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Travel the World Through Your Taste Buds With Spice Tribe
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Travel the World Through Your Taste Buds With Spice Tribe

Get transported to new culinary lands with Spice Tribe, a Bay Area spice company specializing in blends inspired by international travels.

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12 min read

December 18, 2020

Wanderlust has never been stronger. With international travel essentially ruled out and many travelers still hesitant to hop on a plane, even simple escapes—scenic road trips, staycations close to home, and camping weekends—felt exciting and luxurious this year. While there is hope on the horizon, the thirst for adventure grows stronger by the day, especially now that Californians are stuck at home again. 

Though you might not be able to physically travel and discover a new destination or return to a favorite city in the near future, cooking can help provide a sense of adventure by transporting you to a new place through your taste buds—this is exactly what Trent Blodgett, founder of Spice Tribe, aims to accomplish with his spice blends. The Bay Area chef and avid traveler became inspired to start a small-batch, ethically sourced spice line while traveling around the world from Thailand to Haiti. Throughout his trip, he filled his suitcases with spices and brought them home to experiment with, creating blends that captured the sights, smells, and tastes of the faraway lands he visited. 

Enjoy international tastes at home by incorporating global spices into your cooking. Photo courtesy of Spice Tribe.

Every spice blend offered by Spice Tribe has a story of adventure that Blodgett hopes you can channel at home—whether it be the Long Tail Sunset spice blend, inspired after a day fishing with locals in Thailand; the Mombacho Café spice blend, which came about after exploring Nicaragua’s Mombacho volcano and indulging in flavorful Nicaraguan street food; or the Mama Manje, a Caribbean spice blend created after a trip to Haiti with Every Mother Counts, a nonprofit organization dedicated to making maternity and childbirth safe for all mothers around the globe. The San Francisco spice company now offers 20-plus different products (and works directly with small farms around the world to procure their spices), so there’s no shortage of new places to discover.  

So, the next time you’re consumed by wanderlust, get transported to new culinary lands with Spice Tribe. With the recipes below, you can travel through your taste buds and visit the vibrant marketplaces of Marrakesh, the arid desert of Egypt’s Nile Valley, and the bustling street food stalls of Japan.   

5 Easy Recipes to Satisfy Your Wanderlust

From easy appetizers to dinner ideas inspired by global cultures, these recipes from Spice Tribe and its contributors will expand your horizons and give you an international travel experience in the comfort of your home. 

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1. Miso Butternut Squash and Turmeric Soup

Spiked with piquant Japanese Togarashi chile, this soup will warm you up in no time. Photo courtesy of Lindsey Baruch/Spice Tribe.

Featured spice blend: Kissed by Binchotan, a.k.a. shichimi togarashi, is a red chile pepper blend translating to “seven spice.” Centered around the fruity yet spicy Togarashi chile, this blend is traditionally used in Japan to sprinkle over BBQ skewers after they have been kissed by the hot embers of binchotan charcoal. 

Your ticket to: Japan

Wanting to warm up this winter? Look no further than this satisfying, spicy soup created by Lindsey Baruch of Lindsey Eats L.A. The miso butternut squash and turmeric concoction features an aromatic combination of onions, garlic and ginger spiked with Spice Tribe’s Japanese chile blend. It’ll have you feeling toasty in no time. Best of all, it’s quick and simple to make, so it may just become your new go-to soup this season. 

Ingredients

6 cups water (this will reduce to 4 cups)

4-5 slices kombu

½ cup bonito flakes

1 small onion, chopped

2 tablespoons Spice Tribe Kissed by Binchotan

1 small shallot, chopped

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 Yukon gold potato, cubed

Salt and pepper to taste

1 thumb fresh turmeric, minced/grated

1 teaspoon chili flakes

1 thumb fresh ginger, minced/grated

1 tablespoon miso

2 butternut squash, peeled and cubed


Directions

  1. Add 6 cups of water to a pot to begin your dashi broth. Soak your kombu on medium-low heat. Once it gets soft, bring it to a boil. Remove kombu. Add your bonito flakes and when they go to the bottom of the pot, drain. Set your broth aside.
  2. In a deep pot or dutch oven, sweat out your onions, Japanese blend, shallot, and garlic. Add potatoes. Stir in salt, pepper, turmeric, chili flakes, ginger, and miso. Let everything melt and come together.
  3. Next, add your butternut squash and stir. Once all the flavors are combined, add your homemade dashi broth. Let the soup simmer on medium-low until all your vegetables are fork-tender. Transfer to a blender, and blend until smooth.
  4. Bring back to your pot, warm, and serve. Adjust with salt and pepper.


