RawSpiceBar is a monthly subscription that sends freshly ground, small-batch spice blends plus recipe cards to help you successfully incorporate these new flavors into your meals.
This box was sent to us at no cost for review. (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 “Ghanaian Flavor Kit."
In addition to sending recipe cards each month, RawSpiceBar also has a variety of recipes on their website - the recipes for April are available here. (This is the first month where it looks like there are no extra recipes online; these are the same recipes included on the cards.)
West African Peanut Spice Rub, 0.3 oz
This yellow package was really hard to read! This spice rub contains roasted ground peanuts, ginger, paprika, onion, garlic, black peppercorns, red chilies, cayenne pepper, white peppercorns, and spice. Yum!
I had heard of Peanut Soup before but outside of the occasional pad thai, peanuts don't regularly feature in my cooking.
This had a really strong kick to it, thanks to the cayenne and chilies! On its own, I didn't taste the peanut much due to the heat, but the ginger/garlic/onion came through.
This is used in the included recipes for Ghanaian Peanut Chicken Soup and Vegan Cauliflower Wings, but I think it'd be an awesome simple rub for chicken if you like to grill. It's a little hot for soup lately, so as I reviewed the recipe above, I definitely thought about marinating chicken in coconut milk and then doing this rub... but sadly we do not currently have a grill.
Bird's Eye Berbere, 0.3 oz
This spice rub also looks to be spicy, but with the sweet paprika, cardamon, and nutmeg, I could tell right away it would have a totally different flavor profile.
I expected this to be spicier because of the bird's eye chiles, but it was less intense than the Peanut Rub. All of the different aromatic spices came through and I thought overall this was a really unique combo - definitely new to me. I usually reserve ginger, cardamom, and nutmeg for holiday dishes and sweets, but they were great combined with some heat!
This spice blend is paired with a recipe for Vegan Cauliflower Wings. I haven't really got on the "cauliflower everything" bandwagon; no cauliflower pizza crust or cauliflower rice over here. But with the peanut butter and some cilantro and green onions on top, I have to say, these sounded really good!
Grains of Paradise, 0.3 oz
Our final spice is a whole-grain spice. I've never heard of Grains of Paradise before.
These are a little smaller than peppercorns. I don't own a mortar and pestle, but I did crunch on a few! I got more of the "spicy, citrusy, and warm" flavors than "woodsy."
There were two ideas for this spice, one sweet and one savory:
After trying a few grains whole, I feel like whole spices would be tough to eat in this dish and wouldn't add much flavor, so I am thinking these should be toasted or ground first.
This lemon pudding cake sounds heavenly, though, and it's definitely on my list to try now! I love lemon desserts in general but I can't imagine the flavor with grains of paradise added, so I'll just have to bake it up and see.
I decided to go for the cauliflower wings since they used two of the included spice blends. I did make some substitutions to the original recipe, but here's everything I ended up using:
You'll see two things here: I'm using ground ginger instead of fresh (my local store does not stock fresh ginger and it's super annoying!), and since my husband loves hot food, I decided to swap in the Hot Pepper Jelly I got in the last CrateChef box for the orange jam. Risky, yes, but I felt like this jam was sweet enough to make it work!
Basically, everything gets mixed into a sauce, which you rub all over your cauliflower and bake in the oven - it comes together very quickly! I plated our wings with a simple salad with some asparagus, green onion, peanuts, and lime:
My husband also added a bit of blue cheese for an authentic wings experience.
Overall, these were surprisingly great. I definitely wished I had fresh ginger on hand to help add some brightness to the peanut base, so I used a lot of lime to compensate. The pepper jelly substitution worked well though, and my husband who HATES cauliflower even ate seconds. This is definitely a recipe I will experiment with again.
Verdict: This month was really exciting for me - I love spicy food, and these totally new-to-me flavors were so much fun to experiment with. I did feel like the Peanut Soup wasn't a super great option with the warmer weather we've been having, but there was enough variety in the recipes that it was easy to find something I wanted to make. The only thing that gives me pause is that I wasn't sure about the whole grain spice and whether it should be toasted or ground since the recipes did not specify that - I'd expect that to be a little more clear on the recipe cards.
What do you think about RawSpiceBar?