Lately I've been playing around with spices that had previously been a mystery to me. I go to the grocery store and stand in front of shelves filled with tiny glass jars, filled with herbs and spices and I wonder what they are all used for. These orange, red and yellow powders seem so exotic and oddly enticing. I begin to imagine myself creating dishes with flavor combinations that have never been tried before. I think of the savory, foreign aromas that will rise out of my pots and pans and can't wait to get home and try out a new and innovative concoction.
I semi-randomly pick up a couple of those little jars that I know very little about and race home, plotting my meal all the way. In my kitchen I dice and slice, steam and baste throwing in dashes of this and pinches of that. Soon those spicy aromas I imagined begin to fill the air...choking me. Instead of the exotic scents I had dreamt of, my kitchen is filled with what I can only imagine the banks of the Ganges on laundry day must smell like. While wondering if horrible smells can cause cancer of the nostril, I try to take a bite to see if the dish tastes better than it smells but I'm never able to bring the fork close enough to my mouth whithout gagging from the scent wafting towards me. I begin to think the only way to rid my home of the smell is to burn it down, but then the fumes would just infiltrate the entire neighborhood! I dump out the dish with my fleeting dreams of culinary greatness.
Over time the offending aroma fades and I start all over again. Every once in a while something really terrific comes from my mad-scientist like experiments with spices, like this Turmeric Rice recipe. This aroma won't have your neighbors begging for your eviction but rather begging for an invitation!
4-6 sliced green onions (about 1/2 cup)
2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 cups white or Basmati rice
1 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 cup green peas (fresh, frozen and thawed or canned and drained)
1 teaspoon lime juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/4 teaspoon cumin powder
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
Cook onion in butter for 3 minutes. Add rice and saute with onions for about 5 minutes or until lightly toasted. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Turn down heat and simmer approximately 15 minutes (omit this step if using Minute rice). Remove from heat. Cover and let stand 10 minutes.