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World food ingredients Q&A

(37 Posts)
RomComPhooey Sat 07-May-16 22:02:26

So, I do a lot of cooking from scratch and like experimenting with new ingredients. I was in a real Alladdin's cave of a grocery store today which seemed to stock a properly eclectic mix of middle eastern stuff and east European stuff. I'd love to branch out a bit & thought MN might be place to get ideas about how to use unfamiliar ingredients - particularly spices and flavourings - and how to know whether you're buying good quality stuff.

To get the ball rolling, what is sumac and what is the best way to use it?

CaitAgusMadra Sat 07-May-16 22:29:54

I saw your thread title and immediately thought oooh I must ask about sumac smile

Not much help but following with interest.

I have only ever used it on a traybake (turkey steaks, courgette & peppers with olive oil, lemon zest and sprinkle of sumac. It had a nice citrus zing but not sure how much that was down to the lemon zest...)

RomComPhooey Sat 07-May-16 22:35:54

I found this recipe. Sounds like a useful ingredient. It also says on wiki that it gives things a lemony flavour and is often sprinkled on hummus/mezze - I had always though the red stuff on hummus was paprika!

NannyMarmalade Sun 08-May-16 08:17:05

This is my go-to for Middle Eastern Turkish recipes.

There's a brilliant book titled Persiana you might like to buy.

Anything from Yotam Ottolenghi's website (or books) is good. He writes frequently in the Graun and the Indie.

Sumac is a versatile spice of the coarsely ground dark red berries of the sumac bush native to the ME. It has a tangy lemony flavor and a slightly smoky aftertaste, but it's not sour like lemon juice.

It is used straight from the pack as a topping on cooked dishes like grilled veg (esp aubergine), kebabs or BBQ meat and fish. It can also be sprinkled on dips like yoghurt&cucumber, hummus and it's the main spice used in a fattoush salad.

Serves 6.
2 loaves pita bread
Olive oil
½ tsp sumac
1 heart of Romaine lettuce, chopped
1 English cucumber, chopped
5 Roma tomatoes, chopped
5 red onions, chopped
5 radishes, stems removed, thinly sliced
1 cup chopped fresh parsley and or coriander leaves, stems removed

Juice of one fresh lemon (or lime)
⅓ cup good olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 tsp ground sumac
½ tsp ground cinnamon
scant ¼ tsp ground allspice

Toast the pita bread until it is crisp but not too brown. Heat 3 tbsp of olive oil in a large pan. Break the pita bread into pieces, and place in the heated oil. Fry briefly until browned, tossing frequently. Add salt, pepper and ½ tsp of sumac. Remove the pita chips from the heat and place on paper towels to drain.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the chopped lettuce, cucumber, tomatoes, green onions with the sliced radish and parsley.
To make the vinaigrette, whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil and spices in a small bowl or shake in a jar with the lid on.
Dress the salad with the vinaigrette and toss lightly. Finally, add the pita chips and toss one more time so they begin to take up the juices and serve.

I sometimes add some grilled halloumi cheese and olives. You don't have to fry the pita either if you want a healthier recipe.

RomComPhooey Sun 08-May-16 08:42:34

That fattoush salad sounds lush! Will definitely try it out. We had lunch in a local felafel cafe yesterday & I had the mixed mezze. The fried halloumi had been dusted in flour & spices and tasted amazing.

Pantah630 Sun 08-May-16 09:30:56

Sumac is delicious sprinkled on hard boiled eggs.

hollinhurst84 Sun 08-May-16 09:39:17

I go to tesco sometimes and when I do I browse the huge world food section, and pick one thing grin
Then either Google or just eat it depending what it is. I like trying different stuff and one item doesn't break the bank, if I don't like it then it's not a big problem

magimedi Sun 08-May-16 09:41:14

Sumac is lovely sprinkled on thinly sliced red onions as a salad with any sort of kebab.

Pomegranate mollases (sp?). I have a bottle of this I've just found in my store cupboard (I don't know HTF it got there). What can I use it for?

hollinhurst84 Sun 08-May-16 09:42:30

magimedi Sun 08-May-16 09:55:37

Many thanks flowers

Munchkin08 Sun 08-May-16 10:01:59

Nanny that sounds really nice - I might make it tonight.

