Shawarma Spice Mix

Originally, this spice mix is used for shawarma, but it can be used for any grilled, roasted, or braised meat, to give that Middle Eastern flair (one of a few).

This spice mix is easy to make and it uses spices that are easy to find in any supermarket, so no reason for being lazy and not making it at home. In fact, it makes life very easy, because all you have to do is sprinkle the meat with the spice and cook it any way you want. No mess, no time waste, no effort, and delicious – what more do you want?

Ingredients:

2 ½ tablespoons ground cumin
2 ½ tablespoons ground coriander
2 ½ tablespoons garlic powder
1 ½ tablespoons sweet paprika
2 ½ teaspoons ground turmeric
½ teaspoon black pepper
Salt

Mix all spices together and store in an airtight container.

Turmeric – Edible Gold

In the past three to four years, there has been a new rising star in the American natural healing scene. Described as practically omnipotent and one of the best medicinal plants ever, it has finally been revealed to the world – turmeric.

Wherever I go, whether it’s health food stores, farmer’s markets, restaurants, and even the local supermarket or drug store, turmeric has the reputation of the new miracle. It is becoming very trendy in cooking, as well.

I must admit that my feelings about this fuss around turmeric are mixed. On the one hand, I am happy that Americans have finally discovered turmeric and can start enjoying its many medicinal and culinary benefits. On the other hand, I feel like turmeric is being treated like a superstar, it is huge and trendy, but usually, as soon as a new superstar shows up, people forget about it. I hope I’m wrong in this case.

You see, my relationship with turmeric goes back a long way. I’ve been familiar with turmeric ever since I can remember myself. My father’s parents were villagers who grew up in the mountains of Kurdistan and Northern Iran. They knew a lot about “natural medicine” (my grandma would laugh if she heard me call it that) not because they learned about it, but because they lived it. This amazing knowledge was acquired unknowingly simply by applying what they saw their parents do. When my grandparents immigrated to Israel, they brought this knowledge (and their amazing Persian cuisine) with them, and when needed, applied it on us.

I remember my grandmother sprinkling turmeric powder on my arm or leg, whenever I fell and hurt myself. I didn’t know why she did it, I didn’t ask. I was a little girl, and all I wanted is for someone to take care of my booboo somehow. Well, the turmeric worked. Every time. So I learned that whenever I cut or injure myself, the best way to stop the bleeding and heal the wound fast was to sprinkle turmeric powder on it. It worked better and faster than iodine and a band-aid. Today I know that one of turmeric’s most celebrated properties is it being anti-inflammatory and having the ability to clot blood.

Later on in life, after I had my first child and subsequently suffered from hemorrhoids (swollen and inflamed veins in a place where the sun doesn’t shine), an Indian friend told me that a great Indian remedy to treat hemorrhoids is to make a paste of turmeric powder and ghee (clarified butter), and apply it to the exposed hemorrhoids. I decided to sacrifice a pair of underwear and give it a shot (turmeric stains everything it touches yellow). After a few days, the hemorrhoids were gone. The turmeric shrank the hemorrhoids and cleared the inflammation.

On a more pleasant note, turmeric is one of the most, if not THE most, used spice in Persian cuisine (at least in my family). It adds color and flavor, and makes the food happy. My grandmother used to put it in almost every dish she made, Persian or not. I remember she once made us some beef patties and French fries, which were super yellow from the turmeric she added to them. Although they weren’t typical beef patties or French fries, it was all yummy nonetheless. After that, whenever our mom made French fries, we asked her to add turmeric to them.

This is how we used to eat our sunny-side-up eggs (when my dad cooked):

turmeric sunny side up

Or have our open face grilled cheese:

toast

Look how colorful! Doesn’t it make you happy? And I haven’t even mentioned all of the wonderful Persian dishes featuring turmeric. Two examples are Basmati rice and Khoresh Sabzi.

Interested to learn more about Turmeric’s medicinal benefits? Check out this Dr. Axe’s article: https://draxe.com/turmeric-benefits/.

Tali’s Gluten-Free Tart Flour Mix

When I first started my journey into gluten free baking, I was clueless as to what it meant. baking disasterAll I knew was that I couldn’t use wheat, barley and rye flours. There was a lot of trial and error experimentation in the first few months. At the beginning, most creations ended up in the garbage. But pretty soon I started getting the
feel for it. I wasn’t yet at the stage where I was happy enough with the product to sell it, but it was pretty good. Good enough for us to enjoy it at home, and better yet, good enough to be enjoyed by diners at the local soup kitchen where I donated all these cakes.

