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RawSpiceBar Subscription Box Review – September 2015

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RawSpiceBar Subscription Box Review September 2015 - Box

RawSpiceBar is a monthly subscription that sends freshly ground, small batch custom spice blends (and recipes that utilize them).

My Subscription Addiction pays for this subscription. (Check out the review process post to learn more about how we review boxes.)

RawSpiceBar Subscription Box Review September 2015 - Contents

The Subscription: RawSpiceBar

The Cost: $6 per month with free shipping

The Products: 3-4 freshly ground spice blends from one country or region, enough to create 3 dishes serving 6-10 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 September 2015 - Card

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

This month’s recipes are: Lahmacun Turkish Flatbread, Urfa Pepper Hummus, and Za’atar Crusted Cauliflower.

RawSpiceBar Subscription Box Review September 2015 - Baharat

Baharat- .4 oz

According to RawSpiceBar, “baharat is a spice staple in Turkish cooking… used in everything from seafood to soup.” It’s a blend of coriander, cumin, black peppercorn, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, and sweet paprika.

RawSpiceBar Subscription Box Review September 2015 - Urfa

Urfa Pepper- .4 oz

Urfa peppers are smoky (almost sweet) and add a deep maroon hue to dishes. Here’s a closeup:

RawSpiceBar Subscription Box Review September 2015 - UrfaCloseup

The flavor is described as “raisin meets coffee.”

RawSpiceBar Subscription Box Review September 2015 - Za’atar

Za’atar- .4 oz

Za’atar is a blend of thyme, sesame seeds, and sumac. It’s used in a number of Middle Eastern cuisines, and is a staple in my own kitchen, too!

Turkish Dinner!

All of this month’s recipes looked incredible to me, so I arranged to have some family over for dinner to help cook (and eat) this month’s Turkish dishes.

Urfa Pepper Hummus

RawSpiceBar Subscription Box Review September 2015 - HummusCauliflowerRecipe

I began by making Urfa Pepper Hummus and Za’atar Crusted Cauliflower, so we’d have something to nibble on while we made pizza.

To make the Hummus, I combined roasted beets, a can of chickpeas, tahini, garlic, lemon juice, and RawSpiceBar’s Urfa Pepper in my food processor. When the hummus was smooth, I tasted it and added a little salt. I transferred the hummus into a bowl, drizzled it with a little extra olive oil, topped it with an olive, and served it with crostini.

RawSpiceBar Subscription Box Review September 2015 - HummusPlated

The hummus was a big hit. It was flavorful and delicious, and the deep pink color made it stand out on the table.

Za’atar & Pita Crusted Cauliflower

RawSpiceBar Subscription Box Review September 2015 - CauliflowerRecipe

To make the cauliflower dish, I cut large florets, dipped them into a combination of flour, milk, and eggs (the recipe didn’t call for the addition of milk, but I thought the egg mixture was a little too thick without it), and again in a mix of pita crumbs, za’atar, and seasoning. My local grocery didn’t have pita crumbs for sale, so my brother ripped some whole-wheat pita into small pieces, toasted it in the oven, and crushed it into crumbs.

RawSpiceBar Subscription Box Review September 2015 - RawCauliflower

I arranged the florets on a baking tray and baked them at 375 until the cauliflower softened.

RawSpiceBar Subscription Box Review September 2015 - BakedCauliflower

This was the least popular dish of the evening. I like how the pita crust gave the cauliflower a nice crunch, but I don’t think this dish allowed the za’atar to shine. Still, it was fun to dip them into the hummus.

Lahmacun (Baharat Lamb Pizza)

RawSpiceBar Subscription Box Review September 2015 - LambRecipe

While we snacked on crispy cauliflower and hummus, I made the flatbread dough and let it rest and rise for an hour before dividing it into balls and letting it rest for another 45 minutes.

During this time, I made the pizza topping by combining grated onions and tomato, raw ground lamb, tomato paste, garlic, olive oil, and RawSpiceBar’s Baharat Spices. The topping recipe seemed very small, so I doubled it to make sure there was enough for four small pizzas. The original recipe called for the entire packet of baharat, but I used the whole packet in a double batch, and I was happy with the level of spice.

RawSpiceBar Subscription Box Review September 2015 - LambPizzaRaw

When the dough was ready, I shaped each ball into a thin oval and allowed my guests to construct their own pies. As a result, we tried the recipe provided by RawSpiceBar, but we also ended up with a couple of flatbreads that had additional ingredients like green pepper, chives, and red pepper flakes.

RawSpiceBar Subscription Box Review September 2015 - LambPizzaCooked

Honestly, they were all great! The topping was delicious, and I thought the spice blend nicely complemented the flavor of the lamb. My guests and I agreed that the flatbread was a hit, and we all had fun making our own pies!

