Fairtrade Spices

Investing in Fairtrade

The Fair Seas Spice Co., that’s pretty me and two other guys, have recently expanded our line-up Fairtrade certified Spices

Fairtrade Spices

Our Expanded line-up of 100% Fairtrade Certified Spices

Our newest collection, available in 6 convenient sizes, is the perfect gift for even the most ethical consumer out there.

While we source virtually all our spices from small-scale farmers and cooperatives, we are especially proud of our Fairtrade product line. Fairtrade International, a remarkable organization, has done an amazing job in bringing to the forefront the plight of small-scale farmers and producers across the developing world. Often times we forget exactly how our neatly packaged spices, teas, coffees, and clothing (just to name a few examples) found their way onto store shelves. In too many instances, the products we use, consume, and take for granted are the result of some form of exploitation. The Fairtrade stamp is a friendly reminder that as consumers we must always be conscious of purchases we make, and that we always have a choice.

Small Scale Farmer

Small-Scale Farmer in India. Picture by Melanie Hadida

Fairtrade International has relentlessly championed the cause of small-scale producers across the globe. Under the legacy which Fairtrade International has established, hardworking producers who would otherwise receive a pittance for their labour or goods are now receiving just and fair market wages. Along with fair wages, Fairtrade International also places a premium on community development. Buying Fairtrade is not a charitable act, rather it is a legitimate investment in a communities inherent potential.

As of mid-September, the Fair Seas Spice Co. will be launching an expanded 100% Fairtrade Certified Spice Collection. All 11 of our Fairtrade certified spices will be now be included.  Our newest collection, available in 6 convenient sizes, is the perfect gift for even the most ethical consumer out there.

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Anti-Inflammatories – Ginger and Turmeric

Lately, our turmeric has been selling like hotcakes. As I’ve mentioned in earlier posts, Turmeric is the new craze among health experts and nutritionists. We in North America are only now figuring out what our friends in India have known for centuries, and that is that Turmeric is very very healthy.  I’ve posted a short video in which Dr. Weil (http://www.drweil.com/) discusses the amazing anti-inflammatory benefits of both ginger and turmeric.  Dr. Weil has an M.D. and sports an impressively massive beard, so you know whatever he says is indisputable fact (you simply cannot argue with a beard).

 

Bindi Masala

Special Edition: Jaishree Cooks Bindi Masala!

Mel Hadida has just returned from India after having spent a few weeks at the Sambhavna Trust Clinic in Bhopal. Bhopal is the sight of the notorious Union Carbide tragedy of 1984. Mel donates her precious time to the Sambhavna Trust Clinic, where she developes programs designed to engage young boys and girls, along with their families, still suffering the consequences of the terrible events which transpired back in 1984. What Mel gives to Bhopal, Bhopal clearly gives back in spades. As a follower and fan of Mel’s blog, she has shared over the years a wealth of wonderful experiences and awesome local recipes. She’s done so with some great writing and fantastic pictures. Her latest instalment in a case is point. Enjoy

What Would Jaishree Do?

I went back to Beautiful Bhopal for a couple weeks and as always, one of the highlights of my time spent at the Sambhavna Trust Clinic   was dinner every night prepared by the delightful Jaishree.

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Normally I would just spend the hours between 6:00 and 9:00 patiently waiting in anticipation of what she will be cooking for dinner, but one day, while I was waiting to get the frayed edges of a newly purchased scarf sewn up, I saw this:

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OKRA!!! Bindi, as they call it here. I could not resist. I purchased one kilo of the stuff for 40 rupees (approximately 40p or 80 cents) and brought the bag home to present to Jaishree when she arrived with her son Jimy to make dinner. I had a request; Bindi Masala.

Of course, it had to be a little makeshift. I am used to tomatoes in my bindi masala but…

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This Week’s Specials

We’ve got some great promotions going on this week at fairseasspice.ca. Check in on our recipe blog throughout the week for great recipes on all our featured products.

50% off Fairtrade Certified Cassia Cinnamon.

Cassia Cinnamon

Cassia Cinnamon

If you’ve not added cinnamon to your dishes, it’s time you start. While North-Americans usually attribute this awesome spice to cinnamon buns and apple pie, around the world Cinnamon actually forms the backbone of many a savoury dish. Whether you’re using Chinese Five Spice, or cooking up some hardcore Indian, Middle-Eastern, or North-African fare, cinnamon will add a wonderful depth of flavour to your cuisine. We also sell our cinnamon whole. Why? Because the moment the cinnamon bark is ground, essential oils begin to evaporate and the flavour quickly mellows and deteriorates. Buy it whole, grind it fresh and experience real cinnamon, and it’s 50% off to boot. So go nuts.

