What’s your favourite spice mix? Share yours in The Spice Trail

spice trail badge long

For April and May’s Spice Trail challenge, I’ve decided to celebrate the spice mix in all its many and various guises.

Every country, continent and cuisine around the world has its own spice mixes and blends. From North African dukkah and ras el hanout to French quatre epices and Jamaican jerk seasoning. The Middle East has given us baharat and za’atar, while from Asia we have garam masala and panch phoron. Continue reading “What’s your favourite spice mix? Share yours in The Spice Trail”

December’s Spice Trail: cooking with allspice

cooking with allspice


Whenever I lift the lid on a jar of allspice berries, that gorgeous aroma instantly gives me a warm, Christmassy feeling. Along with cloves, allspice is pretty much synonymous with festive bakes and cakes. Yet there is so much more to allspice than Christmas cake… Continue reading “December’s Spice Trail: cooking with allspice”

A taste of India on The Spice Trail

A Taste of India

One of the countries at the top of my bucket list has to be India. As a lover of spice, it’s really quite poor show I haven’t yet made it there, unless you count a very brief stop in Bombay (or rather Mumbai) as a child en route to Malaysia. Which you can’t.

But this month on The Spice Trail, I’m hoping my fellow food bloggers will bring a taste of India to me in the form of recipes inspired by this diverse culinary nation. Indian cuisine is not all about curry and chillies; just like the country itself, its food is incredibly varied. It’s a vast country, with a population second only to China, where food traditions vary enormously from one region to another. I can’t claim to be an expert and so I very much look forward to discovering new dishes and learning lessons from the blogging community.

Whether your dish is an example of authentic Indian cookery or a fusion of Indian techniques and ingredients with other world cuisines, so long as your recipe features at least one spice and takes some Indian inspiration, then you are invited to link up to this month’s challenge.

selection of natco products

Win a hamper of Natco ingredients

The winner of September’s Spice Trail challenge will receive a fantastic hamper of goodies from Natco, packed full of ingredients to set your creative juices flowing in the kitchen, from flavoured nuts and spiced teas to packs of spices and lentils.

Natco Foods was established in the UK in 1961 to serve the increasing demand for ingredients needed to cook south Asian cuisine. Now, Natco sources lentils, grains, spices, nuts, seeds and chutneys from all over the world and brings them to its award-winning processing hub in the heart of the English countryside. There, the raw materials are graded, cleaned, milled and blended to produce the highest quality products. Natco’s quest is to bring delicious freshness, startling colours, fragrant and pungent aromas and irresistible flavours to the heart and soul of every kitchen, helping you embrace nature and wellbeing to your inner self.

You can find Natco products in major supermarkets as well as independent retailers throughout the UK, or visit the online shop at www.natco-online.com.

How to enter The Spice Trail

spice trail badge square

  • Display the The Spice Trail badge (above and also available here) on your recipe post, and link back to this challenge post.
  • Up to three recipe links accepted per blogger, so long as each one is inspired by Indian cuisine and features at least one spice.
  • Feel free to link up recipe posts from your archive, but please add the information about this challenge to the post and The Spice Trail badge.
  • Send your recipe URL to me at vanesther-at-reescommunications-dot-co-dot-uk, including your own email address and the title of your recipe or post. The closing date this month is Tuesday 30 September 2014.
  • If you tweet your post, please mention #TheSpiceTrail and me @BangerMashChat in your tweet and I’ll retweet each one I see.
  • As entries come in, links to these will be added to the bottom of this page.
  • At the end of the month a guest judge will choose a winning recipe and the winner this month will receive a Natco hamper.
  • The winner will be announced in a monthly round-up of all the entries.
  • Entries from bloggers all around the world are accepted, but unfortunately the prize can only be shipped to a UK address.
  • All entries will be added to The Spice Trail Pinterest Board.

September’s entries

  1. Eggless Kesar Milk Masala Custard & Sooji Halwa (Sheera) Dessert from CHINSKITCHEN
  2. Kulfi from Cakes from Kim
  3. Saag Paneer from Eat Like You Love Yourself
  4. Curried Cream of Cauliflower Soup from Brittany Jackson
  5. Channa Saag-ish from I’ll Cook, You Wash
  6. Paneer Tikka from Eat Like You Love Yourself
  7. Tandoori Chicken with Coronation Macaroni from Chef Mel’s Kitchen
  8. Vegan Slow Cooker Red Lentil Dhal from Mess Makes Food
  9. Puttu with Kadala Curry from Subha’s Dairy Free Treats
  10. Chicken Tikka Kebabs with Spiced Vegetables from Bangers & Mash
  11. Gujarati Thali from Home Cook Food
  12. Spicy Stuffed Baby Eggplants from Home Cook Food
  13. Dal Bukhara from Home Cook Food
  14. Quinoa Carrot ‘Meatballs’ in Tamarind Sauce from Allotment 2 Kitchen
  15. Vegan Marrow Curry with Tricolour Couscous from Allotment 2 Kitchen
  16. Raitas from Bangers & Mash
  17. Marinated Paneer Salad from Searching for Spice

