Friday, 28 February 2014

Cajun Spice / Seasoning Mix (includes Thermomix instructions)

Like it spicy and full of flavour?


Want to add a tasty kick the next time you grill, griddle or barbeque some chicken, pork or salmon, or indeed anything else you fancy? Fed up of paying over-the-odds for overly-salty pre-made spice mixes with added nasties?

Well, make it yourself then!

Cajun seasoning recipe




It will only take you a few minutes, and it's really easy! Makes around 32 servings, at 5 calories per teaspoon, and you can season with the salt element to suit you.


Not to mention the fact that you've probably already got most of the herbs and some of the spices in already, and you'll save yourself a fair few pennies by buying spices in bulk from Indian shops, or shops which stock Indian ingredients.

If you haven't got a spice grinder/mill or a pestle and mortar, or any means of grinding the spices yourself, then use pre-ground spices, and make your measures a fraction smaller. However, if you fancy treating yourself to a spice grinder, if you cook a lot of food with spices in, they don't cost a lot (e.g., I use this one, which is very effective), and turn whole spices into powder in seconds! 

Don't worry if you don't have every single herb and spice in my recipe - the components tend to vary, but the core ingredients are generally cumin, paprika, black pepper, onion powder, garlic powder (I use granules, as they're easier to get hold of in the UK, and then blitz them in the grinder), dried thyme and oregano. As you can see, when I find my favourite blend, I like to scribble it down, fold it up, and tape it to the lid of the jar for when it next runs out... note the aged sellotape!

Now, I'll say this again further down (the effects of aging?), but although the ingredients contain a small amount of celery salt, I don't include salt within the mix, as I prefer to season the meat or fish with appropriate levels of salt then sprinkle with the cajun mix (as some foods and some people like different levels of salt and heat - also good if you're making something for children to eat, as many pre-made blends can be overly salty). So when you use it, you need to salt the food as well.

You could use it in my Cajun-spiced Chicken with Mango Salsa and Baby Leaves recipe, if you want some inspiration.

Or even in my Spicy Mirliton and Shrimp Soup.

Anyway, the Cajun Spice Mix recipe!

This should give you about 32 servings, at approximately 5 calories per serving (1 level teaspoon).

Tbsps are UK tbsps which are 15ml each. If using 20ml tbsp, just add an extra pinch of cayenne pepper.

Cajun Spice / Seasoning Mix
To roast
1 tbsp each cumin seeds, coriander seeds and fennel seeds
To grind
1 tbsp each black peppercorns and onion granules/powder (not salt)
1/2 tbsp garlic granules/powder (not salt)
The rest
1 tbsp each mild/sweet paprika, mustard powder, dried oregano and celery salt
1/2 tbsp smoked paprika and dried thyme
1 tsp cayenne pepper, or hot chilli powder (pure),or crushed dried chillies/flakes (or to taste)

Method
(See below in italics for the Thermomix method)
Take a small dry pan, and gently dry roast the seeds over a low heat until they become fragrant. Keep them moving so they don't burn - it will only take a couple of minutes. Remove immediately, and leave to cool (if you're not using whole spices, toast the pre-ground cumin, coriander and fennel in the pan briefly until fragrant instead).

Grind the roasted cumin, coriander and fennel seeds with the black peppercorns, and onion and garlic granules (if using) into a powder.

Mix with all of the other ingredients until thoroughly combined (you could just throw them into the spice grinder if you want, or do by hand if you want a little texture from the dried herbs), and store in an airtight jar.

To use
Season your meat, poultry or fish with the same amount of salt you would usually use, then gently and evenly scatter over the Cajun spice to taste (you can see how much I use from the photo of the chicken - I like to put it on both sides) - you will probably find you want about a level teaspoon per serving - but maybe try less to start with so you don't find it too spicy, if you're a 'babymouth'! ;)

Thermomix Method
Recommended for dry-roasting spices: Take a small dry pan, and gently dry roast the seeds over a low heat until they become fragrant. Keep them moving so they don't burn - it will only take a couple of minutes. Remove immediately, and leave to cool (if you're not using whole spices, toast the pre-ground cumin, coriander and fennel in the pan briefly until fragrant instead). Yes, you could dry roast the whole spices in the TM, but I find it takes way, way longer to do with more of a risk of the seeds burning with small quantities if the blades aren't moving them around enough - it's quicker and easier in a small pan. Please don't shoot me!

You can now add ALL of the ingredients to the bowl (unless you want to reserve the dried oregano and thyme and stir in after grinding the spices so they're not powdered) place a piece of kitchen towel between the lid and the measuring cup, to stop the powder escaping the bowl, and grind for 20 seconds on Speed 10. Check everything is ground evenly, and repeat if necessary.

To use
Season your meat, poultry or fish with the same amount of salt you would usually use, then gently and evenly scatter over the Cajun spice to taste (you can see how much I use from the photo of the chicken - I like to put it on both sides) - you will probably find you want about a level teaspoon per serving - but maybe try less to start with so you don't find it too spicy, if you're a 'babymouth'! ;)


For perfectly cooked cajun chicken breasts, you could try out my sous vide chicken with Thermomix method here.

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