I've been reading about bloggers make tea infusions and listening to cookbook authors chat about their quick chutneys so I found myself coming home from Velan weighed down with everything from amchoor to cinnamon to sumac and wondering what to do with it all and how I could be expanding the choices of my small-fridge French life.
Both of the cookbooks on my shelf offered lots of ideas. The amchoor in particular I picked up after reading Bittman rave about it one chaat masala addition after another. So that's what I made first (pictured far left) - a mixture that he assures me will do its duty on everything from paneer to pita to rice. Then, as I added to my list of spices to pick up when I'm in NY next month, I thought it best to make something from a different part of the world and whipped up a batch of heavy-on-the-chipotle chili powder. Both Bittman and Jaffrey extol the complexities of Za'atar, the Turkish mix of sumac, sesame and thyme that I think was on each of the puffed breads we had in Istanbul, so when I fill up my sesame stash, I will make this too.
I am limited here without my trusty spice grinder or mortar/pestle, but I do have the item you can see on the far right - a Turkish spice grinder. I admired one when we were at the Spice Market but left the idea alone since I felt so overwhelmed. Then, with 13 Turkish Lira burning holes in our pockets, we went to the Grand Bazaar of Ataturk Istanbul Airport and lo and behold, for 13 YTL, a gleaming spice grinder.
I didn't have hopes for an airport purchase, and I didn't quite understand how it exactly worked (I was waiting for the whole coriander for the chaat masala to come out of the bottom like a pepper grinder, but this device only has one place to put it in and take it out), but it seems to be holding up just fine - not in a fine grinding sort of way, but in a great look-what-I-bought-on-vacation-that's-useful-way.
Now I just need to make some paneer, or pita, or just bake up a potato and transform it, this is the promise Bittman has made to us (vegetarians). I'll report.