Verdict: I really enjoyed this month’s Istanbul Box from RawSpiceBar. It feels like a return to the RawSpiceBar formula that I originally fell in love with, and I had a great time making a Turkish-inspired meal with my family. The spices were excellent, and the recipes introduced me to some new and interesting dishes. Over the last few months, I’ve had quite a few issues with the recipes provided by RawSpiceBar (including typos, omitted ingredients, and unclear instructions), and I’m pleased to see an improvement in this box’s recipes. There were still a couple of small issues this month, but I was able to make the dishes without any problems. This is my favorite RawSpiceBar box in months, and I’m excited to see what they have in store for next month!

What do you think about RawSpiceBar’s Istanbul Box?

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. Another great review, thanks! Still waiting for my spices, they seem to have gotten lost again, but your post helps me think ahead for what to do when they (finally) arrive 🙂

  2. This box looks really good – definitely an improvement over the last couple of months. This review was also very well done – thank you!

  3. im glad i cancelled this. The quality went downhill in a hurry.
    waste of money.

  4. Although I agree, this month has been the best one out of the last few months….I still feel like the changes they made were not for the better. I liked the resealable packaging they used to have, the envelope that they came in was always so pretty (it made a nice gift presentation) and the amount of the spices seems to keep getting smaller. I would rather pay $8 or $9 a month to keep the quality at what it use to be.

  5. Thanks for the great review! I’m even more excited to try this month’s spices. You mentioned the cauliflower was the least favorite. Do you have any ideas of a potential alternative that might work better for the spice?

    • Absolutely, Malinda! I grew up with a Lebanese stepfather who always kept za’atar bread in the house. (Click on my name to see a recipe.) It’s basically flatbread or soft pita spread with a mixture of olive oil and za’atar. It’s great dipped in hummus or labneh. I also think za’atar is great as a seasoning for roasted potatoes or as a rub for roasted chicken. 🙂

    • Chop tomatoes, cucumbers, onions and black olives. Add za’atar and Italian dressing. Mmmmmm.

  6. I love your reviews Lindsey. I wait for your review to make mine. helps me avoid the errors.

    • Agree. Great review, Lindsey!

  7. I really like this sub and the customer service behind it. I have had a few delivery issues and also wanted back stock, they were very nice and accommodating. However, the recipes have issues… I also have a few spice allergies and am feeling that maybe I should take a break until they work out the kinks. In case a spice blend is mislabeled – like the recipe cards have been. That being said, this company is really good. I wish you could purchase individual product/spices after receiving them through the sub box. I plan on making RawspiceBar my go to hostess gift this holiday season for my friends who love to cook.

  8. The English word for the za’atar herb is hyssop. Try sprinkling it on a green salad, with or without feta cheese. The way it’s usually eaten in Israel: Put the za’atar in a bowl, add some olive oil to it, and dip fresh bread in the mess.

    Baharat is common to all Muslim cultures around the Mediterranean, and I love it.

    • Thanks for the tip- I was feeling a little too lazy to make the cauliflower!

  9. Great review! This month’s Istanbul theme was a big hit in our house. The za’atar was excellent quality (this is a spice blend I always have around too.) The cauliflower recipe didn’t appeal to us, so I used the za’atar for a fantastic za’atar roasted chicken recipe posted on RSB’s blog.

  10. I’m still stuck with the Baltimore spices and not sure what to do with them, as I don’t do green smoothies and Baltimore was a fail from a vegetarian perspective. I was more excited about these because they offered an eggplant dish I could do instead of the lamb (haven’t tried yet due to time restrictions, maybe next weekend?).

    The only thing I’m still not sure I like is how some of these recipes are probably beyond the capabilities of the average cook. Making dough rise is not trivial if you are not used to doing it (my fiance is pretty good at it although we are using an alternate recipe this month and I guess you could always just buy a premade pizza crust or frozen dough ball if you wanted to go that way). Then there was the ice cream from a previous month. I have an ice cream maker but I would guess that most people don’t.

    • For the lamb pizza, I used veggie soy crumbles instead. It came out really good. I went and bought the yeast to make the dough (that didn’t rise- it said to use boiling water and I don’t think that is correct), and halfway through (as I was poking around at my non-bubbling yeast), I realized that I should have just purchased pre-made pizza dough– then the recipe would have been REALLY easy.

      • Definitely don’t use boiling water — that’ll kill the yeast. What I do is first mix the yeast packet and a pinch of sugar (to feed the yeast) in some hot tap water (110-115 degrees F). Once it has bubbled and divided enough that I know the yeast is good, I mix it in with the rest of my dough ingredients. I usually use whole wheat flour, though, so I have to dump a couple of tablespoons of straight gluten into the recipe as well.

      • Yes, absolutely do not use boiling water! I should have mentioned in the review that this is definitely an error. Yeast likes warm (or lukewarm) water, not boiling. If the water is too hot, it will kill the yeast.

        Also, I have a fun (and kinda weird) tip to help expedite dough rising- I usually do laundry when I’m making yeasted doughs at home. I place my dough in a greased bowl (covered with either plastic wrap of a damp tea towel) and put it on top of the dryer. The warmth from the dryer helps the dough rise a little bit more quickly. 🙂

        • Good idea! I like to have my dough rise in the oven, turned off but with the light on.

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