I do love to travel. I really do. But the truth is, I’m a complete homebody. I like to be near my stuff, my kitchen, and my dog. I thrive on routine when it comes to everyday living, but I’m an adventurous eater. To break out of any sort of dietary similitude, I often play around with unfamiliar flavours in the comforts of home. While I recognize that baharat––a gorgeously heady spice blend reminiscent of garam masala, but spicier and herbier––may be old hat to many of you, it’s completely new to me. Living in a town where the grocery stores will never carry baharat in my lifetime, I have to take matters into my own hands. So, I’ve rolled up my sleeves and created a new-favourite lunch that takes care of my contradictory ways––I can stay at home and experience the bold flavours of abroad.
I was sent these stunningly designed packages of Israeli spices from a Canadian company called Spice Post. Spice Post, much like any other -of-the-month mail order idea, sends two unique (as in, only available at specialty food stores) spices from a specific region of the world each month. Accompanying is a stock card of information about the particular spices and oodles of recipes using these more unusual blends on the back. Ideas galore.
I know I’m not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but, hello. The labels and drawings are eye-popping, and that spy-agent-esque brown paper envelope containing the baharat and za’atar? Well, that’s just too hip for words.
“I don’t even know if I’m cool enough to use this product,” I thought to myself.
Nevertheless, I’d never used baharat and needed to see what all the fuss was about. Much to the pleasure of my taste buds, baharat is going on everything I eat now.
For instance, I tossed the baharat with sweet potato cubes, salt, and coconut oil for a roasted vegetable experience that practically lifted me off my feet. Then, I added it to a cucumber salad with a little plain yogurt and red wine vinegar––divine. Next, a bean and tomato stew that I draped over creamy polenta, which made me wiggle with delight in my seat. I’ve been possessed by baharat and am not looking to be exorcised any time soon. In fact, I may go into a bit of baharat withdrawal when my package is finished.
As the baharat is so complex and rich, the salad components are kept simple, fresh, and light. It plays beautifully off the sweetness of the peas and creamy chickpeas, making them shine. Perking things up is a little bitter radicchio, earthy carrot, and salty feta. To bring it all together, the colourful ingredients get tossed simply in olive oil and lemon juice before tumbling to their final destination in a bowl lined with delicate butter lettuce leaves. If you can’t find baharat, try za’atar with a little ground pepper and clove added in for a similar experience.
I recommend you check out Spice Post. I was incredibly pleased with the freshness and intensity of their spices, and look forward to travelling to more regions of the world within the comforts of my own kitchen. In the meantime, please enjoy this almost-springtime salad featuring Spice Post’s baharat blend.
- ½ cup chickpeas
- ¼ cup fresh of frozen, defrosted green peas
- 1 small carrot, julienned or grated
- 3 to 4 large leaves radicchio, thinly sliced
- 2 green onions, diced
- 3 tablespoons crumbled sheep's milk feta cheese
- 2 teaspoons Baharat spice blend or Za'atar (if using Za'atar, consider adding ground black pepper and a pinch of ground cloves)
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- ½ head butter lettuce (also called Boston or bibb lettuce), leaves separated, kept whole
- In a large bowl, toss together all ingredients except butter lettuce.
- Line a large, wide bowl with lettuce leaves and fill with prepared chickpea mixture. Serve.
- Season to taste with salt, if desired. I didn't add any as the feta I used was very salty.
Disclaimer: I was given a package of spices by Spice Post. I was not obligated to review their product on Yummy Beet. All opinions are my own.