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RawSpiceBar Subscription Box Review – March 2015

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RawSpiceBar Subscription Box Review - March 2015

RawSpiceBar is a monthly subscription that sends freshly ground, small batch custom spice blends.

RawSpiceBar Subscription Box Review - March 2015

The spices are shipped via USPS in a kraft sleeve.

RawSpiceBar Subscription Box Review - March 2015

RawSpiceBar sent us this box for review purposes. (Check out the review process post to learn more about how we review boxes).

RawSpiceBar Subscription Box Review - March 2015

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

Check out our other RawSpiceBar Reviews or visit the Food Subscription Box Directory for more food boxes!

RawSpiceBar Subscription Box Review - March 2015

Each month, RawSpiceBar sends spices from one region or geographical area. This shipment features spice blends from Tehran, Iran.

RawSpiceBar Subscription Box Review - March 2015

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.

RawSpiceBar Subscription Box Review - March 2015

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.

RawSpiceBar Subscription Box Review - March 2015

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.

RawSpiceBar Subscription Box Review - March 2015

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!

RawSpiceBar Subscription Box Review - March 2015

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.

RawSpiceBar Subscription Box Review - March 2015

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.

RawSpiceBar Subscription Box Review - March 2015

This method of slow cooking turned the rice and yogurt mixture on the bottom of the pan into a crispy crust.

RawSpiceBar Subscription Box Review - March 2015

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.

RawSpiceBar Subscription Box Review - March 2015

When the rest of the meal was ready, I folded chopped cucumber into the Mast-O-Khair and topped it with raisins and walnuts.

RawSpiceBar Subscription Box Review - March 2015

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?

Written by Lindsey Morse

Lindsey Morse

Lindsey is a professional baker by day and a subscription box junkie by night. She first subscribed to Birchbox in 2013 and her addiction grew when she signed up for Graze, PopSugar, and Knoshy. Her favorite part about being a subscription box addict is discovering new products- especially gourmet goodies, beauty products, and kitchen tools!

All views in this review are the opinion of the author. My Subscription Addiction will never accept payment in exchange for a review, but will accept a box at no cost to provide honest opinions on the box. This post may contain affiliate/referral links. Read the complete My Subscription Addiction disclosure.


  1. I also couldn’t find the lamb. So I bought a 1 lb. package of 16 types of beans and soaked the beans overnight.
    Next morning threw the beans into my crockpot. Added 1 lb. sliced carrots, 8 minced garlic cloves, 1 sliced large onion, 1 large can tomatoes, 1-1/2 lb of sausage, 2 tbsp. salt, the Advieh Khoresht spices, and water to cover. Turn up high. Went to work. Came home and the house smelled wonderfull. Quick and easy. Froze enough for 2 meals and have been taking the rest to work for lunch. Super delicious!!

  2. This was my first month! To be honest, I was nervous when I saw the spices. While I am open to trying all types of food, I’m not one to cook all different types of food! The lamb shank intimidated me! But that is why I signed up, to take me out of my comfort zone. I was excited to see the lentil and burger recipes linked! That doesn’t intimidate me! Baby steps….baby steps LOL.

  3. Another great review! Love the colorful packaging paper. I have been considering this subscription, but I would like to see more recipes on their website. They should list variety of beginner/intermediate/advance recipes and also vegetarian/fish options. My husband and I love to cook, but our only challenge is time as we have busy work schedules and a toddler. So for us, quick/easier recipes will be a great deal. I will keep checking their website. An iPad/tablet app will be great for this to view the recipes quickly.

  4. There is recipe on page 57 of the April/May Fine Cooking that uses advice in a Persian style black eyed peas and carrots.

  5. This is definitely my new favorite subscription, and I can’t wait until next month. Sadly these recipes did not do it for us, the lamb turned out good, but the rest was just off, not sure what I did wrong since I followed the recipes. Oh well, I had a lot of fun preparing it and it took me out of my comfort zone. And now I know I don’t really like lamb or dill all that much

  6. I got this subscription based off of your last review and I LOVED it. It is so beautifully packaged, I was so excited to open it and see what was inside! These types of spices are very new to me, so I really enjoyed being introduced to the new flavors.

    Lamb is not really for me so I appreciated that they put alternate suggestions right there on the spice packages! I ended up rubbing chicken thighs with oil and spices and grilling kebabs along with grilled tomatoes, made the yogurt dip on the side, and some simple Basmati rice with saffron. My husband and I loved the unique spices and flavor combinations with this meal, and our version was super easy.

    We can’t wait to see what next month brings. This subscription is definitely opening us up to new types of food, and we’re learning a lot too!

  7. Lindsey, thanks for your review! This is my first month of RSB after reading your review last month, and I am so excited to cook, especially after seeing your pictures. I think I might just substitute some pieces of lamb (like for shish kebabs) instead of the lamb shanks. Also, I didn’t get the pretty paper like any of the reviews-just regular brown kraft paper, so I was a little bummed. But overall, I am so happy that I signed up for this one!

