THE NIBBLE BLOG: Products, Recipes & Trends In Specialty Foods
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TIP OF THE DAY: Indian Spice Blends

[1] Amchoor, an ingredient of chaat masala. A fruity spice powder made from dried unripe green mangoes, it adds citrusy notes (photo courtesy La Boite NYC).

[2] Asafoetida, the dried gum of the taproot of an herb, is ground into a powder (photo courtesy Jain Dry Fruits).

Indian Black Rock Salt
[3] Black rock salt, another ingredient in chaat masala (photo courtesy Nutty Yogi).

Madras Curry Powder
[4] Madras curry powder. The yellow color comes from turmeric. Here’s a recipe to mix your own, from Sel et Sucre.

Malaysian Curry Powder
[5] Malaysian curry powder. Here’s a recipe from Kevin Is Cooking.

Panch Phoron - Indian Five Spice
[6] Panch phoron, Indian Five Spice. Here’s a recipe to mix your own, from Veg Recipes Of India.


Do you know the difference between garam masala and chaat masala? Madras curry powder and Malaysian curry powder?

We were cowed by what we didn’t know about Indian spice blends. Thanks to Raw Spice Bar for the following clarification.

While every cook or company can use a different blend, or different proportions of ingredients, here’s an overview.

Chaat Masala is the go-to spice blend for most Indian snacks, street foods, roasted and fried food and salads. Its tangy flavor profile comes from key notes of amchoor, asafoetida and black salt.

Raw Spice Bar’s blend includes ajwain (a.k.a. ajowan caraway, carom), asafoetida (from the taproot of a perennial herb), black peppercorns, black salt, cumin, dried mint, ginger, paprika, red chiles, toasted amchoor (green mango powder) and toasted coriander.

Says Raw Spice Bar: Punctuate any vegetarian dish (especially chickpeas—which are bursting with protein and fiber), or use as a topping on eggs, salads, curries or fresh fruits. Check out these recipes.

A staple of North Indian cooking, garam masala is made with more than 15 spices. The blend is popularly used in chicken tikka masala, curries, dals and vegetables.

Whole spices are toasted and then ground: bay leaves, black cardamom, black cumin, black peppercorns, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, cumin, fennel, fenugreek, ginger, green cardamom, nutmeg and star anise.

Check out these recipes from Raw Spice Bar and Yummly.

Madras curry powder and Malaysian curry powder have similar ingredients. The main differentiator is that Madras curry powder has more heat.

The base is turmeric, with cassia and fenugreek for an earthy sweetness. Red Kashmiri chiles provide heat.

Additional ingredients include black peppercorns, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, curry leaves, fenugreek seeds and green cardamom.

Use Madras curry powder dahls, slow cooked lentils and vegetable curries. For Western fusion, add it to curried egg salad, potato salad or tuna salad. Here are recipes.

Malaysian curry powder is an earthier, milder version of a Madras curry powder, with a turmeric base.

A base of turmeric includes black peppercorns, chiles, cinnamon, cloves, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, green cardamom and fennel seeds.

It’s frequently used in slow-cooked stews, stir-fries and vegetable curries. As with Madras curry, add make curried egg, potato or tuna salad/

Here are some recipes.

Masala chai spices are brewed in black tea; milk is added for an aromatic, palate-seductive hot beverage.

Base ingredients include black peppercorns, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, green cardamom, nutmeg, star anise, fennel & cloves. Other ingredients such as allspice can be added.

In addition to chai lattes, add masala chai to cookies, muffins and puddings. Check out these recipes.

Our panch phoran, which means “five spices,” contains five toasted spices: black mustard seeds, cumin seeds, fennel seeds, fenugreek and nigella.

The spices are typically added to oil or ghee over medium heat, the spices toasted until they pop.

The blend is perfect for tossing into—or sprinkling atop—dals, roasted potatoes or vegetables.

Try these recipes.

Tandoori masala is the core flavor base of Northern India’s popular tandoori-style dishes. made with 12+ spices.

The blend can be made of 12 or more spices. Raw Spice Bar’s blend includes black peppercorns, cayenne chiles, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, cumin, garlic, ginger, green cardamom, Kashmiri chiles, nutmeg, paprika and turmeric.

The spice blend is Use to marinate chicken, meat, seafood or vegetables in a yogurt spice mix; the food is then cooked tandoori-style, charred over high heat.

