Consider forgoing ground spices and herbs where flavors often fall flat. The best way to add flavor to a dish is by fresh herbs and spices or freshly ground herbs and spices made from combinations of whole seeds, peppercorns, flakes, dried peels and leaves.
For a fusion of flavor perfect for chili and south of the border soups try High5’s Mountain Mama’s Tex Mex Mix. Combine the following and store in a jar. When ready to use pulverize whole spices and herbs by hand using a mortar and pestle or grind in hand-held pepper grinder or electric spice grinder.
Mountain Mama’s Tex Mex Mix
3 Tablespoons of each
- Red Chili flakes
- Cumin Seeds
1 Tablespoon of each
- Roasted Garlic Flakes
- Roasted Onion Flakes
- Oregano Leaves
- 1 Whole Paprika (whole paprika is from the dehydrating of clean, mature fruit of Capsicum annuum L. ). Crush with mortar & pestle and add to jar.
- Black peppercorns
Mix in glass container and grind the amount needed only when ready to use.
Add chili flakes and paprika according to taste preference–some like it hot!
As Aggarwal points in Healing Spices it’s ironic that one of the hottest spice in the world is called a chili (or if you are Spanish a “chile” or Mexican a “chilli”).
It doesn’t matter how you spell it, what matters are the health benefits derived from capsaicin, an alkaloid concentrated in chili seeds and membrane. For more I encourage everyone to take a peak at Aggarwal’s Healing Spices. This book first inspired me to use more spices because of their incredible health benefits. I have continued to use and experiment with different spices and herbs because they result in dishes fused with flavor.
Putting the flames out and other tips
- If your mouth is burning, forget the water. Although, in the past I’ve advocated fat or alcohol I’ve recently discovered a much better method, healthier, too– parsley. Have a garnish of parsley readily available and your lips will soon return to normal.
- After handling chiles always wash your hands with soap and water. Better yet, wear gloves when handling the infamous chile!
- If you forget gloves–and even if you wash your hands–do not rub your eyes after handling them as the chile oil can still burn. If you do touch your eyes, rinse repeatedly with cool water or saline solution until the burn subsides.