  8. Awesome! I just signed up for Raw Spice last night, so not sure I’ll get the March shipment, but I’ll be very happy if I do.

    I had a lot of trouble signing up due to some website glitch but was very impressed with an e-mail from customer service this morning writing to ask if I’d meant to sign up and confirming that everything went through correctly. I thought that was so proactive of CS to notice my struggles and respond!

    In addition to the signup form not asking for my zipcode, I was charged $1 tax for a three-month subscription. That has no relationship to VA’s tax rate, so I thought that was a little sketchy, but mystery tax aside, I am impressed so far and think this is a sub I will really enjoy.

    • I asked them about tax and they said haven’t updated state by state tax yet and refund me.
      It’s also weird that if you don’t ask about tax, they just keep your money…

  9. I thought it was weird that the sign up didn’t ask for city or zip code. Did I do something wrong?

    • That does seem odd, Melissa. I just visited their site and didn’t see a field for city or zip on the checkout page either. You can contact RawSpiceBar via email at [email protected]. Maybe try reaching out to them?

      • I wonder if they changed something recently? Because I don’t remember having that problem when I signed up last week.

        They did respond to my e-mail within a very short time period when I had a question for them. I actually think I left a message in their chat window because they weren’t online at the time.

        Also if you use PayPal to pay, I think they can get your full address through PayPal.

  10. Oooo look at your tahdig! you did a wonderful job on your meal Lindsay, well done!
    I made mine last night and layered potatoes on the bottom of the tahdig. was crispy and delicious.
    im not a lamb fan so i used the Adhieh to make a Khoresht Gheymeh. i was impressed how it all turned out and yes, it took me 4 hours to prepare. I dont mind because its only once a month and i never would have the chance to try this otherwise so its definitely worth it for me.
    I agree though, some dishes are complex, but it can be substituted and the spices used for something else.
    Its soon becoming my favorite subscription too, not only for the spices themselves, but for the international cultural experience its bringing to my otherwise bland American diet.
    highly recommended!

  11. I bought this subscription as a present for my dad, who was raised in Tehran. He was so excited to see this month’s theme! We are really loving Raw Spice Bar.

    Minor but important correction- Nowruz actually takes place this year on March 21st at 6:45:11pm EST. As you mentioned, it coincides with the first day of spring, which is the 21st and not the 11th. Super impressed by your Persian cooking skills, though!! If anyone wants a great Persian cookbook that uses all of these spices and more, check out Food of Life by Najmieh Batmanglij.

    • Oops, my mistake! Thank you for the correction, Jessica! 🙂

    • Ugh can’t edit my post but I meant to write its the 21st Tehran time so the 20th at 6:45pm EST. Let’s be honest, I’m really at the family gathering for the food anyways 🙂 My aunts can coooooooook!

  12. Great review as always! This was our first month trying RawSpiceBar and my family and the friends we had over loved this meal as well. We didn’t have lamb shanks easily accessible so just substituted lamb chops which worked fine.

    My daughter’s best friend is Persian so she has a bit of experience eating food from that cuisine and she told me this tasted like her friend’s mom’s cooking. I have had rice with tahdig before and wondered how it was made. Definitely one of my favorite subscriptions already too. 🙂

  13. I just got my species yesterday and I’m planning on making the recipes this weekend! I’m so excited to try something new since this will be my first time cooking Persian food. Thank you for making the recipes and showing us what they look like and what they entail, it’s really helpful!

    • Sorry that was supposed to be spices, not species.

  14. I wasn’t really a fan of this shipment, as the only one I will use is the saffron.

    • If you don’t mind me asking – and I intend no rudeness with the question – why not? While I don’t plan on preparing the lamb recipe, I do plan on using that spice mix on chicken as suggested up thread and in the package. I may hate it or I may love it, but there’s no way of knowing without trying it and it seems that this kind of subscription is in large part about going on a culinary adventure (for a relatively cheap price). Of course, if I was allergic to rose petals or something like that, then it would be different…

  15. I signed up for this but I think I was too late to get March. Will be interested to see if the non-vegetarian recipes can be adapted. Because lamb shanks are a definite “no” for me.

    • The advieh said it could be used as a rub for vegetables. I think it would also be good on chickpeas, maybe roasted?

    • Lindsey, thanks so much for your awesome review- your dishes look beautiful! We just wanted to add that there are definitely a ton of meat free recipe options for our advieh- it goes really great with lentils or beans- check out a few extra recipes:
      Lentil patties from Food Republic
      or a pretty awesome Persian lamb burger (

      Just a few ideas! I know advieh isn’t a super well known spice- we will also have a few more recipe idea on our site this week.

      Hope this helps!! Let us know if there are any blends you’d love to see in the coming months! Thanks!

      • Thanks. Lentils I can totally do!

      • Hola Lindsey!

        Great review! I was looking forward to read it
        and get inspired. The rice looks interesting. I don’t like lamb, but don’t want to use the blend with chicken… I think I will rub it in a beef chuck and use my sloow cooker.

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