Try one of these recipes.


You don’t have to make Indian recipes to use Indian spices. We live in a world of fusion food.

Add the spices to cottage cheese and yogurt, dips, grains, potatoes, salads and soups. Shake them on homemade potato or vegetable chips and popcorn.

Everything is yours for the spicing.

Masala is an Indian term for a spice mix in certain proportions; the word derives from the Arabic masalih).

A masala can be either a combination of dried (usually dry-roasted) spices, or a paste made from a mixture of spices and other ingredients (often garlic, ginger, onions, chilli paste and tomato).



RECIPE: Portobello ‘Steak’ & Salad

In keeping with the trends to more plant-based meals, this tasty recipe uses the “meatiest” mushrooms, portobellos.

(Is it portobello, portabella or portobella? Here’s the scoop.)

When cremini mushrooms (photo #3) are allowed to continue growing, they grow up into more complex-flavored portabellas, meaty in both taste and appearance (photo #2).

Portabellas can be from 3 to 10 inches in diameter. Like meat, they even release juices when cooked. Vegetarians enjoy them grilled in lieu of beef, and they make wonderful grilled vegetable sandwiches.

Portobellos are brown, with a slightly firmer texture than white mushrooms. They can be served whole or sliced, stuffed, or as “burgers” or “sliced steak,” as in the recipe below.

For a simple yet delectable starter, serve sliced grilled portobello drizzled with a balsamic reduction. The mushrooms are cultivated and available year-round.

You can have your plant-based steak and eat it, too, with this portobello “steak” recipe (photo #1).

This recipe was created by Lindsey Baruch, a Los Angeles-based food photographer and recipe developer. She used Califia’s Go Coconuts coconut milk, a blend of coconut milk and coconut water, in the recipe.

“The taste and texture of a portobello “steak” is life-changing,” says Lindsey, “and can be marinated to any flavor. This recipe is easy with room to make it your own.”

The mushrooms are joined by a refreshing green salad of watercress, mint and cucumbers.
Ingredients For The Mushrooms

  • 4-5 portabella mushrooms (photo #2)
  • 1/4 cup Califia Go Coconuts coconut milk (photo #4)
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons hot sauce (or to taste)
  • 2 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon chili flakes
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Oil for skillet
    Ingredients For the Salad

  • 2 Persian cucumbers
  • 5-6 thinly sliced radish
  • Bundle of watercress
  • Bundle of mint
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Salt and pepper to taste

    1. MAKE a marinade of the coconut milk, soy sauce, hot sauce, toasted sesame seeds, vinegar, chili flakes, salt and pepper. Marinate the mushrooms for 1 hour. While they’re marinating…

    2. PREPARE the salad. Slice the cucumbers and radishes and combine with with the mint and watercress. Add the lemon juice, salt and pepper and toss right before serving.

    3. HEAT a skillet with a drizzle of oil. Cook the portobellos until charred and crispy on the outside and cooked through on the inside (you can eat them “rare” if you prefer). Let them rest for 5 minutes and slice as you would a steak (see photo #1).

    4. SERVE with the salad, and a glass of red or white wine.


    Portabella 'Steak' & Salad
    [1] It may look like sliced steak, but they’re the vegetable equivalent: portobello mushrooms (photo courtesy Lindsey Baruch | A Life With Peace).

    Portabella Mushrooms
    [2] Portabella mushrooms (photo courtesy Sweet Peas And Saffron, which stuffs them with lasagna ingredients—here’s the recipe).

    Cremini Mushrooms
    [3] Cremini mushrooms (photo courtesy Good Eggs).

    Califia Go Coconuts Coconut Milk
    [4] Califia’s Go Coconuts coconut milk (photo courtesy Milk And Eggs).




    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Califia Farms

    Califia Unsweetened Almond Milk
    [1] Exceptional-quality almond milk is available in original unsweetened plus 10 flavors (both photos courtesy Califia Farms).

    Califia Vanilla Better Half
    [2] In additions to coffee creamers, there are three flavors of “half and half.”

    Butternut Squash Soup
    [3] Enjoy creamy foods guilt-free (here’s the recipe for this Thai butternut squash soup).


    There are many quality brands of dairy-free creamers made from nuts and plants. One that we have a weakness for is Califia Farms.

