RawSpiceBar is a monthly subscription that sends freshly ground, small batch spice blends and recipes that utilize them.
My Subscription Addiction received this box for review purposes. (Check out the review process post to learn more about how we review boxes.)
The Subscription Box: RawSpiceBar
The Cost: $8 per month
COUPON: Use coupon code SPICEADDICT5 to get your first box for $3!
The Products: 3 freshly ground spice blends from one country or region, enough to create 3 dishes serving 6-10 people.
Ships to: U.S. (with free shipping) and Canada (for an additional fee).
Keep Track of Your Subscriptions: Add this box to your subscription list or wishlist!
Each month, RawSpiceBar sends spices from one region or geographical area. This is the “Sambhar Flavor Kit."
In addition to sending recipe cards each month, RawSpiceBar also has a variety of recipes on their website - the recipes for March are available here (including those pictured below).
Mango Toasted Chaat Masala - 0.3 oz
This looked like straight cumin, but the aroma was much more complex, with the mint and fennel really coming through for me. This blend contains cumin, anchoor, black salt, coriander, red chiles, asafoetida, dried mint, fennel, and "spices."
I didn't smell the mango initially, but I was surprised upon tasting that this blend is more salty and fruity than anything. Cumin tends to overwhelm my dishes at home so this was a pleasant surprise.
I originally had a little trouble matching up the recipes to this spice mix, because it's labeled as "Mango Toasted Chaat" but the recipe cards say "Chaat Masala"... but in the ingredients list, you can see it's clearly labeled.
Both of these ideas are for cold chop salads, which I love but rarely season with anything other than salt and pepper and maybe garlic, so I was intrigued.
Sambhar Masala - 0.3 oz
This one looks fairly similar to the Mango Chaat Masala, and it is another cumin-based spice blend. This mix includes coriander, cumin, fenugreek, cayenne, curry leaves, black peppercorns, yellow mustard seeds, dried yellow split peas, poppy seeds, toasted cinnamon, and spices.
Those last three ingredients were unexpected! This blend is really spicy, so I couldn't taste much when sampling alone.
There was one recipe included for the Sambhar Masala:
This dish sounds amazing, and it sounds like something I could easily make in my InstantPot, too. Definitely on my list this month! RawSpiceBar also suggests using the next spice blend as a topping for this dish:
Panch Phoran - 0.6 oz
I love seeing whole spices and this combo smelled great. This can be used as a topping or as a seasoning on its own.
I love the smell of fennel but this was a bit mustardy as well. The ingredients in this packet are fennel seeds, fenugreek, black mustard seeds, and nigella seeds.
I had to look up nigella seeds since I'd never heard of them before receiving these spices! Apparently it's also called "black cumin," which makes all three of our spice blends cumin-based in some form.
This recipe, in particular, looked good to me:
I just got some new potatoes from our CSA this week, so I think I know what to do with them now!
There have been some comments about RawSpiceBar in past review posts, that the recipes are sometimes incomplete or leave a lot open to interpretation. I definitely had that in mind when I received my first envelope, and it may have steered me toward trying one of the more simple recipes first: I decided to make the Chaat Masala Tomato & Chickpea Salad. It looked like a no-fuss and refreshing meal, and I was curious about using these spices in a dish I'd normally season only lightly.
I ended up having to sub shredded mozzarella because my husband forgot to pick up feta at the store. It can work in a pinch, but I don't recommend it. (I also had to sub one of the tomatoes halfway through with some halved cherry tomatoes instead - these Roma tomatoes were so mealy and awful!)
It came together pretty quickly, and I served with some more cheese and green onion on top:
I was worried at first that the amount of spice might be overwhelming, so I added a dash at a time and kept tasting as I went... and I ultimately ended up with the whole bag. Since I wasn't using feta cheese, I think it needed the extra salt from the spice packet (this blend was pretty salty on its own).
The mango flavor really came out when combined with the lemon - this was overall really refreshing and surprisingly a bit spicy too! I was worried about the cumin content because it's not one of my favorite spices, but the spice blend seemed overall really well balanced both in the packet and after cooking. We ate this with a few simply toasted pita, and for such a quick dinner I thought it was great.
Verdict: As someone who loves to cook to de-stress after a long day, I really enjoy learning new cooking techniques and recipes. The recipes and spices included in this month's RawSpiceBar were all good for me in particular: they took dishes I already prepare somewhat regularly (cold chopped salads, lentil stew, roasted potatoes) and gave me some new ideas and flavors to help punch them up a bit. I didn't have any trouble following the first recipe I tried (aside from my confusion about the Mango Chaat Masala). I did need to taste and adjust though, so this subscription may be better for home chefs with some experience who are looking to learn about new spices and cuisines, rather than those who are just starting out.
What do you think about RawSpiceBar?