NEWSLETTER: October – November 1998

October 01, 1998 posted in Newsletters

We’ve had a suggestion that we should give a little more guidance on how to use some of the spices, so we’ll keep that in mind and try to include a few in each Newsletter.

Spicy Delema – a Guide

There’s a little confusion about cinnamon and cassia – how they are similar, and what makes them different. Botanically, they are “cousins”, with the cinnamon coming mostly from Sri Lanka and cassia from China. Cinnamon bark from mature trees is ground to make a dark, fairly rough cinnamon most likely to be used in savoury applications, while cinnamon quills are curls of the underneath layer of bark from young branches, which are used whole or ground in cakes and stewed fruits. Cassia bark is sometimes available as a blackish, flat piece about the size of a band-aid, although the better quality cassia looks similar to a curl of cinnamon quills, but thicker and harder. When it is ground, cassia has a highly fragrant cinnamon aroma which makes it the baker’s choice for things like cinnamon donuts, spiced fruit buns and sweet breads. It’s quite logical, then, that other names for cassia are Saigon cinnamon and baker’s cinnamon. If you buy Cinnamon Sugar from the supermarket, you have a 50-50 chance of getting Cassia Sugar instead!

India, Spice and the Moghuls

The continent whose cuisine depends more on spices than any other is probably India. The commonly used foods vary from region to region: in the tropical south, fish, coconut and bananas abound, while in the fertile Bengal regions, grains, tomatoes and other vegetables are plentiful. Southern dishes are often hot with fresh ginger and pepper, and the food of the Andhra region is spicy and hot with chillies, while food in the north is generally said to be milder, with a more complex blend of the seed spices, and a more judicious use of heat. However, throughout India, the most commonly used spices – mustard seeds, chillies, cumin, asafoetida, curry leaves, cinnamon, turmeric, cardamom – remain fairly consistent.

Moghul food refers not so much to any particular area of India as to the food of the conquering Moghuls or Mongols, who came from Persia in 1526 and founded a powerful dynasty whose courts throughout the north and centre of India brought about a melding of Hindu and Persian cuisines. As a show of wealth and sophistication, the meals created for the Moghuls and their guests often contained expensive nuts, chicken, saffron, cream and yoghurt unavailable to the common people. Aromatic spices such as cardamom, fennel seed and cinnamon were used with rose water, almonds and dried fruits to make sumptuous, extravagant rice and meat dishes.


We currently have in stock a two fascinating books about Indian cuisines, Bengali Cooking – Seasons and Festivals by Chitrita Banerji ($22.95), which divides the culinary year into seasons and provides a wonderful window to the way of life in this area, and Moghul Cooking – India’s Courtly Cuisine by Joyce Westrip ($29.95). Either or both can be ordered at a cost of $5.00 postage and packing – or $3.00 postage if the order is in conjunction with an order for spices.

New Hours!

We’re making a change as we go into our second summer. Our hours are now 10.00am to 6.00pm Monday to Friday, and still 9.00am to 4.00pm on Saturday. We hope that it will now be convenient for some of our customers to call in on the way home from work.

Gift Kits – The perfect present

We’ve been reviewing and revamping our spice Gift Kits in time for Christmas. New to the range in a luscious aqua box is the “Sea Foodie”

Gift Kit with some favourite seafood recipes and spices for the summer. Recipes include a fabulous authentic fish stew from Kuwait, as well as Lyndey Milan’s classy Bream with Cumin and Harissa, and a tasty, easy-as-pie redfish curry. Others in the range are: · True Blue Aussie Kit – an all Australian kit in a natural drought-coloured box, with easy recipes. A popular gift to send back to the Old Country … or any country you like!

  • Moroccan Kit – same exotic purple box and Moroccan spices, with good fail-safe recipes.
  • Indian Summer Kit – the perennial favourite with great recipes, in thewarm and summery orange box.
  • Hot and Spicy Kit – one for the dedicated chilli freak, in a sizzling red box.
  • Vegetarian Kit – a canary-yellow box full of spices and non-meatr ecipes.
  • Comfort Food – a cosy green box with yummy feel-good recipes and the spices to match.

