Add a touch of Eastern spice

PUBLISHED: 09:36 25 January 2011 | UPDATED: 20:32 20 February 2013

Add a touch of Eastern spice

Add a touch of Eastern spice

Add interest to winter eating with a dash of Mark David's special blend of spices

Add interest to winter eating with a dash of Mark Davids special blend of spices

In this weather, there is nothing better than a warming spicy dish from the Orient or India. I love using chillies but I attach more importance to spices, subtly blended. Let me share with you my favourite blend of spices.

1 tablespoon each of black onion seeds, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, fennel seeds and cardamom pod. These need to be dry-fried (dont add oil), for 3 mins over a medium heat, then pounded in a pestle and mortar to a fine powder. This cooks the spices and develops their flavour.

I use the above spice mix in all sorts of ways, here are some ideas.
A teaspoon of Marks spices in a two-pint recipe of carrot and orange soup is a winner.
Score some chicken drumsticks with a sharp knife and rub some of the spice mix into the cracks, season with salt and grill.
Mix a teaspoon of the spice mix with 2 tablespoons of breadcrumbs and 2 tablespoons chopped onion and a pinch of salt, fry in a little groundnut oil and coat 2 fillets of fresh cod, oven bake 15 minutes.
Make a warming lamb curry and as well as using a decent Madras curry paste, add the same amount of the spice mix.
Now you can get coconut milk and coconut cream easily (available in most supermarkets) the world is your oyster! I tend to use coconut cream in Indian curries and spiced dishes from that part of the world, and coconut milk in dishes from the Far East (Thailand, Vietnam etc). Coconut cream seems to enhance rich curries (particularly lamb) and I use coconut milk for oriental stir fries. In both cases coconut enhances rather than takes over. I have recently found coconut milk powder in some supermarkets, you can make up however much you need without any wastage.
On chilli heat, be careful and dont overdo it. We all have a pain threshold when it comes to chilli heat. I personally like a small kick of chilli to allow the subtlety of other spices to shine through. Dont forget to use fresh ginger root and lots of garlic!

Mark David runs a cookery school The Cooking Experience in Hadleigh. For details of courses visit
or call 01473 827568.

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