35% off Cumin Seed

Cumin

Cumin

If I could virtually roast off and grind a handful of these bad boys and transmit the fragrance online, I’d be going through cumin at an alarming pace. This cumin is the real deal. Pungent and flavourful, just a pinch of this spice will propel your cooking from good to great (or not so good to tolerable, we sell spices not miracles). Cumin will enhance almost any dish it dropped into. Don’t believe me? Buy some. The question really is, can you afford not to buy some? We’ll be posting some great cumin recipes this week on our recipes blog, so stay tuned for that.

35% off Turmeric Root Whole/Dried

Turmeric root

Turmeric Root

If Turmeric could speak it would have millions of  devoted followers listening attentively and with blind conviction to its every word. This simple, yet not so simple, spice has developed a cult like following amongst health gurus and nutritional experts. Look online and you’ll find claims (some legitimate, some more dubious than others) that turmeric heals any and every ailment. Now I won’t go on record telling you that turmeric is the new penicillin or some kind of wonder spice, but if even 10% percent of the claims are true, there is no good reason we shouldn’t be consuming just a little of this stuff on a daily basis. How do I add this spice to my daily diet? I just grind it into a fine powder (use a coffee grinder, or if you’re ready for the big leagues, buy our Waring professional spice grinder. I have one but whatever, its no big deal)  and put about a quarter tea-spoon of the stuff into my fruit smoothies, rice, stir-fry, omelette ext. Seriously, you can add it to almost anything.

35% off Fenugreek

Fenugreek

Fenugreek

First of all Fenugreek has nothing to do with Greece. Secondly, why did we decide to make fenugreek one of this weeks featured products? Because not enough people know how bloody awesome this little spice is. When roasted and ground fenugreek imparts this incredible sweet, almost maple like flavour. Fenugreek’s natural sweetness balances a dish’s more bitter notes, and works in perfect harmony with robust flavours like coriander, cumin, and paprika, making it ideal for savoury cuisine.  Not only is this spice essential in recipes spanning Asia and Africa, you’ll sound super sophisticated when you tell people you cook with fenugreek.

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Ras el Hanout

Ras el Hanout

A few years back I had the opportunity to spend a some time in Casablanca en-route to Cairo, Egypt. Was Casablanca a beautiful city? No, not in the least. However what Casablanca lacked in esthetics, it made up for it in charm and great food. I had the opportunity to venture into the Quartiers des Habous, a district slightly off the beaten track with great souks (markets) selling anything and everything Moroccan.  It was there that I found a great olive and spice shop. I struck up a conversation with the shopkeeper who offered me a stool to sit on and some sweet slightly spiced tea.

olivesSidebar: While I’m no Frommer’s or Lonely Planet, I can issue this bit of travel advice: Sweet tea is an effective tool used by shopkeepers to get unsuspecting foreigners to buy their goods. Unless you’re planning on dishing out some currency, do not accept their gracious hospitality. If you do, you will end up carrying around an overpriced and unwanted backgammon set, similar to the one I picked up in Jerusalem in 2001 for a mere $90.00. I now play backgammon, not quite by choice however.backgammon

Now since I planned on dropping some cash, I made myself comfortable by drinking copious amounts of his sweet tea and asking him endless questions about Moroccan culinary history. Impressed with my French and Arabic he was all too happy to feed my insatiable appetite for information.  spices in bottlesWith a sense of passion he described to me the essence of Moroccan cuisine. In a nutshell he spoke volumes of Ras el Hanout. Ras el Hanout is Morocco’s version of Garam Masala. He explained the blend’s alluring mystery, how no recipe exists, how the amount of spice one adds or doesn’t add is arbitrary, and how each shop will claim to blend the best Ras al Hanout in Casablanca, a claim he himself was unabashed in making. When I asked him what his recipe was he simply laughed and said in French “un secret est un secret”.

spices in bagApart from being fun to say, what does Ras al Hanout actually mean? The word “Ras” (رأس) translated from Arabic means “head” or “top”, whilst Hanout ( الحانوت) means shop. Simply put, head or top of the shop means you’re consuming a blend of a shops most premium spices. Ras el Hanout is typically used to season meat, poultry, fish, game, vegetables, rice, couscous, you name it. You can pretty much put Ras el Hanout on anything that can use a serious infusion of flavour.

Recipes for this classic Moroccan spice blend are infinite; however at its core Ras el Hanout usually contains the following spices:

  • 2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom seeds
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1/2 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp salt
Ras el Hanout

Basic guide to Ras el Hanout

Now please consider the above mentioned spices as merely a flavour foundation, the building blocks on which to build your gastronomical masterpiece.  Ras el Hanout, should you decide to go nuts and please go nuts, can contain over 30 varieties of spice. Feel free to add whatever spice you’d like, be it Star Anise, Cloves, Allspice, Bay Leaves, Nutmeg, Mace, fenugreek, ext. This blend seriously allows you to go all out with culinary creativity.

All pictures are courtesy of Mel Hadida whatwouldjaishreedo.wordpress.com