Summer spice and all things nice…

The rain was verging on torrential yesterday in the Westcountry and I was watching telly last night in slippers and a big woolly jumper, wondering if it is too soon to turn the heating back on. So it seems slightly ironic that I’m now sat here writing a round-up of summer spice dishes. The scorching heat of July seems another world now, but hopefully the thought of these deliciously vibrant recipes will brighten the mood just long enough for the sun to make a reappearance.

Summer Spice Collage 1

We start with these tasty Pudina Paneer Tikki or Mint and Indian Cottage Cheese Patties (1) from Linsy at Home Cook Food. Made with mashed potato, grated carrot and paneer and flavoured with lots of mint, lime, chilli and ginger, these would be delicious served with your favourite chutney – or perhaps some of this mouthwatering Usirikaya Pachadi / Goose Berry Pickle (2) from Shailaja over at Sahasra Recipes. Continue reading “Summer spice and all things nice…”

Mexican month on The Spice Trail

Last month on The Spice Trail I called for your favourite Mexican recipes and boy, did you lot rise to the challenge? The following round-up is a sensational celebration of Mexican cuisine, demonstrating just how diverse and exciting this nation’s food really is.

So let’s get this party started, shall we?

mex1 CollageHow about starting our Mexican feast with a few nibbles? Pridhi from Drizzling Delicacies has brought these Easy Homemade Nacho Chips (1) to the party, flavoured with roasted cumin and totally irresistible. And how about some dips to accompany those nachos? Louisa from Eat Your Veg has made a super easy, super healthy Holy Moly Guacamole! (2), while Nasifriet offers us her Guacomole with a Twist (3) – the twist coming in the form of grey shrimps and tiger prawns.

Grab some crusty bread for this colourful Mexican Oil Dip (4) from Sarah at The Garden Deli, featuring lots of Mexican-inspired flavours such as coriander, chillies, lime and tomato. I think Sarah’s spicy oil would be a wonderful accompaniment to this homemade Queso Fresca (5) from Lapin d’Or and More, which is also perfect served with pasta.

If there’s any bread or nachos left, you can use them to scoop up some of my very messy but incredibly moreish Queso Fundido (6), a Mexican version of fondue topped with spicy chorizo and a fun addition to any gathering.

mex2 Collage

Time to clear away the nibbles and get properly stuck into our Mexican menu. First up is my Black Bean Soup & Chilli Baked Feta (7), a dark and deeply smoky soup which is a perfect match for the spicy, tangy feta cheese.

We’ve a couple of sweet potato dishes next. I love the look of this vibrant Sweet Potato Salsa (8) from Nasifriet, which sounds so zingy and refreshing, and then how about these marvellously vegetastic Sweet Potato, Zucchini and Olive Quesadillas (9) from Johanna at Green Gourmet Giraffe, in which the sweet potato becomes a replacement for cheese.

Similar to cheese-less quesadillas are these Cheater Tlacoyos with Nopales (Cactus) (10) from Janet at The Taste Space. Never having eaten cactus, I am really rather intrigued by these, which are served with a generous helping of refried beans – which I have eaten before and adore.

Janice from Farmersgirl Kitchen brings her take on a Mexican ‘Tortilla’ Bake (11) to our table, which looks so tasty and just the dish for using up a fridgeful of eggs and veggies.

How about following that up with a serving of these Bean Enchiladas (12) from My Kitchen Odyssey, made with blackbeans, mushrooms, chilli, garlic and of course lots of Mexican spice?

mex3 Collage

Linsy from Home Cook Food shows us how to make her versatile Home Made Red Enchiladas Sauce with Roasted Tomatoes (13) next, which as well as being great in enchiladas is also ideal for chimichanga or any other Mexican dish requiring a tomato sauce. Indeed how about trying it in Linsy’s tasty Soy Chorizo and Vegetables Enchiladas (14)?

These Vegan Mexican Tamale Pies (15) from Shaheen at Allotment 2 Kitchen look just so tempting. I really wish she lived closer to me so I could sample some direct from her stall. She describes them as a Mexican version of shepherd’s pie, made from soy mincemeat and beans, topped off with a creamy cornmeal topping. Don’t they sound good?