2. Mezze Platter

This mouthwatering mezze platter featuring Middle Eastern spices is bound to impress. Photo courtesy of Kayla Howey/Spice Tribe.

Featured spice blend: Ancient Halaby is a blend of Aleppo chiles and sumac, a citrus-ey berry native to the Middle East.
Your ticket to: the Middle East

“This blend is a tribute to the resilient and inspiring people of this land. A delicious addition to seafood, chicken and even lamb, it is one of the first spice blends I ever made and will forever be one of my favorites.” —Trent Blodgett

Kayla Howey of The Original Dish added some Middle Eastern flair to her show-stopping mezze platter by using Spice Tribe’s Ancient Halaby blend, which livens up the Insta-worthy spread with bold, citrusy flavors. For those who are unfamiliar with mezze, it is essentially an assortment of small bites served together as an appetizer. The Ancient Halaby comes into play with the pumpkin hummus and spiced roasted veggies, carrying the fantastic flavors throughout the spread and creating an authentic feel to it all. 

Note that this mezze platter is meant to serve a crowd, so pick and choose which items you’d like to include on your platter to make it as small or large as you need. Don’t hesitate to get creative and mix and match!

Ingredients

Spiced Roasted Vegetables

2 delicata squash, sliced ¼”

2 bunches long carrots, peeled and halved

Olive oil

2 tablespoons Spice Tribe Ancient Halaby

Roasted Tomatoes

1 pint cherry tomatoes

¼ cup olive oil

2 sprigs oregano

2 sprigs thyme

Pumpkin Hummus

1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained

½ cup pumpkin puree

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon lemon zest

1 tablespoon honey

1 tablespoon water

1 teaspoon Spice Tribe Ancient Halaby

Tzatziki Sauce

1 ½ cups Greek yogurt

3 tablespoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon lemon zest

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 cloves garlic, grated

2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill

1 ½ cups chopped cucumber

Marinated Feta & Artichokes

8 ounces block feta cheese, drained and cubed

½ cup olive oil

1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano

Freshly cracked black pepper

1 (14-ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained and halved

¼ cup olive oil

2 tablespoons chopped parsley leaves

Honeyed Figs

1 pint figs, halved

1 tablespoon olive oil

¼ cup honey

Toasted Bread with Sesame Garlic Butter

8 slices crusty bread (about 1 ½” thick)

6 tablespoons butter

2 cloves garlic, smashed

2 tablespoons sesame seeds

Extras

Olives

Dried apricots

Grapes

Pistachios

Cured meats


Directions

Spiced Roasted Vegetables

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Lay the delicata squash slices onto a sheet pan and the carrots onto another. Toss each with a generous amount of olive oil, a good pinch of salt, and 1 tablespoon of the spice blend.
  2. Spread the vegetables into an even layer. Roast for 45 minutes until tender and caramelized.

Roasted Tomatoes

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Combine the whole cherry tomatoes, olive oil, and herbs in a small skillet. Sprinkle with a good pinch of salt.
  2. Roast for 45 minutes until burst and softened.

Pumpkin Hummus

  1. Combine the chickpeas, pumpkin puree, olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, honey, water, and spice blend in a food processor.
  2. Blend for about 2–3 minutes until smooth, scraping down the sides as needed. Season with salt to taste.

Tzatziki Sauce

  1. Combine the Greek yogurt, lemon juice, lemon zest, olive oil, and garlic in a mixing bowl. Whisk until combined.
  2. Stir in the fresh dill and cucumbers. Season with salt to taste.

Marinated Feta & Artichokes

  1. Gently toss the feta, olive oil, and oregano in a small bowl. Season with freshly cracked black pepper. Let marinate for 20 minutes or so.
  2. Gently toss the artichokes, olive oil, and parsley in another small bowl. Season with a pinch of salt. Let marinate for 20 minutes or so.

