|The Flintstones, as we call them (aka Mom & Dad)|
Mom’s hands are magic. Everyone knows it. Grandma’s, too. There’s something so comforting about homecookin’. It’s how affection is expressed in my family. The secret ingredients in all of Mom’s delicious dishes are patience, slowly caramelized onions and her arsenal of spice mixes.
It all began with a phone call to Mom….
“Hi, Ma. Can you please tell me how to make garmeer pilaf?“
“Oh, sure, it’s very easy,” she began.
Then, as she went on about a pinch of this, a dab of that, I feverishly wrote down every word. Then, I was going to have that piece of paper bronzed. Visions of Mom’s red rice dish filled my mind and my mouth started to water.
After I thanked her and said goodbye, I made a mad dash to the pantry, then
the fridge and freezer, then the stove. I could almost taste it!
But, you know, maybe I rush things. Maybe I don’t have the right touch. A pinch of this. A dash of that.
My version was bland and soggy. Nothing like Mom’s. What was I doing wrong?
Another phone call to Mom….
“Did you forget to brown the onions?” she asked.
“What about the turmeric? It’s very important, you know?“
Hmmmm, well, it turned out to be the exotic 7 spices, “advieh arabi.”
Mom adds a few pinches of the magic powder to almost every dish.
A local supermarket packages it and labels it an enigmatic “7 Spices”
with no ingredients listed.
How’s that for marketing?
You want it? You’ve gotta go to that market.
Well, not me! I’ll scour the internets, ask every mom I know, even strangers, if I have to.
Hey, desperate times call for desperate measures, right?
Like any seasoning mix, there’s no absolute rule on which flavors to include and how much.
Anything goes, really.
But, that freedom is part of what makes cooking so relaxing. A great escape from the humdrums of routine life.
So, here are a few of my favorites. These are merely suggestions. You can exclude things or mix and match, as you please.
Get yourself a cheap little coffee grinder and use whole spices. Stop by a local Indian or Mediterranean grocer where you can afford a boatload! Spices retain their flavors better and longer if you grind them just before use. You can also toast them in a dry pan to release the aromatic oils before grinding.
I left out the measurements on purpose, because you should experiment on the amounts and the flavours that appeal to you.
DIY Exotic Spice Mixes
Arabic 7-Spice (Bokharat)
Indian Garam Masala
Afghani Garam Masala
red pepper flakes
black pepper berries