Cooking with Spice. I love cooking with spices and fresh herbs the aroma puts me in such a good mood. Both spices and herbs help create food traditions or helps the cook, like me, change a dish. While still using the same basic ingredients, you can move from one cuisine to a different one simply by changing the a key spice. For example have you notice how if you use ginger, turmeric, coriander seeds, chili, cardamom and cumin you start to think of India, now add chicken and you have a base for a chicken curry. Now replace some of those spices with Sumac, and you have created a Lebanese or Turkish chicken dish. Oh you didn’t know you could cook with Sumac. Its s a wonderful plant seed and it imparts a tangy lemony flavor along with a red tint that makes lamb, chicken, fish and vegetables so tasty.
My first exposure to this wonderful spice was with Ian Hemphill of Herbie’s Spice. I was taking a spice blending course and we made the best slow roasted tomatoes I have ever had and the star spice was Sumac. What a treat and I still make them to this day – 17 years later.
Yet this lovely spice is more then just flavor and color. It also imparts medicinal properties. I was actually surprised and please to learn of all it adds for our health. Sumac is the common name for Rhus plant that contains over 250 individual species of flowering plants in the family Anacardiaceae. These plants are found in temperate and tropical regions worldwide, and have a long history of use by indigenous people for medicinal and other uses.
Recent studies done on some varieties show that sumac has exceptionally high antioxidant properties, improved glycemic control, reduced cholesterol levels and better cardiovascular health! Bonus attributes for this lovely seed! Sumac berries may well turn out to be the next super food!
Cooking with spice is about tradition, creating flavor, loving what you prepare, and maybe HEALTH also! Dig a little deeper the next time you use a spice or herb and learn more about what you are cooking with. To your good health!