Unusual Spices

I did a post last year on unusual spices. It was well received so I thought I would do another one.

Here’s some unusual spices and how to use them. I always add recipes also. I love using different spices and adding to my spice cabinet. How about you?

So let’s get going. I will be adding the url of where you can order the spice if you wanted to. It will be in the picture.


Grains of Paradise.

This is a pepper. It comes from Africa and is also called melegueta pepper. They are small reddish brown seeds and when ground it is white. The flavor is hot and peppery with a hint of fruit that softens the sharpness.

They can be ground and added at the end of cooking, or used in spice mixtures. Try using them in place of regular black pepper to give a unique twist to your food.

Recipe for Alton Brown’s Lentil Soup

Alton Brown's Lentil Soup

Alton Brown’s Lentil Soup


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup onion (chopped finely)
  • 1/2 cup carrot (chopped finely)
  • 1/2 cup celery (chopped finely)
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 lb lentils (culled & rinsed)
  • 1 cup tomato (peeled & cubed)
  • 1 quart chicken broth
  • 1 quart vegetable broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander (ground)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin (ground)
  • 1/2 teaspoon grains of paradise (ground)


  1. with salt, sweat the onion, carrot, and celery in hot olive oil.
  2. add the broth, tomatoes, lentils and seasonings.
  3. bring to a boil.
  4. reduce heat and cover, cooking about 35-45 minutes.
  5. blend if desired (I do not blend).


Pasilla Negro

With a name that means “little raisin” in Spanish (despite being 5 to 6 inches long) this chile does indeed have a grapish, winey character and relatively moderate heat. One of the “holy trinity” used in moles, Pasilla Negro can also be incorporated into salsas, soups and stews.

Pumpkin Kale Enchiladas



Pumpkin Kale Enchiladas


Enchilada Sauce:
3 Ancho Pods
3 Guajillo Pods
2 Mulato Chiles
2 Pasilla Negros
1 Pasilla Oaxaca
2 cloves garlic
1 bottle of beer (or can substitute 3/4 cup of pinot grigio)
1 12-14 oz. can tomato sauce (we like 365 Organics & Muir Glen)
1 Tbl Vegetable Bouillon (we like ‘Dadi’ brand, an Italian import)
Roasted Pumpkin
2 cups cubed raw pumpkin (or winter squash)
2 Tbl Cumin, ground
2 Tbl Utah Basin Salt
canola (or other neutral oil) to coat
For the Filling:
1 bunch Kale (we like curly or Dinosaur kale)
1 can of drained, rinsed, whole black beans
1 tablespoon whole toasted cumin seeds
To Assemble:
12-16 soft corn tortillas
3 cups shredded cheese, Monterey Jack or other


  1. To make the sauce, remove stems from chiles, and add to a 2 quart saucepan with beer, garlic and bouillon. Cover with water, and allow to simmer for about one hour, then allow to cool. (This step can be done the night before – just transfer the mixture to an uncovered bowl in the refrigerator.)
  2. When cool, remove chiles and garlic from poaching liquid and puree in batches with the tomato sauce, adding back enough of the poaching liquid to form a thin sauce (about the consistency of teriyaki sauce). You should end up with about seven cups of sauce.
  3. To roast the pumpkin, Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Put an empty sheet pan in the oven to heat up. Toss the cubed raw pumpkin with the spices and enough neutral oil (canola, corn, safflower, peanut) to coat. Pour spiced pumpkin on to the hot sheet pan in an even, single layer. (Be careful to avoid over-crowding or you won’t get good caramelization.) Roast until tender but still ‘al dente.’
  4. To make the filling, Wash, stem and chop the kale, then combine with the cooled, roasted pumpkin, beans, and cumin seeds.
  5. To assemble and bake the enchiladas, Heat up enchilada sauce until it simmers, and place enough sauce in a 9×13 casserole dish to thinly coat the bottom.
  6. Dip tortillas in to heated sauce, coating both sides.
  7. Add a bit of cheese, and a generous handful of the pumpkin/kale/bean mix to the sauced tortilla, and roll it up. Plan to use about 2/3 of the cheese inside the enchiladas, and reserving 1/3 for the top.
  8. Place rolled enchilada in the prepared pan, and repeat until filled. For best results, pack them in tightly. Pour remaining sauce over the top of the rolled enchiladas, and top with remaining cheese.
  9. Bake at 325 degrees until bubbly and cheese has browned on top, about forty minutes.




