When it comes to travel souvenirs, you can’t beat spices. They are light and portable, easy to tuck into even the most over-packed luggage. When you get home, you get to relive the flavors of the place you visited. It’s like photographs for the mouth.
There’s nothing like scent and taste to take you back all over again – an edible highlight reel.
It also suits my proclivities to pick up spices, because every trip involves several grocery store visits. Sure, there’s provisions for the hotel room. But more importantly, I want to see what local and unique products they have in their natural food stores and specialty markets.
David gets in on the fun. And we race around the store, showing each other each interesting item that we pass.
And then when I get home, I move the spices into jars and lay them prettily across my spice rack. I wouldn’t say I’m a person who collects things, but I do take great joy in my spice collection.
It’s rare when I open a cookbook and find a spice that isn’t already lingering in my cupboard. I enjoy having spices literally from A to Z. Aji amarillo to za’atar.
Vegetable fried rice
Today’s lunch or dinner recipe makes great use of many of the spices in my cupboard – cumin seed, cayenne, garam masala, coriander, and turmeric. They come together with vegetables aplenty in this Indian spiced vegetable fried rice. It’s brimming with potatoes, carrots, cauliflower, peas, and bell pepper.
This hearty dish is substantive enough to be the main course, but would also work beautifully with your favorite curry. Plus, like so many spicy dishes, this one only gets better over time. The flavors continue to meld and develop, meaning that lunch the next day is even better than dinner the night before.
Indian spiced vegetable fried rice
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup brown rice
- 1 Tablespoon canola oil
- 2 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 medium-sized potato chopped into cubes
- 2 carrots chopped
- 1 cup cauliflower chopped
- 1 cup peas fresh or frozen
- ½ red bell pepper chopped
- 1 teaspoon ginger grated
- 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon coriander
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
- ½ teaspoon garam masala
- Cilantro to garnish
- Salt to taste
- Boil water in a small pot. Once it is at a rolling boil, add the rice, and cover. Reduce the heat to low and cook for forty minutes. After forty minutes, turn off the heat and let it steam for five minutes.
- While the rice cooks, heat the oil in a saucepan. Test the oil by adding one cumin seed. If it pops right away, the oil is ready. Add cumin seeds to the oil. Once they pop, add the potato, carrots, and cauliflower to the pan, and stir-fry them for four or five minutes.
- Add the green peas, bell pepper, and ginger. Continue cooking until the potatoes are thoroughly cooked and the other vegetables are crisp-tender.
- Turn off the heat and add the cooked rice, lemon juice, coriander, turmeric, cayenne, and garam masala and toss to combine.
- If necessary, add a splash of water to fully combine the spices throughout the dish.
- Add salt to taste and garnish with fresh cilantro.