Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Big Flavors Revealed

The first seasoning is cassia chunks, I bought some at Penzey's during my trip to Oregon. I liked the idea of using it in mulled wine or in chai. In the U.S. the spice labeled "cinnamon" is usually cassia.

As for the second seasoning, I have a confession to make. I thought I was buying that refreshing little blend of seasonings you get in Indian restaurants. The one that is kind of a breath freshener? But instead I got panchpuran, an Bengali seasoning mix of mustard seeds, cumin, fennel, fenugreek and nigella seeds. It has a mild, sweet oniony flavor and is used in chutney, vegetable and fish dishes. I plan to experiment with it soon. Any recipe suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

The third is my latest find at Trader Joe's, Hawaiian black sea salt. It is sea salt infused with charcoal and has a mineral flavor that really works well with fresh sliced tomatoes. I used it last night on top of my Pizza Margherita, with cherry tomatoes and mozzarella. It also looks cool and provides a great a color contrast to many foods.

This was the first and hopefully last "stumper" where not one person was able to correctly identify all three ingredients. While each spice and salt was not so hard to find locally perhaps you needed to be familiar with the flavors of Sumatra, China, India and Hawaii to get this one right. I will post another contest in a week or two and I promise not to make it so hard!