Don’t you just wonder how a certain dish would taste when the only spices added are a pinch of salt and a dash of pepper? Bland, I’d like to think. Well, allow me to show you how to make magic with different spices that are bound to rock your taste buds!!!
I am a Yoruba girl at heart and I sure do love my peppers!!! I used to add A LOT of pepper to my dish and it always ended up drowning out the other delicious flavors I would’ve loved to enjoy. So if you’re not going for a World Class Pepper Fest, try not to infuse too much of it in your dishes my Pepper Lovers.
That said, there is such a good variety of pepper out there. We have White, Cayenne, Black, Whole, Jalapeno and Chili Pepper (Paprika). So no my dear, it’s not only the red pepper we see in Nigerian markets that are out there even though that is still my all time fave. No wait, I think it’s Cameroun pepper. This one is awesome for Nigerian soups particularly Edikan Ikong or Afang. Try a few out in absolutely any dish and you won’t be sorry!
Well, technically herbs aren’t spices because they are the leafy green part of a plant while spices are from every other part. But for the purpose of this blog post, I proclaim it a spice!
Personally I love the kind of ‘earthy’ aroma they give to dishes. Plus they serve as beautiful garnishes when presenting the dish. They are excellent for chicken, pasta and stir fry.We have the fresh herbs and the already packaged ones. I recommend the fresh ones because the packaged ones have a darker green color and are already chopped up a bit too finely in the processing compared to the bright green of the fresh ones that you can chop up into your own desired size. But only buy fresh when you know you’re using it within a few days if not you’d lose the fresh scent. No fear, the packaged ones also give you the warm earthy aroma you’d like. Bay leaves are different because you have to discard the leaves after boiling with chicken or rice. The boiling process sucks out the flavour into the food and it’s job is done!
Other examples of herbs: Cilantro, Basil, Parsley, Thyme, Coriander, Rosemary, Mint leaves, Lemon grass, Chives…the list is endless!! Go crazy with it!
Hol’up Hol’up! Before you relate garlic to only warding off vampires and skip to the next spice, give me a chance to change your views. I was actually a strong anti-garlic fan until quite recently. One of my secondary school teachers used to EAT garlic like ‘Digestive biscuits’ on a regular. And the thing about garlic is that it is also expelled from our bodies in our sweat when eaten in copious amount. So you can imagine the pungent odor that I had to perceive every time Mrs X who apparently isn’t a believer in deodorants and perfumes, walked by. I almost swore never to taste garlic in my life. Clearly that didn’t happen.
Garlic is great for chicken and beef dishes especially when used as marinade. It gives the dish a nice strong taste that blends well with the natural chicken flavor. Two cloves is an adequate amount to use when cooking for at least 4 servings of chicken or beef. There is also the powdered form sold and one fourth of a teaspoon of that would do for the same serving. We don’t want to be like Mrs X now do we?
Ever tried any Indian dish? There’s a good chance Cumin was involved. I must say this spice has a sort of acquired taste. You might find it oddly different on your first try but give it time, it will grow on you! Cumin has a very distinct taste giving a kind of spicy pang to the dish. I have tried it with chicken and stir fry and I only loved it on the second try. I have only cooked with the powdered form as there is also the seed form. Either ways I believe cumin is great to try if you’re up for a completely different taste bud experience.
Remember, the secret to being a Master or Mistress of Spices is adding them in small amounts. Don’t overdose your dish. You have learnt well young grasshopper. *takes a bow*. Now go and be your own Sensei.