Did You Know? Most of us are used to eating popcorn at the movie theater, but in parts of Columbia they snack on Ants. “Known in Spanish as ‘hormigas culonas,’ the brown, cockroach-size insects are roasted, salted and eaten like peanuts. Considered a delicacy, they can fetch more than 10 times the price per pound of Colombia’s world-famous coffee.”
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Piggybacking off the Veggie Curry recipe I want you all to make, I became inspired to start sharing uncommon ingredients you need to add to your kitchen cabinets. One reason I love cooking so much is learning about new ingredients & foods. It’s like discovering lost treasure.
That’s also one of the best parts I’ve discovered from living abroad, all the new found flavors AND being able to show off favorites from home.
I used to be afraid of recipes that had ingredients I didn’t use or have in my kitchen. I thought it took too much energy to find them & the unknown price & flavors… But over time & the use of bravery, I’ve stalked my kitchen with all kinds of interesting ingredients & end up using them more than I expected.
I want to help you become familiar with a few of them & encourage you to explore flavors for yourself. You’ll be so popular & feel really cool. Today, I’m sharing 5 ingredients, but I plan to share more later. YUM! I’m hungry.
5 Uncommon Ingredients for your Kitchen! Mid-East Inspired
Commonly used in Curry! Delicious! You can buy fresh turmeric in the grocery store near ginger, those two look similar, or turmeric ground up into a spice. Turmeric is not scary, unless you make Turmeric Milk, I still have nightmares from this experience.
Right now, Turmeric is the popular girl at school. Bloggers & healthy people figured out the benefits of turmeric & now it’s all the rage, for good reason. Benefits can: reduce bloating, heartburn, high cholesterol, headaches, swelling, water retention, inflammation, skin issues, and the list goes on. (via)
How the hell someone does not have a large tub of the cumin spice at home I have no idea… I dump Cumin in everything! Hummus, spaghetti, Chili, Curry, casseroles, seasoning – I mean everything. By the way, I’ve watched plenty of Curry & Biryani dishes being made & let me tell you it’s pretty cute how American’s measure out a precious teaspoon of their spices to add in a dish – Arab’s dump them in! I’ve witnessed it & have applied the same strategy when cooking. With some spices it works against me (*cough* cayenne pepper) but with Cumin, dumping works! I prefer ground cumin more than the seeds, but to each their own.
Have you ever wanted to know how Arab’s cook the rice they accompany to all their lunches? Cardamom. They throw a few cardamom pods, & a clove or two, in their rice cooker while the rice is cooking. This is a staple way to prepare your basmati white rice. Or really any basmati rice dish. And how easy is that? Wafiq and I grab a cardamom pod + a clove and toss them in our rice cooker. Adds the perfect amount of very light flavor to really make you feel like a pro in the kitchen. Hello, Chef!
Cardamom is known as an expensive spice, but don’t let that scare you. A little goes a long way & it’s still not that expensive for a good spice. You can find it near the spices at the grocery store. The bonus? Believed benefits include: mood-elevating properties, aromatherapy, antidepressant, improved blood circulation, cancer protection, treatment for sore throats, congestion, stomach & lung issues… the list is long! (via)
Do you have Peanut Butter? Yes? Then Tahini shouldn’t scare you away. It’s basically a different kind of peanut butter but instead of peanuts, Tahini is made from sesame seeds. You can find it next to Peanut Butter in the grocery store & likely only a dollar or two more than peanut butter. Most commonly known as an ingredient used in Hummus, which is why I always have a jar in my kitchen. Wafiq’s mom chops dates & drizzles a little Tahini over them for an evening snack… SO GOOD. (Hummus Recipe: HERE)
This is probably the most intimidating ingredient on my list simply because it’s pretty expensive for such a little amount. And what the hell do you do with it, right? Saffron is a little tricky to find, usually found near the spices in a little jar. Most rice dishes that are yellow coloring have Saffron in them, unless it’s Turmeric as a substitute. I’ve only used Saffron in Biryani recipes, like this one. You can throw in a very little amount, only a very small strand, and the dish will turn yellow as mixed. You can also mix the saffron in a liquid (we used milk) before you add it to a dish.
Saffron is still tricky for me, but worth a try!! I don’t always have Saffron in my kitchen, but from time to time I’ll get my hands on some & Wafiq thanks me 🙂
I hope you’re excited to get to the grocery store (OR you’ve already ordered them on your Amazon app, HA)!
These flavors are currently waiting for a tasting so give them a try! Most are super easy to incorporate into any meal & you can only begin exploring new meals from there.
Anyone have new ingredients to share? I’m ALWAYS looking 🙂
Have a great day today & be thoughtful.