Baharat – My Travelling Companion
When I go on holidays I love to explore and cook the local produce, which invariably means looking for places to rent that have the basics of a workable kitchen. The kitchens can vary enormously and while some places have a stock of pantry essentials, including spices, the spices can often be a bit old and not the ones you need. Local shopping can also be limited, so in recent travels to the countryside I have slipped a container of baharat in my luggage. Baharat is a versatile Middle Eastern spice mix which can be used for meats, fish and vegetables. It gives food a lovely aromatic, warm, sweet spicy flavour adding an exotic touch to barbecued meats, baked fish or roast vegetable salads and can be the basis for a tagine.
What’s in baharat you ask? The mix can vary a lot depending on origin, each country adding a spice typical of the region. Malouf’s Spice Mezza brand (available at the Essential Ingredient) is a Turkish mix with star anise added to its sweet spice profile of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, cassia bark, black pepper, cumin and coriander. In contrast, Gerwürzthaus, has made up a blend labelled Saudi Baharat which omits star anise and includes ginger and a little chilli. Alexandra’s Bazaar is a New Zealand spice brand stocked by David Jones and their version is a North African mix with paprika and sumac which I really love. You can of course always make your own mix by freshly grinding whole seeds. My favorite version has a larger proportion of paprika, black pepper and cumin (see recipe tab).