NEWSLETTER: Winter 2012

June 01, 2012 posted in Newsletters

Winter Foods

What a pleasure to have the prospect of winter, and relief from the sticky humidity that so many of us have experienced during summer. At last we can indulge in comfort foods, slow-cooked treats, and hearty soups. Taking a slightly sub-continental slant, the Delhi Dhal recipe on the back of our new and very popular Lentil and Dhal Spice certainly rates as a comfort food, and with the addition of more crushed tomatoes and more liquid, makes a delicious full-bodied soup. The classic Indian rice dish, Biryani, with protein, rice and vegetables all in one dish, also falls into that category – see the good news below.

What’s New at Herbie’s?

Biryani Mix

Okay, okay, we admit we were wrong – partly, anyway. Through all the years that customers have asked for a biryani mix, we have maintained our belief that for a true, classic biryani there are more spices needed, at different stages of preparation, than can be put into a single blend. But we’ve listened to what you want, and for a quick, everyday biryani for the family, there is now a delicious spice blend to make it easy for you. Make it using chicken, lamb, vegetables or hard-boiled eggs – it works whichever preference you follow. The 40g pack is enough for two meals serving 4-6, and the price is $4.70.

Everyone tells us that they love the recipes on the backs of our packs, and in many cases the recipes fall easily into place with very little tweaking. The recipe for the biryani, however, took us many tries before finally meeting with our approval. We tried to make it a one-step, all-in-the-saucepan, meal but kept ending up with a rice dish with the consistency of a risotto. If you like it like that, go ahead and simply add the rice and liquid to your meat and cook it all on the stove top. Our preference is for a drier rice consistency, with each grain separating easily from the next, and for this it really has to go into the oven after being part-cooked in a saucepan. Go on, go the extra step, and you’ll agree with us that it’s worth it.

2013 Spice Discovery Tour to India

Bookings are coming in for our 2013 Spice Discovery Tour to India, scheduled for next January. This will be a very special trip for us, as it will be our swansong – the last of many Spice Discovery Tours to our much-loved India. Over the last 15 years, we have enjoyed the company of many wonderful travellers, and have made lasting friendships which have enriched our lives. Now we feel the time has come to apply ourselves to exploring other parts of India, and discovering new countries, cultures and foods, without the yearly commitment to a spice tour.

Indonesian Spice Islands

Being in the spice business, one of our huge pleasures is travelling to the interesting areas of the world where spices originate – such fascinating places as Bhutan, Vietnam, Zanzibar, Egypt and Mexico. In November this year we are planning to visit the Indonesian Spice Islands, and although this is not a Herbie’s Spice Discovery Tour, we thought we would share the details with you. If the prospect of twelve days sailing on a 12-cabin ketch around the islands of Ambon, Banda and Ternate, exploring the origins of the clove, nutmeg and mace trade, appeals to you, visit www.seatrekbali.com to see details. Our friend Ian Burnett, historian and author of Spice Islands, will also be on board, and we know it will be an amazing experience. We’ll be revisiting our old favourite spice blends, Rendang and Nasi Goreng, and stocking up on candle nuts, cloves, galangal, long pepper, kenchur and other distinctly south-east Asian ingredients, as we prepare our taste buds for delicious Indonesian food.

Spice Tonic

We have always maintained a very strict line between spices for flavouring delicious food and spices for health. The medicinal use of spices is something to be undertaken only after many years of study, and we have never professed to have expertise on the medicinal benefits of spices. However, we would have to be blind and deaf to be unaware of the results of medical research coming out in recent years; spices such as cinnamon, ginger, turmeric and pepper have been hailed for various digestive, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, and anti-oxidant properties. As Herbie’s skill lies is sensitive blending, he has made a blend containing turmeric, cinnamon, cassia, cloves, ginger, cardamom, lemon myrtle, pepper, beetroot powder and paprika … we call it Herbie’s Spice Tonic – Friendly Spices for Wellbeing. We stir up to a teaspoonful into our orange juice or yoghurt every morning and it’s perfectly palatable, – we figure it can’t do us any harm, and might even help us live to be 120! It’s now available for everyone, in a 40g pack and, for convenience, in a large 100g jar for you to refill as you need. As an experiment, we dusted the Spice Tonic over chicken tenderloins and pan-fried them, and were delighted with the sweet/savoury result which inspired the Moroccan Chicken Bastilla recipe on the back of the pack.

Packaging and the Environment

We are proud of the exceptional storage qualities of our high-barrier laminate plastic bags, however from time to time we agonize over the eco-friendliness (or not) of our plastic packaging. We found it interesting that another food company has thoroughly researched the glass-versus-laminate question. Put briefly, the Life Cycle Assessment conducted at RMIT University found that their non-recyclable pouch uses less non-renewable energy and less water to produce, and emits less CO2 equivalents over its entire life cycle than a glass jar. They also pointed out that nearly half of Australia’s recyclable glass is not recycled in Australia, so the environmental effects of shipping the glass out of the country needs to be taken into account as well. We feel better knowing that we can do our best for you and not overburden our environment.

Happy Spicing!

Herbie and Liz

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