There are certain places that you travel to where the use of spices is quite abundant. Needless to say, with rare exceptions all food has some sort of spices in it, even if it is just salt and pepper. Some places, though, go way beyond a few common ingredients and use a wide variety of spices in them. We really enjoy eating foods that have a variety of spices and have a sense of being exotic. Clearly it isn’t for everyone and we also enjoy foods that are spicy in the sense of heat as well. Since we try to recreate dishes from places that we travel, here are a few of the spicy dishes that we have previously prepared, in no particular order.
This is a sponsored post on behalf of The Spice House. The recipe and all opinions are our own.
Our favorite meal when we visited India was Lamb Biryani. It isn’t a particularly difficult dish to create, but it does take a bit of time and preparation. One of the reasons that it is so flavorful is that it uses a variety of spices, some of which can be difficult to find. We used several spices from The Spice House and created our own take on Lamb Biryani. It turned out to be quite delicious and very fragrant. Depending on how spicy you like your food, you can control some of the heat by changing the amount of cayenne pepper or type of green chili that you use. We served ours over Basmati rice, but regular rice would be just as good.
1 lb Lamb Shoulder Chops – cut into 1 inch cubes
8 Whole Cloves
4 Black Cardamom Pods
4 Cinnamon Sticks
1 Large White Onion – sliced thinly
1 tbsp Minced Garlic
1 tbsp Minced Ginger
3 tbsp Fresh Mint Leaves – chopped
3 Tomatoes – chopped
3 Serrano Peppers – chopped (and deseeded for less heat)
2 tbsp Cayenne Pepper
1 tbsp Harissa Spread
4 tbsp Plain Yogurt
2 tbsp Lemon Juice – fresh squeezed
1/2 tsp Saffron
2 tbsp Warm Milk
1 cup Basmati Rice – cooked to package directions
1/4 cup Vegetable Oil
Salt to taste
Heat the oil in a large skillet on medium heat and, once the oil is heated, add the cloves, cardamom pods, and cinnamon sticks for about 1 minute until they are fragrant. Add the onion and cook until lightly brown stirring frequently, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for another minute. Stir in the mint and cook for 1 minute more. Add the lamb to the onion and spice mixture and cook until the meat begins to brown on all sides, about 15 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, serrano peppers, and cayenne pepper and cook for about 10 minutes. Finally, stir in the yogurt, milk, saffron, harissa spread, and lemon juice and cook for about 15 minutes. Serve over the rice.
Regardless of where you live, getting fresh fruit, vegetables, meat, and other items from local farmers is definitely worth the effort. During our time in Germany, we came to rely on the market to get fresh produce, but also to pick up flowers for our apartment. Even here in Colorado, we will go to the farmer’s market almost every weekend during the summer to take advantage of getting items that are being harvested at that time. Unfortunately, we don’t have access to the variety of items that seem to be available in Europe and other places, but we enjoy going to them whenever we can, even if we aren’t buying anything.
One of the most diverse markets that we visited was the one in Tangiers, Morocco. The variety of colors and smells were almost overwhelming with the spices, fresh produce, seafood, and meat that would be trimmed in front of you. You could even buy bones for soups and other parts of the animals as nothing goes to waste. Even though we didn’t buy anything, we were able to try several things as we walked through the stalls from olives to a fresh tangerine. Each owner was very proud of the items that they had to sell and were definitely keen on making sure that you knew anything you wanted about what they had on display.
Although every stall was unique in what they had to offer, it was amazing to see the similarities in the way that they arranged their items for sale. Each would put their items out in ways where the colors would contrast one another and naturally draw you eyes to certain items. This week’s Daily Post Photo Challenge is Variations on a Theme and the entirety of the market in Morocco was definitely just that.