    The California-based brand has bent over backwards to create a dairy-free line of products that offers just about everything in plant-based versions. There are:

  • Nut milks, primarily almond milks with some coconut milks
  • Coffee creamers and “half and half”
    In addition, there are:

  • Cold brew coffees
  • Probiotic dairy free yogurts and citrus juices
    The line is extensive. For example, in three products alone:

  • Almond milk in original unsweetened plus 10 flavors
  • Coffee creamers in original unsweetened plus 3 flavors
  • Better Half (half and half) in original sweetened, original unsweetened and vanilla
    There are also seasonal flavors (mint cocoa, pumpkin, etc.).

    In fact, there are so many products that you have to head to and see them for yourself.

    The reason the products are so good are the nuts. The better the almonds, for example, the better the almond milk.

    And the curvy bottles always make us smile.

    The products are all non-GMO. Everything is made with natural ingredients, with a focus on reduced sugar in products that typically contain them, and with unsweetened products. The line is carrageeenan-free* and certified kosher by OU.

    Many Americans seek to add more plant-based products to their diets.

  • More healthful. No cholesterol, saturated fat or lactose; rich in calcium, vitamins D, E and A; and far fewer calories than dairy milks. Nut milks also have 50% more protein than dairy milks.
  • Concern for animal welfare. No cows in feedlots here.
  • Concern for sustainability. Plant-based foods require less water and far less land pollution than animal-based products.

  • Check out the store locator.
  • Shop direct from shop direct from or your favorite online grocer.
  • No luck? Email with the name and address of the retailer you’d like to carry the products.

    *Some people avoid the thickener and emulsifier carrageenan. While it is a natural ingredient made from red seaweed, some evidence suggests that carrageenan triggers inflammation and gastrointestinal ulcerations. Here’s more information about it. Califia replaced the carrageenan a different natural thickener, locust bean gum, which is extracted from the seeds of the carob tree.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Beyond Classic Hummus (Other Ways To Make & Serve This Popular Dip)

    Over the last two decades, hummus has evolved from a mezze at Middle Eastern and Mediterranean restaurants to the hottest, most nutritious dip and spread at supermarkets nationwide. It’s the darling of nutritionists, nutritious and versatile, and a better-for-you snack.

    It also is welcome to vegans, kosher consumers and the lactose intolerant.

    Hummus is a thick paste that originated in the Middle East (see the history below). The classic recipe has two main ingredients, ground chickpeas (garbanzo beans) and tahini, a paste of toasted sesame seeds; along with olive oil, lemon and garlic.

    The word hummus is Arabic, meaning chickpeas. The full name of the spread is hummus bi tahina, chickpeas with tahini.

    Americans, most of whom first discovered hummus served with pita, a Middle Eastern flatbread, turned it into a general dip for crudités and tortilla chips, and a sandwich spread. If you didn’t order it at a restaurant or live near a neighborhood with an international market that carried it, you made your own hummus: the recipe couldn’t be easier.

    As American cooks have riffed on the original recipe, hummus first became flavored. New ones seem to appear monthly to keep customers interested, often as limited editions which may then become permanent parts of the line.

    First there were Middle-Eastern-related flavors: Artichoke, Garlic, Red Pepper, Spinach, Za’atar (and other spices).

    Then, the door opened: Beet, Caramelized Onion, Carrot, Cucumber, Everything (like an “everything” bagel), Horseradish, Sundried tomato,Lemon Rosemary Red Pepper, Sweet Roasted Red Peppers, Vine Ripened Tomato & Basil and Zesty Spice & Garlic, among others.

    Fusion flavors include Cilantro, Chimichurri, Edamame, Guacamole, Kalamata Olive, Lemongrass Chili, Pumpkin, Ranch, Sriracha/Thai Chili.

    The lesson is: If you like a particular flavor, try stirring it into hummus.

    The Eat Well hummus brand pioneered the use of other legumes and pulses* in a supermarket brand, with spreads made from:

  • Black beans
  • Edamame
  • Red lentils
  • White beans
  • Yellow lentils
    The sophisticated flavors of these “other bean hummus” varieties, all part of the Mediterranean Diet, provide wonderful alternatives to classic hummus.

    Like chickpeas, beans and legumes contribute protein, fiber and healthy (monounsaturated) fat, low in sodium and cholesterol free.

    Another innovation was to add Greek yogurt to classic chickpea hummus. It lowers the fat by 50% and the calories by 33%.