Wattleseed (Waddle seed)

Harvested by the Australian Aborigines 6,000 years ago, seeds from the wattle plant were sought out as a versatile and nutritious addition to their diet. Though the plant is a member of the traditionally poisonous Acacia species, the Aborigines discovered over forty different edible varieties. The green pods were eaten raw or dried and milled into flour for baking.

Today, the seeds are dried, roasted, and crushed to create extracts and grounds used in cooking and espresso. The flavor, reminiscent of hazelnuts and chocolate with hints of coffee, makes wattleseed an ideal seasoning for ice creams, nut butters, sauces and coffee beverages. With a low glycemic index and high protein content, wattleseed is also an excellent candidate for low fat, healthy cuisine.

Wattle Seed Cheesecake



3 eggs (separate yolk and whites)
250g sugar
3 egg yolks
250g cottage cheese
375g smooth ricotta cheese
250ml Buttermilk
3 dessert spoon semolina
4 dessert spoon ground wattleseed
2 dessert spoons lime or lemon rind

1 packet Granada biscuits
250g butter


Place the 3 egg whites into a mixer and place on high until you get a meringue.

While the meringue is being mixed crush a packet of Granada biscuits in a bowl and mix in 250 grams of butter that it is at room temperature.

Once the base is mixed through pat into a 8-9 inch cake base.
Place meringue aside
Place the 250 grams sugar and the 3 egg yolks mix on hi for 3-4 minutes until creamy.
Add into the mixture the cottage cheese, ricotta, buttermilk, semolina, and wattleseed.
Turn on hi speed for 2-3 minutes until mixed through. Scrape from side once mixed and fold through slowly the meringue. Add 2 dessert spoons of lemon rind and fold through.
Spoon mixture into base.
Place into a preheated oven of 180 degrees and bake for 40 minutes.

    • ½ jar marmalade
    • 4 dessert spoon sugar
    • 1 cup of water
    • 1 dessert spoon lemon rind
  • Nip of Midori

Mix all ingredients into a pot. Place on stove until it dissolves for 2-3 minutes. Make sure you watch the sauce and keep stirring, you don’t want it to stick to the pan. Take it off the stove when it becomes a consistent syrup.

Place sauce in a jug and place in fridge to cool.






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10 thoughts on “Unusual Spices

  1. Tales and Travels of the Tin Man August 14, 2013 at 4:47 pm Reply

    Well you got me with the wattleseed! Never heard of it. Sounds interesting and I am on the hunt!

    • JackieP August 14, 2013 at 4:53 pm Reply

      I guess it’s big in Australia, first I heard of it also. Have a good hunt!

  2. Tales and Travels of the Tin Man August 14, 2013 at 6:41 pm Reply

    Found them…….expensive, but flavor sounds worthy of a try! Go back to http://the-tin-man.com/2013/08/14/zaragoza-spain/ to see what the mystery product was in the market!!

    • JackieP August 14, 2013 at 6:50 pm Reply

      Yeah, they are a bit expensive, but since they are so different I thought it was worth a try too.

  3. Mags Corner August 15, 2013 at 6:03 am Reply

    I have never heard of any of these. You come up with some great sounding recipes and now spice. The wattleseed sounds like something I would like. Hugs

    • JackieP August 15, 2013 at 9:40 am Reply

      The wattleseed does intrigue doesn’t it. Leave it to Australia to have a coffee flavored spice. :-)

  4. Letizia August 15, 2013 at 1:39 pm Reply

    Grains of Paradise – I love that name! That’s the fun part about spices, all these beautiful names :) (and the flavors too, of course!)

    • JackieP August 15, 2013 at 3:25 pm Reply

      Yes that is the truth, they do have some interesting name. :-)

  5. Angelina August 15, 2013 at 8:51 pm Reply

    So honored to see my recipe here! Thanks for reposting- I hope you enjoy it. :)

    • JackieP August 15, 2013 at 8:57 pm Reply

      The pumkin kale enchaladas? I hope I gave you the right credit. I do try to hunt down the original and give credit where credit is due. It’s an interesting recipe and I think many of my readers will love it. :-)

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