All the kits are $24.95 plus $5.00 postage and packing, and can be sent anywhere you like with your message in a gift card direct from Herbie’s. We can attach a phytosanitary declaration to smooth the way for kits going overseas.

What New at Herbie’s?

What’s new at Herbie’s? We have finally developed a Laksa Spice Blend, and it’s so quick and easy we use it all the time! The recipe is on the pack, so that you can assemble it by simply having a few fresh ingredients and the all-essential coconut milk. The laksa recipe calls for Shrimp Powder, so if you don’t already have some in your pantry, you’ll need to order some when you order the Laksa. There’s been demand for genuine smoked paprika, and we now have Sweet Smoked Paprika and Hot Smoked Paprika from the La Vera region of Spain.

A Rather Grey Matter – Black Pepper

You might wonder why ground black pepper is grey rather then black.Here’s the reason – get a sharp knife and carefully cut a blackpeppercorn in half, and you’ll see it’s white in the middle, with a black outer shell. Now if you grind something that’s mostly white, it can’t make a black powder! Very dark ground pepper is often the result of cheap hollow shells (called “light berries” in the trade), and it doesn’t have much flavour. Maybe the reason so many recipes call for “freshly ground black pepper” is that there have been too many experiences of very black, flavourless ground pepper. Good quality ground black pepper should be used with the same confidence we have when using ground cardamom, fenugreek, cinnamon, or any other spices. Add good quality ground black pepper to a spice mixture and enjoy the difference!

As usual, an updated order form is included with your Newsletter.

Unfortunately, some prices have had another climb, due in some cases to scarcity of good product, caused in part by droughts and bushfires in SE Asia, floods in China, and a crop failure in South Australia.

Indian Trip

We’re getting excited about the trip to India (22nd January to 4th February next year), and bookings are looking good. If you’d like to do the trip with us, phone your enquiry to our travel agent, Ossie Pitts, on (02) 9438 3033.

Meanwhile, have a spicy Spring season!

Herbie and Liz

Explore All

Meal Ideas for Isolation

We thought that in these unprecedented times, it would be appropriate to share some handy meal ideas to ease the stress of isolation and potentially limited food sources. Having to self-isolate creates an opportunity to brush up your cooking skills and have some fun experimenting with some flavours you may not have tried before. Let’s face it, everyone can cook. Have you ever grilled

Spices and Spice Blends for Vegetarian and Vegan Cooking

In this short video, Ian "Herbie" Hemphill talks about how Herbie's Spices, herbs and spice blends are all suitable for vegetarian and vegan cooking. A great spice blend for vegan meals is Aloo Gobi Masala. All ingredients are listed on the labels, so you know exactly what you are getting. For a wealth of information on spices, herbs and making your own spice blends,

Herbie’s Newsletter Summer 2019 – 2020

We’re all in accord about single-use plastics. Having seen huge drifts of plastic in the pristine seas off the Indonesian islands, we know just how important it is to get rid of those shopping bags, plastic wraps and sandwich bags. When one gets emotional about bad plastics, it’s easy to begin to demonize all plastics, and perhaps it’s timely to repeat this message from our Newsletter of some years ago.


Spices & More in South India Jan-Feb 2020

We invite you to join us, Herbie and Liz, as we return to our beloved India to take you to some places where many tourists don’t go! And some amazing places that you just can’t miss. This is designed as a holiday, not an endurance test, and we have made the itinerary a little more leisurely than some earlier tours, so that you arrive home refreshed and well. Be a part of our small group and join the fun!


