Homemade Spice Mixes

When you live in the armpit of Africa you expect to have more of a third world standard of living and to encounter some difficulties with infrastructure and service delivery and you develop mechanisms to cope with substandard power (surge protectors and voltage regulators), power outages (candles and kerosene lanterns), no water (emergency water supply) and iffy internet (low expectations).  If you run out of essential ingredients, however, you have three options – you can simply go without, you can try and substitute or you can make your own if you have the raw ingredients.  And so, with the help of the internet, I have collected recipes for several spice mixes and I thought I would share them as they could prove useful in an emergency.

Most of these are no-fuss recipes which make use of ground spices, but the Chinese Five Spice Powder mix includes instructions for using whole spices and I have also provided a Garam Masala recipe based on whole spices.  These are basic recipes that you can adjust and tailor to your own taste, e.g. you may want to add some freshly ground black pepper to the Curry Powder recipe.  Onion and garlic powder are difficult to obtain here and I seldom have them in my pantry so I omit these from the mixes and use fresh onion and/or garlic when cooking.

Homemade Spice Mixes

Apple Pie Spice

60 ml ground cinnamon
15 ml ground allspice
10 ml ground nutmeg
7.5-10 ml ground ginger
2.5 ml ground cardamom (optional)
1.5 ml ground cloves (optional) 

Combine all the spices in a small bowl and blend well.  Store in a small, airtight container.

Adapted from Home in the Finger Lakes and Baking Bites

Chinese Five Spice Powder

15 ml ground cinnamon
15 ml ground cloves
15 ml ground fennel seeds
15 ml ground Szechwan peppercorns
15 ml ground star anise
5 ml ground ginger (optional)
5 ml ground nutmeg (optional)

If you have only whole cloves, fennel seed, Szechwan peppercorns, or star anise, you can grind them in a spice or coffee grinder or using a pestle and mortar.  Whole seeds grind down to much less volume, so use about 1½ times the quantity before grinding (i.e. if you don’t have ground cloves, start with 22.5 ml of whole cloves, and grind them to a powder.  You might need 30 ml of star anise to make 15 ml of powder.  You don’t have to be precise in making this blend.

From Amazing Ribs

Curry Powder

120 ml ground cumin
105 ml ground coriander
30 ml ground ginger
60 ml Turmeric
7.5 ml cayenne pepper or chilli powder

Note:  For a hot curry powder use 30 ml of cayenne or chilli powder.

From Jeena’s Kitchen

Easy Garam Masala

15 ml ground cumin
7.5 ml ground coriander
7.5 ml tsp ground cardamom
7.5 ml tsp ground pepper
5 ml ground cinnamon
2.5 ml ground cloves
2.5 ml ground nutmeg
1.25 ml ground allspice (optional)

Mix spices in a small bowl.  Place mix in an airtight container, and store in a cool, dry place.

From Allrecipes

Madhur Jaffrey’s Garam Masala
Makes about 45 ml

1 tbsp cardamom seeds (if you can’t buy the seeds then buy cardamom pods and shell them yourself)
1 tsp black peppercorns
1 tsp black cumin seeds (you can use regular cumin seeds if black aren’t available)
1 tsp whole cloves
⅓ of a whole nutmeg (you can break a whole nutmeg by placing it on a cloth and bashing it with a meat mallet or rolling pin)
a medium stick of cinnamon, about 5-8 cm, broken up into 3-4 pieces

Put all the ingredients in a clean coffee grinder or other spice grinder and grind as finely as possible.

Store in a tightly lidded jar, away from heat and sunlight and use as needed.

From BBC Food

Mixed Spice

15 ml ground allspice
15 ml ground cinnamon
15 ml ground nutmeg
10 ml ground mace
5 ml ground cloves
5 ml ground coriander
5 ml ground ginger

Blend all spices together, and store in a sealed jar away from light.

From BBC GoodFood

Pumpkin Pie Spice

60 ml ground cinnamon
30 ml ground ginger
10 ml ground allspice (or ground cloves)
5 ml ground nutmeg
2.5 ml ground cardamom (optional)

Combine all the spices and blend well.  Store in a small, airtight container.

From Baking Bites

Taco Spice Mix
Enough to season 450 g beef mince

15 ml chilli powder
7.5 ml ground cumin
7.5 ml paprika
5 ml oregano
5 ml Kosher salt (or 7.5 ml table salt)
2.5 ml garlic powder
2.5 ml onion powder
1.25 ml cayenne pepper

Mix all the spices together and use it to season 450 g of beef mince before cooking.

From Savoury Sweet Life 


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