One of the great spice mixes from the Middle East
I am quite into Middle Eastern flavourings at the moment, it’s my new ‘Asia’ which I really overdosed on for a few years and had to find a new source of inspiration for my cooking. Like the food of Asia, spice plays a big part in the food of the Middle East and I have really enjoyed learning about the different spice blends of the region.
Hawaj is a bit of a new one on me, it originates in the Yemen and is, too all intents and purposes an Arabic garam masala. The ingredients are there to prove me right; white cumin seeds, cardamom, black peppercorns, turmeric and coriander (cilantro) They all combine to make for a heady, warming blend leaving you wondering where you might have tasted it before.
Hawaj is often used to flavour coffee and desserts from the Middle East, I was thinking how well it would work with roast lamb or vegetables or a light sprinkling on some white fish fillets. At the moment I am thinking cauliflower soup, with the spice mix fried off with the cauliflower and onions until everything is nicely coloured (or ‘caramelised’ as every man and his dog now says) before adding the stock. A fat bundle of appropriate herbs will go in as a flavouring and once cooked, pureed and checked for seasoning I’m going to finish it with some chunks of feta cheese, some toasted pine nuts, candied lemon zest and fresh mint. Should be good, I hope!
Look out for some different spice blends, ras el hanout has seen its star rise and fall of late in the chef world, another case of ‘truffle oil overkill’ as it were but don’t let that put you off, trends come and go but ras el hanout is here to stay!