Honeyed Figs

  1. Combine the figs, olive oil, and honey. Mix well and season with a pinch of salt.
  2. Let marinate for 20 minutes or so.

Toasted Bread with Sesame Garlic Butter

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Lay the slices of bread out onto a sheet pan.
  2. Combine the butter, garlic, and sesame seeds in a small saucepan. Melt over low heat. Brush each slice of bread on both sides with the butter.
  3. Toast the bread for about 8 minutes or so until crisp and golden. Cut the slices of bread in half.

To assemble the Mezze Platter

  1. Arrange each component on a large serving board or platter.
  2. Fill in the holes with the olives, dried apricots, grapes, pistachios, and cured meats. Serve the toasted bread alongside.

 

3. One-Pot Saffron Chicken Rice 

In need of quick, easy dinner? Look no further than this flavorful and unique take on biryani. Photo courtesy of Asha Shivakumar/Spice Tribe.

Featured spice blends: Maras Chile Flakes and Black Cumin—the latter of which features cumin from the wilds of the Northeastern province of Badakhshan and Baghlan in Afghanistan, where the spice has been harvested for centuries. It is traditionally used in Northern India and parts of the Middle East in stews, curries, and grilled meats.  

Your ticket to: North India and the Middle East

“The Maras chile, also known as the Aleppo pepper or Halaby Pepper, is hands down one of our favorites due to its versatile, mild heat and warm, fruity, and tomato-like flavor.” —Trent Blodgett

Asha Shivakumar of Food Fashion Party shares her take on one of her beloved childhood favorites: biryani. Her saffron chicken rice recipe is inspired by Turkish biryani and is simple enough to make on a weeknight. Best of all, it requires only one pot, which means a quick and easy cleanup (that’s definitely something we can get behind). With few ingredients, bold flavors—thanks to a good dose of saffron and Spice Tribe’s Maras Chile Flakes and Black Cumin—and simple directions, this heavenly recipe is a winner. 

Ingredients

Spice Mixture

¼ teaspoon saffron

1 teaspoon coarse maras chili flakes/ or coarse Aleppo pepper dried flakes

¼ teaspoon turmeric

½ tsp freshly ground pepper

1 teaspoon flaky salt

Rice

2 tablespoons light flavored oil + 2 tablespoons oil

2 chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 teaspoon raw black cumin seeds/kali jeera

1 onion, finely chopped

4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1½ cups vegetable or chicken stock

Bouquet garni of 1 star anise, 4 cardamom, 5 cloves, ½ inch cinnamon

1 cup fried crispy onions

1 cup rice, short-grain or basmati (washed and soaked for 15 minutes)

Cilantro, for garnish


Directions

  1. Mix the spices together and set aside.
  2. In a large pan, add oil and toss in the chicken; don't move it around for a minute. Sprinkle all the spices over the chicken, then saute it well and brown all the sides. Cook it halfway through and place it in a bowl.
  3. In the same pan, add another 2 tablespoons of oil and black cumin seeds, then saute. Throw in the onion and garlic, saute it on low to medium heat for about a minute, until the onions are soft. Add the browned chicken, stock, and bouquet garni in the middle. Check for salt. Add half the fried onions, carefully add rice, and toss in the remaining fried onions. Let it come to a boil.
  4. Once it comes to a boil, lower the heat completely, cover the pan, and simmer for about 20 minutes. At this point, you can keep the pan on dum over another griddle so the bottom doesn't scorch. Use a very tight lid, and use a kitchen towel to cover if you have steam releasing out of the pan.
  5. After 20 minutes, turn off the heat and let it rest for another 15 minutes. Garnish with cilantro, then serve.


4. Delicata Squash with Burrata and Toasted Pistachios 

This colorful vegetarian dish perfumed with toasted coriander seeds makes for a show-stopping side. Photo courtesy of Spice Tribe.