    Other brands followed suit, and now these variations can be found in markets nationwide.

    Restaurant chefs, as well, have been contributing to the variety.

  • The King & Duke restaurant in Atlanta serves a White Bean and Rosemary Hummus with toasted pita chips.
  • E+O Food and Drink, in Mount Prospect, Illinois, makes Smoked Pea Hummus served with fried cauliflower and toasted almonds.
    Hummus fever has engendered the preparation of other purées.

  • Young Joni pizzeria in Minneapolis serves a purée of cauliflower, topped with shishito peppers, saffron chermoula, pickled Fresno chiles, golden raisins and almond picada.
  • El Five in Denver makes golden beet-yogurt purée, popularly served with Chicken Kofta.
    So lesson #2: Don’t hesitate to make hummus with other legumes—including a mix of legumes. And adapt the concept to turning puréed vegetables into dips and spreads.

    You can also use flavored olive oil instead of plain; add another layer of flavor with nut oil (almond, hazelnut, walnut, etc.).

    Beyond snacking with vegetables or chips, you can use hummus in every meal of the day. Use it in its paste form, or dilute it into a sauce with olive oil.

  • Breakfast: Spread it on toast.
  • Lunch: Add it to vinaigrette, use it as a sandwich spread.
  • Dinner: Make a sauce for grains and vegetables, top a baked potato, use it instead of pizza sauce for a Middle Eastern pizza.

    Chickpeas, sesame, lemon, and garlic have been eaten in the Levant† for millennia. Though widely consumed, chickpeas were cooked in stews and other hot dishes. Puréed chickpeas eaten cold with tahini do not appear before the Abbasid period (750 to 1517 C.E.) in Egypt and the Levant†.

    The earliest known recipes for a dish similar to hummus are in 13th-century cookbooks from Cairo. Some food historians believe the paste appeared a century earlier, prepared by Saladin, the first sultan of the Ayyubid dynasty (1174–1193). If so, it was more likely created by a cook in his kitchen, the idea of the warlord Saladin-as-cook being tough to swallow.

    Recipes for cold purée of chickpeas without tahini, but with vinegar, oil, pickled lemons, herbs and spices—but no garlic—appear in medieval cookbooks; as do recipes with nuts vinegar (though not lemon), with many spices and herbs.

    Whomever and however, we’re grateful that it came to be part of our [almost] daily diet.

  • Almond Hummus Recipe
  • Asparagus Hummus
  • Beyond Dipping: More Ways To enjoy Hummus
  • Black Garlic Hummus Recipe
  • Carrot Hummus Recipe
  • Carrot Top Hummus
  • Dessert Hummus
  • Easy Hummus Recipe
  • Green Hummus Recipe
  • Hummiki: Combine Hummus & Tzatziki
  • Hummus Salad
  • Hummus Sushi
  • Make Your Signature Hummus
  • Nacho Hummus & Hummus Tacos
  • Rancho Gordo Hummus Recipe
  • Turn Plain Hummus Into Flavored Hummus
  • 20 Ways To Make A Hummus Sandwich

    Butternut Squash Hummus
    [1] Flavor fusion: New flavors of hummus include ingredients not native to the Mediterranean, like this pumpkin hummus (photo courtesy Good Eggs)

    Hummus Tacos
    [2] Hummus tacos. Here’s the recipe, along with hummus nachos, from Mountain Mama Cooks.

    Hummus Flatbread
    [3] New uses for hummus: hummus pizza (photo courtesy The Purple Carrot plant-based meal delivery).

    Hummus Bites - Snacks
    [4] Hummus canapés a.k.a. “bites” (photo courtesy Lantana Hummus).

    Hummus Salad
    [5] Hummus salad. Here’s the recipe from Zoe’s Kitchen.

    Cucumber & Hummus Sushi
    [6] Hummus sushi with bell pepper and cucumber. Here’s how to make your own. (photo courtesy Genji Sushi).

    Hummus Cranberry Turkey Wrap
    [7] Turkey cranberry sauce wrap with hummus (photo courtesy She Wears Many Hats).


    * The term pulse is used for crops harvested solely for the dry seed, such as lentils; as opposed to green peas, which are eaten fresh like vegetable crops, and can be eaten in younger forms, e.g. pea shoots.

