When talking about “farm to table” cooking you commonly hear that simplicity is key and letting the ingredients speak for themselves is important. However, this can be a challenge in our kitchen because so many spices play a central role in many of the cuisines of our participants. So, we are constantly walking the tightrope between blending our amazing, garden grown produce with authentic spicing that represents the cultures of our participants. What I’ve found is that the wide array of spice blends we explore often can highlight much of our amazing produce as well as help present some in new, exciting ways. For example, we all know what a carrot looks, smells, and tastes like. But when dusted and roasted with an interesting Afghani spice blend it becomes something new that pairs well with a whole new variety of foods.
So, this week we’ll explore some uses for an interesting Somali spice mix known as xawaash. One of our recent participants commented when making some for our CSA customers, “this is exactly what my house smells like!”. It’s a delicious blend of warm spices such as cloves, cinnamon, turmeric, coriander and cumin that can be used for anything from vegetables, to bean curries, to meats and fish. Its truly all purpose!
Xawaash Spice Blend
½ Cup Cumin Seeds
½ Cup Coriander Seeds
2 Tablespoons Black Peppercorns
1 teaspoon Cloves
¼ teaspoon Cardamom, ground
1 Tablespoon Turmeric, ground
1 teaspoon Cinnamon, ground
1) Place all whole spices (Cumin, coriander, peppercorns and cloves) in a dry frying pan. Place over medium heat
2) As pan heats up gently toss or stir the spices continually. Keep it moving so they don’t burn!
3) Toss until whisps of smoke appear and the spices have a toasty aroma. This should only take a few minutes.
4) Set aside to cool 5-10 minutes.
5) Place toasted spices in a spice/coffee grinder and blend thoroughly.
6) Pour into a bowl with the remaining spices (cinnamon, cardamom, and turmeric) and whisk together thoroughly. Store in a tight fitting container in a cool place in your kitchen
Xawaash Roasted Carrots (I love how the warm, toasty spices pair with the sweetness of carrots!)
1 lb Carrots, peeled
3 Tablespoons Canola, vegetable, or olive oil
1 Tablespoon Xawaash
Salt to taste
1) Preheat oven to 400 F
2) Cut the carrots into half inch pieces in whatever shape you like. The important thing is that they are consistent in size so they cook at the same speed. Place in a mixing bowl.
3) Add the remaining ingredients and toss thoroughly to coat.
4) Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or oiled aluminum foil (this will make cleanup easier!)
5) Spread the carrots in an even layer on the baking sheet. This is key to not crowd the pan so the carrots roast and caramelize rather than steam
6) Place in the oven and roast until caramelized and a knife pierces with a little bit of resistance still, about 20-25 minutes depending on your oven and the size/shape you cut. Give the pan a shake about halfway through and check to make sure they aren’t burning on the bottom.