Spice World.

14 May

I fell in love today.

Sorry, dumplings, but I’ve possibly found a new flame. And this affair’s a little more spicy – boom, TISH!

My flatmate and I were visiting one of our regular shopping haunts after uni, Paddy’s Markets in Sydney’s Haymarket. Forget scrounging around for vintage finds in Rozelle or salivating over Paddington’s designer wares – when you’re in our position, grocery shopping becomes your favourite pastime. We have regular discussions over which type of milk powder to buy or what our preferred types of dishcloth are. Oh yes we do.

I digress. We were doing the weekly fruit and vege shop when we stumbled across a stall we had never seen before. A stall that was, quite seriously, going to change my life. Well, my spice rack at least.

Green Valley Spices was a beacon of colourful exuberance – fat, overloaded pots of almost every kind of spice, seasoning and even tea that let off the most wonderful mix of smells.

Bucketloads of spices

Cinnamon was there and za’atar was there and turmeric and paprika and ground fennel were there. Vanilla beans, cinnamon sticks and bark, whole cloves and cardamom pods. Seasonings for every type of meat, as well as chunky teas – not that powdery supermarket kind.

We were tempted to get some of the chai tea mix – loaded with broken cinnamon sticks, cardamom pods and whole cloves. The camomile tea also looked intriguing, with its whole camomile flowers that were such a far cry from the bags we’re accustomed to. But our budget sadly only stretched to a few spices.

Vibrant turmeric and paprika

Instead we were more than satisfied to leave with 100g of cinnamon, 100g of za’atar and 50g of chilli flakes for $8. Getting your spices at the supermarket? Be prepared to spend more than twice that.

Most spices were $3 for 100g, $5 for 200g, $8 for 500g and $15 for 1kg. The teas were a little more exxy, starting at $9 for 100g, but still a comparative bargain to supermarket shopping.

A wall of spices

For dinner we decided to do something impromptu and spice-fuelled: sumac tomato salad and toasted sourdough with olive oil and za’atar.

‘Now what are these crazy things?’ You may ask. Sumac is a reddish-purplish spice with a tangy, almost lemony flavour. Za’atar is a mix of dried herbs: oregano, basil and thyme together with sesame seeds, salt and other spices, including sumac. They’re both generally used in Middle Eastern cuisine and are both equally as delicious.

Sumac tomato salad

Sumac Tomato Salad

Serves 2

2 tomatoes, chopped into wedges

2 tsp sumac

2 TBSP extra-virgin olive oil

  1. Arrange tomatoes on a plate or in a bowl
  2. Mix together sumac and olive oil
  3. Drizzle over tomatoes
  4. Serve

Sourdough toast, za'atar, olive oil and tomato salad

Toasted Sourdough with Za’atar

Serves 2

4-6 pieces of sourdough bread, toasted

½ cup extra-virgin olive oil

½ cup za’atar

  1. It’s quite simple really: a bowl for the oil, a bowl for the za’atar and a plate for each person. Dip your bread in the oil and then the za’atar and voila, utter deliciousness with less than sixty seconds preparation time.

Green Valley Spices
Paddy’s Market, Haymarket


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