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Monday, 19 September 2011

Spice of Life

Saturday afternoon meant Arun Kapil’s demo and tutored tasting on Spices again in Trinity Hall. Arun is a spice guru who has appeared on Richard Corrigan’s Cookery School TV series and supplies top chefs like Richard and Mark Hix with bespoke spice blends though his main outlet is Farmer’s Markets.

We made sure that we were there early and well seated, just as well as the hall rapidly filled with a big and enthusiastic audience. Arun is very interactive and questions fired to the audience brought rewards of packs of spice for correct answers!

Arun gave us all an overview of spices and, like any other ingredient he stressed the importance of freshness to obtain the best results.  Large bags of aromatic spices were passed around and had everyone’s mouths watering and this before anything had been cooked, if the raw ingredients have that effect imagine the finished article.

OK, spices are by their very nature difficult to source locally but he goes direct to the farmer and imports only in useable quantities – little and often - to ensure prime condition. Compare this with the big commercial suppliers who buy when the market is favourable then import and warehouse until the seller’s market suits. Arun's commitment to supporting local business and marketing model have just won Green Saffron a sustainablility award!

Once released by the wholesalers the spices are packaged and again warehoused until the market or season makes them most profitable and then they sit on supermarket shelves. Those “fresh” spices with which you cook could be three years old by the time you buy them and positively geriatric by the time you use them.

Green Saffron Spices on the other hand are often only eight weeks from farm to use.

We also learned about spice combinations and the additional two tastes in Ayurvedic cooking, (Pungent and Astringent) and the importance of achieving a balance of elements in a dish.

Then on to the cooking! First up some Garam Masala cookies combining traditional western styles with an Indian twist. These were amazing and would probably work well with a supermarket spice blend though Arun’s made them something else! These were served with a Mulled Wine using his unique blend. Actually the Mulled Wine Mix is brilliant with Apple Juice as a non-alcoholic winter warmer so get some made up for Halloween and Fireworks night.

Then a soup - or more accurately, two soups in one. The bottom a warm potato soup, the top a courgette and green Cardamom, served chilled to give a contrast of hot and cold with a creamy richness and contrasting lively fresh taste

This is just one of the 10 recipes that have just been featured In Food and Wine Magazine in Ireland where Green Saffron are based. Arun has also been asked to submit on a regular basis.

Then on to the meats and whilst Arun did a rapid run through a Korma in real time the assistants handed Murgh Oudhi  (buttered Chicken) round  - the dish that he had the semi-finalists in Cookery School making. The Korma followed as soon as it was cooked and was devoured by all.

A question and answer session rounded the demo and such was the enthusiasm of the audience that the hall staff were asking us politely to leave so that the next  event could be set up. For those of you who missed the show and Arun’s spices GOOD NEWS he will be back for the Christmas show!!
if you cannot wait, and who can you can access Green Saffron's website and mail order business on line at  Youll also find a wealth of information about individual spices on the site so if you are serious about spice get there now.

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