Spices 101: What is Pepper?
Go to your dining table right now. Go look at your place setting. What are the two things that always must be there. That’s right salt, and pepper. And don’t tell me you don’t have salt and pepper, because everybody knows a real dining table’s gotta have salt and pepper shakers. If you don’t have ’em, buy ’em. But hey, what is salt and pepper, exactly?
Actually I take that back, everyone knows what salt is. It’s salt. It’s made of sodium and chlorine and turns into a cool, white crystal rock thing that makes all food taste better. But! Let’s be real, everyone here has seen pepper before, but most people like yourself are probably dying to know what it really is. Well, I’m glad you asked.
Appearance: Very small, round, black berries
Scent: Fruity, spicy
Taste: Spicy, dark, pungent
Foods: Like everything ever
Spices 101: What is Cardamom?
Recently a ton of supermarkets closed down in the northeast, especially here on Long Island, resulting from their blanket corporation of A&P going out of business. It was really sad, considering how many people lost their jobs, and to see some old standbys like Waldbaums and Path-Mark close up shop, never to be seen again. Well, sometimes the best way to move past a tragedy is by finding any good you can in it. In this case, legendary clearance prices on all items. I hate to sound like classic consumerist American, but we were able to find some insane deals on food in the last few days when items were being discounted 70%, 80%, and even 95% off.
We took that opportunity to splurge on some cardamom pods, a staple curry ingredient which normally runs for, ohhhh, $15 a bottle. So yeah. Shit’s expensive.
Appearance: Small, green pods
Scent: Fruity, flowery, zesty
Taste: Sweet, zesty, fresh
Foods: Indian, Nordic European
Spices 101: What is Coriander? What is Cilantro?
I like to use the word coriander a lot when joking about high-class foods. Though coriander is yet another spice that sounds really complicated and fancy, but in reality isn’t as big a deal as one would think. It’s all in the name. It just sounds ritzy as hell. Four syllables, a bunch of vowels, doesn’t look like any other words… It has to be a big deal right? Weirdly enough, coriander is actually just the seeds of cilantro plants…
Appearance: Tan, spherical seeds / coarse, beige powder
Scent: Sweet, citric
Taste: Nutty, fresh, Spice-spicy
Foods: Indian, Asian, and Middle Eastern cuisine
Quick Recipe: Simple Indian Dressing
One of the larger cornerstone ingredients in Indian cuisine is yogurt. Not the sugary, granola-laden dessert versions we enjoy here in America, but just plain-ass regular yogurt. It gets used for marinating meats, is turned into drinks like kefir, and can also be used as a condiment. Lately I put together this simple little recipe that sprang out of my love for burritos and curry. Surely, those two can’t combine, right? Well actually they do quite well. For anyone from the Long Island area, we recommend the hell out of a little hole in the wall that serves Indian-Mexican fusion, Taco Express in Selden, NY (ignore the handful of bad reviews complaining about service, we’ve never had any problems).
Anyway, this particular recipe is for a quick little dressing that does a good job of bringing that delicious, warm curry flavor to the table without requiring a ton of time or effort. Eat it on rice, in burritos, on sandwiches, salads, etc… It’s delicious and goes well with almost anything!
Quick Recipe: Chicken Pasanda
Chicken Pasanda is a curry dish that some describe as a “royal” dish, due to its richness. It skips out on the usual ingredients of tomato sauce/paste, which gives it a nice creamy white color, which makes it stand out from other curries which are frequently reddish or orange. It has all your standard curry flavors, with a fun bonus addition of chopped almonds which add a delightful nutty flavor to the dish. Bear in mind, our column’s name “quick recipe” denotes the the fact that the post is quick, not the recipe necessarily. In this case, chicken pasanda is a bit on the lengthy side of meals to make, but it shouldn’t take longer than an hour to prepare. It’s certainly worth it; it tastes awesome!
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