All the way from sunny Santa Monica, California, I was sent a trio of spice blends to try by the lovely team at RawSpiceBar. Thanks to them, I have been transported into the world of Ethiopian cuisine (*waves across the continent*), Christmas themed puff puff and an unforgettable day spent creating a mini feast.
RawSpiceBar is a company that's dedicated to delivering you a selection of flavourful, vegan-friendly, freshly ground spice blends from different parts of the world. For a subscription that costs as little as $6 a month, you'll get three authentic spice blends delivered straight to your door.
I was sent their Ethiopian spice box, which consisted of carefully portioned pouches of:
- Ethiopian Mitmita
- Pumpkin Pie Spice
All of this came with a two-sided information and recipe sheet, offering recipe suggestions and an insightful background story on the cuisine in question and key points about the spice blends.
I've never made an Ethiopian dish before, nor have I eaten at an Ethiopian restaurant. My to-do list has now been updated to include an extensive exploration of other cuisines in African countries beyond West/North Africa. These spices piqued my interest and got me looking high and low for Ethiopian recipes.
I was pleased to see that one of the recipe suggestions was vegan, and so I decided to give it a try: Berbere Roated Carrots, Fennel & Mint. Using the Berbere spice mix, I coated some sliced carrots and fennel before roasting for 25-30 minutes and then tossing with chopped mint. Click here to see the full recipe and a step by step guide on how to make this salad. I was very happy with this meal. The spices had a great kick to it - just the way I like it - and turned a perfectly simple dish into an impressive, flavour-packed warm salad that would make a wonderful starter or side dish. I can see this salad being featured on any Christmas dinner table this festive season.
Berbere spice ingredients: dried chiles, sweet paprika, coriander, ginger, cardamom, fenugreek, nutmeg, allspice, cloves, black peppercorns.
The second recipe I created was an Ethiopian, vegan version of Ful Medames (fava beans), using a combination of the Ethiopian Mitmita spice mix and the Berbere spice mix. Ful Medames is essentially a serving of fava beans with lots of garlic and olive oil, and topped with fresh ingredients; it is usually served with bread and is eaten throughout East Africa in countries such as Somalia, Sudan, Eritrea and of course, Ethiopia. Click here for the full recipe. Once again, the spices turned a bland pot of fava beans into something quite special. The African bird's eye chili peppers in the Mitmita blend stood out the most for me and I could tell that they were of high quality. As well as working well in stews and beans, mitmita can also be used in place of hot sauce or Siracha as a dip or condiment.
Ethiopian Mitmita spice ingredients: African bird's eye chilli peppers, dried red chillies, cardamom, black peppercorns, garlic.
Finally, I decided to use the Pumpkin Pie Spice blend to jazz up a Nigerian favourite - Puff Puff! This version is absolutely ideal for the festive season and you'll want to spoil your guests with this sweet treat. For the full recipe, simply click here! The aroma of this spice blend invaded my entire kitchen and I really couldn't complain. This spice mix would do wonders in your Christmas cookies, breads, and other baked goods.
Pumpkin Pie Spice ingredients: cinnamon, ginger, allspice, nutmeg, cloves, mace, star anise.