Spice is a tool, a powerhouse of flavors. You can mix and match, using your tools to create the flavors you want on your canvas, with no rules (I love the sound of that.) A small teaspoon can go a long way. Every time that I add masalas (spice blend) to my vegetables, I feel like I am breathing life into the dish.
Bland flavorless food is like watching a boring movie on a dull, rainy day. I have had the opportunity to to taste some pretty bland food and it left me with a rather dull empty feeling. Spicy is sometimes misunderstood as a synonym for 'hot'; however, spicy simply means flavored with spice. Spicy does not always mean it is sharp and/or hot. Cinnamon is not sharp, but it is a spice... Then there is fennel, which is sweet in flavor. It might be intimidating for some to embrace these flavors, it is indeed an acquired taste. If you are sniffing cumin for the first time, don't stick your nose into a bag of cumin, you might just faint (OK! that's a bad joke) But seriously, it does have a strong aroma, most spices do. But remember that you are not going to add a cup of cumin or any other spice, into your dish. It's going to be just 1/2 tsp or even 1/4th tsp. It provides flavor and mixes in with the other main ingredients to give a subtle flavor. A better way could be to rub the spice between your finger and thumb and sniff the aroma. I think spiced oils are a good way to start, as you can add a bit of the spiced oil onto your dish and try it. Also, I love customizing my
This particular spicy oil is a mix of red chili, garlic and a bit of garam masala. The oil I have used is a blend of olive and sesame. Sesame is pretty strong, the olive oil dilutes the flavor of the sesame and adds it's own sweet nutty taste. Why oils?? Well, it's the same reason why fried food is one of the best tasting foods. It's because fat devolves flavor (flavor solvents). I know you're probably falling asleep here, but there is serious science behind why fried food is more flavorful. So, don't blame yourself for gawking over french fries rather than apples. (no offense to apples here). Just one advice, don't drink it like a beverage... use a teaspoon.
My other favorite is olive oil with fennel seeds... coming soon on the blog.