Herbie’s Newsletter Spring 2019

What kind of meal do you think of when you hear the word “curry”?  The origin of our English word is Kari, meaning a spiced sauce.  The English took the idea back home from the colonies, and the classic Madras curry – well-balanced and flavoursome - became a staple in the English household.  The French, meanwhile, had colonized the Pondicherry area on the south-eastern

Newsletter Winter 2019

What is Single Origin? We see it emblazoned on tea, coffee, spices and other foodstuffs.  It’s pretty simple really.  If all your potatoes have been grown in the Hunter Valley, they are single origin from that region – they don’t all have to come from the same farm. If, say, a coffee blender buys beans from Africa and South America, and mixes them all

Easter Spice Essentials

With Easter just around the corner, it’s time to think about the spices you’ll need for your Easter recipes. For all those sweet recipes such as cakes, biscuits and hot cross buns, cinnamon, allspice, cloves and cardamom are traditional, along with Mixed Spice. For extra fragrance and flavour, try using our Fragrant Sweet Spice Blend as an aromatic substitute. Easter is a great time

Herbie’s Newsletter – Spring 2021

Home Made Pizza Like so many Australians, we have had plenty of lock-down time during winter.  Our fabulous local pizzeria closed for a time, and we had to make our own pizza – not so difficult, really.  Here’s a simple dough recipe: mix 400g white bread flour with 1½ teaspoons of dry yeast and 1 teaspoon Italian Herbs.  Dissolve ½ teaspoon of salt in

Welcome to our New Website

The first thing you will notice is that this website looks quite different to the one you may be used to. In response to the many questions we have received from our customers over the years, we have built in many new features that will enhance your shopping experience. While navigating the site is intuitive, we've described some of the many new features here.

Herbie’s Spices Newsletter – Winter 2021

Following through on our gradual revision of the Spice Kits, we’ve had a look at the Al Fresco kit.  At our place, outdoor meals often include big sharing platters, which enable those who are hungry to really dig in, and those with bird-like appetites to pick gently at morsels, without any embarrassment about how much is put on, or left on, the plate.  So we’ve

Black Pepper Beef Recipe at Spice Village, Kumily, Kerala, India

Braised Black Pepper Beef, with Chef Manoj at Spice Village, Kumily, Kerala, India Serves 4-6 1kg beef tenderloin, trimmed Masala Marinade 1 tablespoon extra virgin coconut oil ½ cup grated fresh coconut 2 shallots, peeled and sliced 2 teaspoons coriander seeds 5 small dried red chillies, seeds removed and chopped 3 sprigs curry leaves 1 tablespoon crushed black pepper Braising Curry Sauce 1 tablespoon extra virgin coconut

Herbie’s Spices Newsletter – Autumn 2021

We trust that you have all survived Australia’s quiet introduction to the new year. Isn’t it wonderful that, in times of trial and frustration, cooking, eating and sharing bring such consolation? For those of us separated from our loved ones by insurmountable obstacles, we can be encouraged by improving conditions this year.


Herbie makes Avial (South Indian Vegetable Curry) in South India

Herbie loves being in South India, the food and the people. In this video he makes Avial (a South Indian Vegetable Curry). Making lightly spiced meals is one of life’s great pleasures, made all the simpler with our Herbie’s Spices all-natural spice blends.


Herbie’s Newsletter Summer 2020-2021

A world-wide annus horribilis is drawing to a close, and all we want for Christmas is a better year ahead. For many, time spent in confinement has been a time for reflection, communicating with loved ones, and cooking up a storm.


Herbie Makes a Curry in Kumily

In this video, following a short elephant ride, I have the audacity to show my Indian friends at Spice Village how I make my Saturday Curry!


Herbie’s Newsletter Spring 2020

Rose Harrisa Mackerel Spring is a time always associated with flowers.  Cauliflowers, broccoli and broccolini, even cabbage and kale, are all flowers, and it occurred to us that one could make a culinary bouquet by adding rose harissa to these flowers.  We started the experiment with rose harissa sprinkled on cauliflower cheese, then progressed to rose harissa stir-fried with broccolini, and broccoli florets tossed with rose

Why Herbie is Obsessed with Spices

During this time when many of us are isolated, either voluntarily or forced, I thought it would be a good idea to share some of the things I cover at the beginning of a Spice Appreciation Class. As classes are off now, here goes a virtual communication! People often ask why I am so obsessed with spices. This video explains where it all started,

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