Holy Mole! We have another stunning vegetarian dish next, this time from Sarah at The Fig Tree, whose Vegetable, Lentil and Bean Mole (16) features a lovely homemade Mexican spice mix as well as a whole host of virtuous veggies and even chocolate. A perfect meatless Monday meal, I reckon.

Beans feature a lot in Mexican cookery and there are no less than 15 different kinds in this Vegetarian Chilli (17) from Linsy at Home Cook Food. She describes it as a thick soup and is good served with quesadillas, corn cakes or  corn bread. I like the way she’s served it with a generous dollop of guacamole on top.

Another chilli next but this time a meaty Chilli con Carne (18) from Julie’s Family Kitchen, another entry to use that classic Mexican addition of dark chocolate. Now doesn’t that look like a satisfying bowlful?

mex4 CollageElle from What the Cook also brings a chilli to our Mexican table but this time it’s a Healthy But Hearty Chilli Con Carne (19), which she says not only tastes divine but also does you a bit of good too. It looks and sounds full of flavour and I like the idea of topping it with both fresh parsley and mint – a combination I haven’t tried before.

Not surprisingly, Martin from Spurs Cook has brought a football theme to our Mexican party with his Chicken Villa-jitas (20) – get it? To be honest, I don’t really understand the football references (I’m more of a rugby girl myself), but I do like the look of Martin’s tasty fajitas, flavoured with lots of cumin, paprika and coriander and I know they’d be a big hit with my kids too.

Dark chocolate with game is a splendid combination, as seen here in this Partridge with Chilli and Chocolate Sauce (21) from Solange at Pebble Soup, which she adapated from a Sophie Grigson recipe to suit her French guests. There’s some great advice about not covering the meat entirely with the chocolate sauce, otherwise it looks rather like… well, you’ll need to read that over on Solange’s blog…

Next up we have some Moreish Mexican Fish Tortillas (22) from Elle at What the Cook. The fish in question is haddock, which has been marinated in a whole host of gorgeous Mexican spices along with both grapefruit and lime juice – doesn’t that sound fantastic?

Finally it’s time to end our Mexican party with a little sweet something, or two. Choclette from Chocolate Log Blog brings us these Mexican Smoked Chilli Energy Bars (23). Perhaps they’re really a little two healthy for a pudding, filled with oats, nuts and dried fruit as well as  some of Gran Luchito’s excellent smoked chilli honey, and possibly more appropriate for breakfast, but I know I could happily tuck into one of these any time of the day.

This Mexican Spiced Chocolate Orange Cake (24) from Cakes From Kim definitely fits the pudding bill though, with its decadent three tiers of truffle-like chocolate cake flavoured with orange and cinnamon. I love the pretty skull decorations too, inspired by the Mexican Dia de los Muertos. What a perfect way to finish off our Mexican feast.

gran luchito gift set

And the winner is…

I think you’ll agree, we received a fantastic range of Mexican-themed recipes for this month’s Spice Trail challenge. But as usual there can only be one winner. So I have great pleasure in handing over to Alex from Gran Luchito to make that all important announcement…

“The overall winner has to be the Moreish Mexican Fish Tortillas from What the Cook. I loved the look of this dish. I can quite easily imagine stuffing my face with these on a beach in Mexico. I like the sound of the various ingredients going into the marinade, but it’s also a recipe which doesn’t seem to require too much messing around. Perfect. Congratulations to Elle at What the Cook who wins a box set of Gran Luchito chilli paste, mayo and honey.”

In acknowledgement of so many fine recipes, Alex has also nominated four more entries to receive runners-up prizes of a jar of chilli paste:

Well done everyone! We’ll get your Gran Luchito goodies out to you in the post as soon as you email me your addresses. Enjoy!

And thanks to everyone that took part in our glorious celebration of Mexican cookery. May’s Spice Trail is being hosted by Solange over at Pebble Soup and the theme this month is Vanilla. I can’t wait to see what dishes you come up with featuring this veritable queen of spices.

spice trail badge long

Wow Vanilla! May’s Spice Trail challenge is now open

spice trail badge long

For the first time, I’ve handed the reigns of The Spice Trail over to a guest host, and the host in question is the very brilliant and superbly talented Solange Berchemin from Pebble Soup.

The theme for May’s challenge is vanilla, a much-loved spice used all over the world. We can’t wait to see all your ideas for sweets and pastries, puddings and desserts, but we are also hoping there might be a few savoury suggestions in the mix too!

For more on how to enter and for details of this month’s fab prize from the good people at Naturally Good Food, do head over to Pebble Soup to join in the vanilla fun.

Thanks to everyone who entered last month’s Mexican challenge. I’m a little behind with the round-up but it’s coming soon, and it’ll be worth waiting for I promise, as there are some brilliant entries in there!