NannyMarmalade Sun 08-May-16 10:04:24

I think I will be making it tonight too. It's going to be a really hot day here.

magimedi Sun 08-May-16 22:02:04

Just popping back to say that I made a v quick tomato salsa tonight & used the pomegranate molasses in place of lime/lemon & it was delicious.

OnyK Sun 08-May-16 22:24:19

I've just discovered pomegranate molasses too. I thought it would be sweet, but it's really tangy. I also used it in a salad dressing.
I bought sumac, but not as impressed by its flavour.

RomComPhooey Sun 08-May-16 22:38:07

We have pomegranate molasses in the cupboard. I use it for an authentic Persian lamb recipe a friend gave me. I'm excited to hear there are lots of other uses for it.

cdtaylornats Mon 09-May-16 07:47:04

I often look at these sites for inspiration, Sous Chef for interesting ingredients and recipies.

and Healthy Supplies for grains, pulses and novel items

Cookingongas Mon 09-May-16 18:07:08

I use sumac on grilled seabass with couscous. On eggs. On ready cooked chicken in a salad. It's lovely.

I offer carmague red rice. I have a packet which offers a rice salad as its only suggestion and I don't really fancy it. Any ideas?

RomComPhooey Mon 09-May-16 23:36:23

Can't you just mix your carmargue rice in with normal rice to use it up, giving it a head start if it takes longer to cook? Or mix it with veg & other tasty stuff to stuff peppers with?

squizita Wed 11-May-16 13:22:56

Love this. I use several world ingredients I didn't realise WERE IYSWIM. I grew up in a mixed home in West London where even in the 80s there were sushi bars not for yuppies but the Japanese community of West Acton.

I am really interested in some of the Polish and Russian items, especially in jars. Any tips or ideas?
At the moment I stick to their delicious chocolate bar selections! grin
Also a little Polish girl I see often has what looks like a huge long unflavoured wotsit and I wondered what it is - some kind of snack treat? Like a crisp but too big to scatter hither and yon? Not a posh ingredient but one I'd love to get my DC into.

RomComPhooey Wed 11-May-16 20:46:09

The one Polish ingredient I saw in a local world food emporium recently was Worcestershire sauce with everything on the label in Polish except "Worcester". I'm trying to work out how that got to be a 'thing' and wonder if Polish airmen stationed here in the 2WW got a taste for it. It's a pretty niche thing even here in the UK.

I wish I knew what you use all the unusual veg that you see in the Bangladeshi/Pakistani grocers round here. I know what mooli is, how to cook okra & aubergines, but I have no odea what the long knobbly green things are and how you'd cook with them.

RomComPhooey Wed 11-May-16 20:49:22

Ha! This thread mainly seems to smoking out search terms for my culinary ponderings. "Knobbly green vegetable indian cooking" gives this article. Those are the ones I was thinking of.

OnyK Wed 11-May-16 21:32:44

I bought a jar of whole green picked chillies a while ago in the Eastern European section, I think...any (veggie) ideas on what to use them in?

soundsystem Wed 11-May-16 21:39:26

magimedi use your pomegranate molasses in with the sumac red onion salad - lovely with grilled meat. Um, that's literally all I use it for, so watching with interest for other ideas. Our local Turkish place does an AMAZING red onion salad thing that I could never quite figure out how to recreate. Until, I did, and woke DH up at 4am shouting "Pomegranate molasses!"

Sumac: a quick salad of tinned chickpeas, thinly sliced red onions, some halved cherry tomatoes and halloumi with sumac, olive oil and fresh parsley if you have some.

How about preserved limes? I have some waiting to be part of something interesting!

littleducks Wed 11-May-16 21:44:18

Knobbly green things (karela) :

They are a bit of an acquired taste very bitter nice such mince either lamb or beef recipe in link suggests

RomComPhooey Wed 11-May-16 23:18:27

Thanks littleduck. My curiosity is satisfied. Those bitter gourds sound like something you need to be exposed to in childhood & form a cultural attachment to which gets you past the 'lemonface' stage. I'm pretty sure I will never go to the trouble of trying one.

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