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

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Spices and Spice Blends for Vegetarian and Vegan Cooking

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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

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Peppercorns – What’s Your Favourite?

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Nigella – ‘The Spice That is’!

Cooks are discovering a culinary seed spice that believe it or not has been ubiquitous for many years. Those little black seeds we see on Turkish bread, are more often than not nigella seeds! The nigella of culinary use is an erect annual, a member of the buttercup family and close relative to the decorative plant that is known as ‘love-in-a-mist’ (N. damascena). Nigella


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

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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.

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