    †The Levant is an English term that first appeared in 1497. It originally referred to the “Mediterranean lands east of Italy.” The historical area comprises modern-day Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine and Syria. Among other popular foods, Levantine cuisine gave birth to baklava, balafel, kebabs, mezze (including tabbouleh, hummus and baba ghanoush), pita and za’atar, among other dishes that are enjoyed in the U.S. and around the world.


    TIP OF THE DAY: Red Grapefruit, A Winter Treasure

    Red Grapefruit Crostini
    [1] Grapefruit and goat cheese crostini. Enjoy them with a glass of sparkling rosé (photo courtesy Fit Mitten Kitchen).

    Red Grapefruit
    [2] Sliced red grapefruit (photo courtesy Fit Mitten Kitchen).

    Grapefruit Avocado Salad
    [3] Fill an avocado half with red grapefruit, plain or lightly tossed with flavored olive oil or a sweet vinaigrette (photo courtesy Rio Star).

    Grapefruit Fizz
    [4] A grapefruit fizz (photo courtesy Belvedere Vodka).


    It’s red grapefruit season: the sweetest and most colorful of the grapefruit varieties.

    After tasting it, you won’t even want pink grapefruit anymore.

    Red grapefruit started as a mutation of pink grapefruit. It was originally discovered growing on a pink grapefruit tree in Texas. (Pink grapefruit itself was a mutation of white grapefruit.)

    Since then, it has been embraced even by people who don’t like tart white grapefruit. There are a number of different brands, such as Ruby Red and Rio Star. Bonus: The darker the flesh, the more antioxidants.

    You can read more about red grapefruit by following the links below. First, we tempt you with this delicious appetizer, an easy recipe from Fit Mitten Kitchen.

    Serve them with a rosé sparkling wine (Martini and Yellowtail are two of our favorite, affordable brands).

    Prep time is 20 minutes. Here’s the difference between crostini and bruschetta.

    Ingredients For 18-24 Pieces

  • 1 large baguette
  • 5 ounces fresh goat cheese
  • 1-2 medium avocados
  • 2-3 large grapefruits
  • 1 handful fresh basil
  • Optional: honey for drizzling

    1. LINE a cooling rack with paper towels. Cut the grapefruits into segments: Here’s how to segment a grapefruit in 60 seconds. Carefully place the segments on the paper towels and set aside.

    2. PREHEAT the oven to 325°F, or toast in a toaster oven. Slice the baguette on the bias, about 1″ thick. Place the slices directly on the rack and toast until lightly golden, about 5 minutes. When finished, remove from the oven and place on a serving tray.

    While the baguette is toasting, slice the avocados into thin slices.

    3. SPREAD about ½ tablespoon of goat cheese on each crostini slice, then layer on avocado slice, then the grapefruit segment. Rub the fresh basil leaves between your fingertips to release the fragrant aroma, then garnish the crostini. Add the optional honey and serve immediately.

  • The Different Types Of Red Grapefruit
  • Grapefruit History
  • Red Grapefruit Garnishes
  • Ruby Red Grapefruit

  • Appetizer: Citrus Bruschetta With Blue Cheese
  • Beverage: Grapefruit Rosemary Water
  • Cocktail: Grapefruit & Basil With Grapefruit Vodka
  • Cocktail: Grapefruit Fizz
  • Cocktail: Grapefruit Mimosa
  • Cocktail: Grapefruit Thai Basil Cocktail
  • Cocktail: Grapefruit Vodka Cooler
  • Cocktail: Red Grapefruit Collins
  • Salad/Side/Starter: Raw Scallops With Grapefruit
  • Salad/Side/Starter: Citrus Asparagus
  • Salad/Side/Starte: Red Grapefruit, Jicama & Radish Salad
  • Salad/Side/Starter: Grapefruit & Apple Mint Sushi Roll With Honey Chili Dipping Sauce
  • Main: Red Grapefruit & Black Bean Chiles Rellenos
  • Salad/Side/Starter: Spinach Salad With Grapefruit
  • Main: Citrus Salmon with Orange Relish
  • Main: Seared Scallops With Red Grapefruit-Avocado Salad
  • Main: Steamed Shrimp With Spicy Grapefruit
  • Dessert: Mini Cheesecakes With Grapefruit Tops
  • Dessert: Red Grapefruit Crème Brûlée
  • Dessert: Red Grapefruit Granita



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