Featured spice blend: Oasis Coriander Seeds are 100-percent organically grown in Northern Egypt, near the Faiyum Oasis in the western desert of the Nile Valley; the spice has been used in this area since ancient times. Coriander is the seed of the cilantro plant and imparts a slight citrus aroma, which benefits from being toasted in a dry pan to bring out a nutty depth and crunchy texture.

Your ticket to: Egypt

Blodgett’s delicata squash with burrata and toasted pistachios is an explosion of flavor and is the perfect side dish to add to your list of healthy holiday recipes. The soft burrata, crunchy pistachios, and sweet squash—enhanced only by a little salt, pepper, and coriander—make this an easy go-to. Blodgett says, “The technique of blooming the spices and pistachios in the oil not only adds a wonderful crunchy texture but also creates an infused oil that acts as the dressing.” Our mouths are watering already.

Ingredients

2 delicata squash, cut in half lengthwise, seeded and sliced into ½” thick slices

3 tablespoons olive oil

Pinch of pink Peruvian salt

⅓ cup raw unsalted pistachios, shelled

1 tablespoon coriander seeds

A couple of grinds of Late Harvest Black Peppercorns

Burrata

Italian flat-leaf parsley, washed, dried, and picked


Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Place squash slices into a mixing bowl, and toss with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and salt; place on a sheet tray in a single layer.
  3. Roast squash until the edges are well browned and the flesh is soft (about 15 minutes).
  4. While squash is in the oven, combine pistachios and remaining olive oil and sauté over medium heat, stirring frequently until fragrant and nutty, about three minutes.
  5. Add coriander seeds and sauté while continuing to move the pan so they don’t burn.
  6. Cook until the coriander is golden brown, then remove from heat.
  7. Season with salt and pepper.
  8. Place burrata in the middle of a ceramic platter.
  9. Remove squash from the oven and arrange around the burrata.
  10. Pour the spiced pistachio oil over the burrata and delicata squash.
  11. Garnish with parsley leaves and serve immediately.


5. Brussels Sprouts with pancetta and maple sherry vinaigrette

Another simple yet delectable dish, these sticky-sweet brussels sprouts laced with crispy pancetta will be a new fave. Photo courtesy of Spice Tribe.

Featured spice blend: Kissed By Binchotan Japanese Chile Blend

Your ticket to: Japan

Another easy side dish from Blodgett, these delectable brussels sprouts with pancetta are bound to please anyone (even picky eaters will forget they’re eating vegetables). The recipe is relatively quick and a perfect pairing for pork, roast turkey, or even just a pile of mashed potatoes. 

“The sweet and tart of the glaze combined with crispy pancetta and brussels will make this a favorite among your family and friends.” —Trent Blodgett

Ingredients

5 ounces pancetta, cut into ½” cubes

2.5 tablespoons maple syrup

1 tablespoon sherry vinegar

1 tablespoon fish sauce

High heat all-purpose olive oil, if needed

1 bunch of brussels sprouts, trimmed and cut in half and patted dry

1 teaspoon Kissed By Binchotan Japanese Chile Blend

Salt (to taste)

 

Directions

  1. Preheat the broiler on high, and move the oven rack so it’s at the highest level.
  2. Add pancetta to a cast-iron pan, and turn on the heat to medium-high to render the fat until the pancetta is crispy (about seven minutes). Stir occasionally for even browning.
  3. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine maple syrup, sherry, and fish sauce to create a glaze.
  4. Remove pancetta to a plate, retaining the fat in the pan.
  5. Increase the heat to high, adding a little bit more oil to the pancetta fat if needed (to ensure an even layer of fat in the pan).
  6. When the oil is hot, place the brussels sprouts (flat-side down) in the oil. Make sure not to overlap; you want one even layer.
  7. Cook brussels sprouts over high heat for about two to three minutes, until golden brown on the flat side—do not stir.
  8. Pop them under the broiler to brown the top side.
  9. Cook for two to four minutes, depending on size, until golden brown.
  10. Remove the cast-iron pan from the oven (use an oven mitt!), and put it back on the stove over medium-high heat.
  11. Immediately pour glaze over brussels sprouts, and reduce liquid while stirring for about one to two minutes, until the brussels sprouts are caramelized.
  12. Add pancetta, Kissed by Binchotan Japanese Chile Blend, and salt.

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