice instead of wheat starch to avoid the gluten content. You might have wondered why this spice alone is mixed with a starch, so here’s the reason. Asafoetida is a sticky resin that oozes from cuts made in the base of the stem of a large, parsley-like plant. It forms into sappy clumps which are ground to make a powder, however the stickiness of the resin makes it very hard indeed to put through a grinder. Therefore a starch is added to take up the stickiness during the grinding process, allowing the resin to pass through the grinder.

Under Australian food laws, (unlike the laws in USA, EU and UK), even minute parts per million of gluten, if detected, have to be declared on the label. So asafoetida and the blends containing it, although now (virtually) gluten-free, (Chaat Masala, Sambar mix, and our new Lentil & Dhal Spice) may carry the statement “may contain traces of gluten due to manufacturing practices.” This is because, before reaching us, asafoetida is processed on the same equipment as products containing wheat

Australian Made?

We adhere strictly to Australian food laws, (including stating when product is sourced from overseas) which is one of the reasons you trust us. There is an Australian company claiming proudly to sell “magnificent Australian-grown foods”, yet their products contain spices that we know beyond a doubt are not grown in this country. We are content to tell you honestly that we are completely Australian-owned, providing jobs in Australia for Australians, using the best spices we can find from around the world.

And on that note, Happy Spicing!

Herbie and Liz

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