RawSpiceBar Subscription Box Review – March 2015
RawSpiceBar is a monthly subscription that sends freshly ground, small batch custom spice blends.
The spices are shipped via USPS in a kraft sleeve.
The Subscription: RawSpiceBar
The Cost: $6 per month with free shipping
The Products: 3-4 freshly ground spice blends from one geography or region, enough to create 3 dishes serving 8-12 people
Ships to: US and Canada
Each month, RawSpiceBar sends spices from one region or geographical area. This shipment features spice blends from Tehran, Iran.
This month’s recipes were selected because of their association with Nowruz, or Persian New Year. Nowruz begins at the exact moment of the vernal equinox, when the sun crosses the equator and winter ends. (FYI- Nowruz this year took place on March, 11th.) Feasts symbolizing rebirth, renewal, and fertility mark this event, and the recipes featured this month are often served: Braised Lamb Shanks & Advieh, Saffron Rice, and Mast-O-Khiar.
Advieh Khoresht- .3 oz
According to the information on the spice packet, Advieh Khoresht is a staple of Iranian kitchens and mirrors the balancing, delicate flavors of Persian cuisine. It’s a blend of rose petals, cinnamon, cardamom, lime powder, coriander, cumin, and black peppercorns. This blend is created specifically for meat or bean stews, but it can also be used as a rub for kabobs and vegetables.
Mast-O-Khiar Herbs- .3 oz
Earthy, dried herbs are a central part of Persian cooking and are used in nearly every meal. This particular blend incorporates dill, mint, rose petals, and peppercorns and is intended for use in Mast-O-Khiar, a traditional yogurt dish.
Saffron Threads- .1 g
Saffron is one of the most expensive spices in the world. It’s prized for its delicate flavor and vibrant golden hue and is often used in risottos, pilafs, paellas, and other rice dishes. RawSpiceBar only included .1 grams of saffron- a little goes a long way.
I was so excited to see that this month’s featured spice route is Tehran, Iran! I know almost nothing about Persian cooking, and I was extremely excited to try my hand at these dishes.
Recipe #1- Braised Lamb Shanks with Advieh
My husband and brother love lamb, so I couldn’t wait to try this recipe out on them. I had a little bit of difficulty sourcing the meat, though. None of my local grocery stores had lamb shanks in stock, so I had to visit a local butcher to get them. (Granted, I live in a large city with relatively small grocery stores, so those in suburban areas with larger grocery stores may not have the same problem.)
Once I tracked down the lamb shanks, however, the recipe was fairly straightforward. The recipe recommended braising the lamb for approximately three hours, so I made sure to start cooking early in the day. (Since RawSpiceBar meals seem to be fairly time intensive, I would definitely recommend thoroughly reading through the recipes in advance so you have a good idea how long your food will take to cook before you begin. Currently, they do not print guidelines for “prep time” and “cooking time” on the recipe cards.)
The shanks braised in a mixture of advieh, honey, orange juice, onions, and rosewater. I never would have considered pairing lamb with rosewater, but the smell from the oven while they were cooking was fantastic.
Once the meat was falling off the bone, they were done!
The lamb was fantastic. It was tender, juicy, and the spices gave the leftover braising liquid (like a gravy) a delicious, exotic flavor.
Recipe #2- Sabzi Pollow with Dill and Saffron
I had to read over this recipe quite a few times before I began cooking. In part, I think the recipe could have been written more clearly, but the technique used to cook the rice was also unlike anything I’ve tried before.
I began by par boiling the rice and then prepared the saffron by soaking it in warm water.
The saffron aroma was subtle and ever so slightly sweet. Once the water turned a very deep yellow, I mixed it into a portion of the rice along with yogurt. I spread this yogurt mixture into a sauté pan and then layered the remaining rice (mixed with dill and fava beans) on top. This cooked slowly on the stovetop for 70 minutes.
This method of slow cooking turned the rice and yogurt mixture on the bottom of the pan into a crispy crust.
Despite my initial reservations, I thought the rice turned out very well. I enjoyed the sabzi pollow, and I thought the crust on the top of the rice added a really interesting textural component to the dish.
Recipe #3- Mast-O-Khiar with Rose and Mint
The final recipe for Mast-O-Khiar was by far the simplest. I began by mixing garlic and the herbed spice blend into yogurt.
When the rest of the meal was ready, I folded chopped cucumber into the Mast-O-Khair and topped it with raisins and walnuts.
All three dishes went together beautifully. Each component was delicious on its own but even better alongside the others.
Verdict: This was my second shipment from RawSpiceBar, and it’s quickly becoming one of my favorite subscriptions! The spices are vibrant, fragrant, and clearly of very high quality. Their packaging and presentation are top notch too. This month, I had a couple of issues with their recipes, but all of the dishes came out just fine and everything was delicious. (Though, I do think it’s important to point out that some of the RawSpiceBar recipes may be too advanced for beginners.) I love that RawSpiceBar introduces me to new cuisines and inspires me to make foods I’ve never had before. I really enjoyed trying (and cooking) Persian food for the first time! I think this is an exciting and inexpensive subscription that can help add variety and inspiration to home cooking. I would definitely recommend it for adventurous cooks looking to try something new!
What did you think of this month’s Nowruz feast from RawSpiceBar?