Happy Sunday! Are you all gearing up for the big game?
Denver? Seattle? Who do you fancy?
I’m cheering for Buffalo. No, it’s not 1990. Or 1991. Or 1992. Or 1993. But, I always cheer for the Bills. You can take the girl out of Buffalo…
Anyway, moving on. BANGLADESH!
As I was working on my grocery list, I realized not only did I need to refill some spices, but I needed some new additions for this week’s menu. Off to The Spice House!
I’ve mentioned The Spice House before, but in case you’re not in the know, it’s a charming little shop in the Old Town neighborhood of Chicago where I find all the exotic flavors I need for my culinary travels. With jars and jars of spices lining its shelves, I don’t know why I’m always surprised when I find exactly what I need.
For example, this week I’ll be using nigella (black cumin) seeds. I’d never heard of it before and had no idea what it looked like, but as I was waiting for the nice spice man to bag my refill of Smoked Spanish paprika, I turned around and lo and behold….nigella seeds.
Spice House, I’m sorry I doubted you.
Before I knew what was happening, my basket looked like this:
I had to leave before I impulse bought what I’m sure would have been some not-cheap truffle oil. Maybe later in my journey, I’ll have a use for that, but I’m pretty sure that India isn’t throwing that into its curries. Though perhaps maybe it should.
My arsenal of spices is growing exponentially, and if I don’t find a place to put them all, they’re going to have to start going into my sock drawer pretty soon.
However, the additions were necessary, and looking to Bangladesh this week, I’m finding that it’s going to be sort of like a gateway drug into the intoxicatingly spicy and no doubt delicious dishes of India (I have no idea what I’m making yet but I can tell you now that I’m excited. I love Indian food- you don’t want to see me at an Indian buffet. It’s not attractive.). In fact, it seems that a lot of the foods that we (as in my country kinsmen) typically label as Indian are actually Bangladeshi in origin (including my favorite takeaway item, Chicken Bhuna).
Bangladeshi food is heavy on the seafood, lentils and vegetables, but the one thing that makes this cuisine different from perhaps the rest of Southeast Asia is that it creatively uses spices, roots and other flavorings by grinding them into pastes that may include any combination of the following: ginger, garlic, red chili peppers, turmeric, onion, cinnamon, coriander, cumin, or mustard seed. Usually served with rice and/or lentils, it seems like this food flows in the same vein as Mama Buddha’s Indian Breakfast.
This week, you can look forward to this: