It’s Day 14 — you still with me? Now that we’re two weeks into the Whole30®, your palate’s probably craving some variety — and there’s no better way to keep things lively than with fragrant, flavorful spices and blends.
I love buying spice blends from specialty stores like Penzeys Spices and Spice Hound. Every time I visit my local Penzeys, I get lost in the intoxicating scents of the seasonings on the shelves.
I know I’m not alone. I mean, people STARTED WARS and DISCOVERED CONTINENTS over spices. They even write love notes to spices.
Sadly, spice blends aren’t cheap or easily accessible to everyone. You can easily drop a small fortune on little jars of powder — provided you can even find a specialty seller that offers the uniquely tantalizing combinations of spices you’re seeking.
So what’s the best way to maximize flavor while minimizing cost?
Grind your own spice blends!
You’ll get the benefit of the freshest, most intensely-flavored seasonings — and you’ll extend the shelf lives of your blends, too. Spices start to lose their complexity a few months after they’re first ground, but the spices on grocery store shelves may have been ground a year or more ago. Plus, spices are a lot cheaper if you buy ‘em whole — especially from your local Middle Eastern or Asian market.
Yes, you’ll need to get yourself a spice grinder. (Don’t even think of grinding spices in your coffee grinder — you’ll end up with janky-tasting coffee and spices. I don’t know about you, but curry-flavored coffee isn’t my idea of a good time.) But electric grinders aren’t expensive (unless you insist on buying a top-of-the-line burr grinder.) Trust me: If you’re a fan of spices, you’ll save money in the long run by making your own blends.
Itchin’ to try blending your own spices? Here are a few fantastic combinations that you owe it to yourself to try:
My contribution to this list is tabil (pronounced “table”) — a potent, versatile Tunisian spice blend made of coriander and caraway seeds, chili flakes, and garlic.
The very first time I tried it, I was hooked, and started throwing this smoky, zippy blend on everything from grilled meats to roasted vegetables. With this blend in your pantry, you’ll have no excuses for turning out blah meals.
This recipe makes ⅓ cup of tabil, and takes just 10 minutes.
Here’s what you need:
- ⅓ cup coriander seeds
- 1 tablespoon caraway seeds
- 1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
Here’s what you do:
Toast the coriander seeds, caraway seeds, and pepper flakes in a dry skillet over medium heat until fragrant (about 2 minutes).
Transfer the spices to a container to cool slightly.
While the mixture is still warm, add the garlic powder and mix well.
Once the mixture has cooled to room temperature, blitz it in a spice grinder.
The result should be a fine, fragrant powder. Stick your nose in there and smell the tabil. SMELL IT! (But unplug the grinder first so you don’t lose your schnozzle.)
Store the tabil in a sealed container and stick it in a cool, dark, dry place, and it’ll last for a long, long time.
You can use tabil as a seasoning or dry rub for meats and vegetables. Need some ideas? Try my Tabil Seasoned Sautéed Shrimp or Easy Broiled Tabil Seasoned Mini Beef Patties.
Wow. My early recipes sure had looooong names.
Looking for more recipe ideas? Head on over to my Recipe Index. You’ll also find exclusive recipes on my iPad® app, and in my cookbook, Nom Nom Paleo: Food for Humans (Andrews McMeel, December 2013)!