Alejandra is the managing editor of California.com. She's a California native based in the Bay Area and enjoys writing about all things food and travel related. Her work can also be seen in Diablo, T…See full bio
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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!
2 delicata squash, sliced ¼”
2 bunches long carrots, peeled and halved
2 tablespoons Spice Tribe Ancient Halaby
1 pint cherry tomatoes
¼ cup olive oil
2 sprigs oregano
2 sprigs thyme
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
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
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
1 pint figs, halved
1 tablespoon olive oil
¼ cup honey
8 slices crusty bread (about 1 ½” thick)
6 tablespoons butter
2 cloves garlic, smashed
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
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.
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
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
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.
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
Italian flat-leaf parsley, washed, dried, and picked
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
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)
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