The most important thing I learned during this time was that there is no one gluten free flour mix that is good for everything. Even with regular flour you have all-purpose flour, cake flour, bread flour, whole wheat, and so on, that are used for different purposes. I knew that I could not rely on any of the ready made store bought mixes to get the results I wanted with my cakes . Every cake and cookie needed its own combination of flours in order to come out perfect. So I needed to create my own blends.

After months of learning about the traits and qualities of each gluten free flour, and trying dozens of flour recipes that I found online, I came up with two four mixes that are the basis to Tali’s Artisanal line of products – Tali’s Gluten Free Rustic Flour and Tali’s Gluten Free Tart Flour. To that I add other flours that together make each of my products unique and different in texture and flavor.woman happy1

There are many recipes out there for gluten free flour mixes, and you may have already found some that you like to use more than others. You are welcome to give the following recipe a try, as well. I like to use it to make tart shells, butter cookies and fluffy cakes.

1½ cups (240g/8.5oz) superfine rice flour
¾ cup (90g/3.2oz) potato starch
½ cup (80g/2.8oz) superfine sweet rice flour
½ cup (60g/2oz) tapioca flour

The amounts here are given in cups as well as in grams and ounces. If possible, it is better to measure in grams, because it gives a more accurate ratio of the different flours. In baking this may be crucial to the success of the baked good.

For better results, make sure that the rice flour you use is superfine, not fine. Superfine rice flour can be found in Asian grocery stores. I get my superfine rice flour online from Authentic Foods.

Tali’s All-Purpose Gluten-Free Flour Mix

All purpose flour in containers

 

In gluten-free baking you cannot just use one kind of flour to substitute regular wheat flour. In order to get closer results to regular baked goods, you must use a mix of different GF flour, where each flour brings a different quality to the baked good, such as crispiness, browning, crust forming, etc. Determining the right flours and the right ratio between them is important in order to get the best results possible.

To learn more about how to create your own gluten-free flour mixes, check out this link: https://glutenfreegirl.com/2012/07/how-to-make-a-gluten-free-all-purpose-flour-mix/

All purpose Tali with baked goods

The following mix is one of the flour mixes I use in my gluten-free bakery. I use it when I want to give the baked good more substance (bread like cakes), and when I want a more wholesome feel to my cakes or cookies. It is a little heavier than my gluten-free Tart Flour Mix, because of the use of the Sorghum flour.

The mix does not include xanthan gum, so make sure to add xanthan gum to your recipes.

The flours are weighed in grams to give a more accurate ratio between the different flours

Ingredients:

1 ¾ cups (280g) superfine rice flour (found in Asian grocery stores)
2 ¼ cups (260g) tapioca flour
1 1/3 cups (220g) superfine glutinous sweet rice flour (found in Asian grocery stores)
1 ½ cups (200g) sorghum flour

Preparation:

To get the best quality flour and best quality baked goods, it is crucial that you get the superfine rice flour. Otherwise, your flour mix will be gritty, and so will the final products you are trying to bake.

I like to use (as you can see in the picture above) recycled good quality plastic containers. It is less fancy than beautiful glass jars, but it feels environmentally right.

Mix all flours in an airtight container.

Close the container and shake well in all directions to blend in all the flours. Keep in the freezer if possible, or in a dark, cool place.

If you use flour mixes often, you may double or triple the amounts given above. Just remember to keep the same ratios.

 

Baharat for Cooking

Baharat spices

Baharat is a spice mix used in various Middle Eastern cuisines. In Arabic, “baharat” means “spices” (“bahar” in singular). Every region and country has their own baharat, which is slightly different from one country to another. You may use cooking baharat for any meat, poultry, fish, rice, and vegetable dish, for a rich, deep, Middle-Eastern flavor.

The first recipe is a basic mix that is widely used in Syrian, Lebanese, and Arab Israeli cuisines. You may play with the amounts of spices, or try removing one or two spices to create the perfect blend for you.

Syrian (Allepian/Halaby) style baharat

1 tablespoon ground allspice
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground clove
1 tablespoon ground cumin
½ tablespoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground cardamom
1 ½ tablespoon ground paprika

Mix spices together and store in an airtight container.

The following baharat blend is used mainly in Iraqi cuisine.

Iraqi style baharat

2 tablespoon ground allspice
2 tablespoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground dried rose flowers

Mix spices together and store in an airtight container.

If not used very often, you may keep the baharat in the freezer to maintain freshness.