Metal Recipes: Papyrus Containing the Spell to Preserve Its Possessor Against Attacks From He Who Embodies Hunger

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Preserve me / From that which is lacking flavor.

Let’s face it; money is a pain in the ass. There’s rarely enough of it, and what we (read: Toileteers) do have to spare usually goes to albums, shows, and dope/beer/both. Sometimes we think we have to choose between eating well and listening well, but fortunately this doesn’t actually have to be a choice. And I’m not talking about hitting the dollar menu. All sorts of traditional cuisines get around the problem of cash by starting with simple ingredients and transforming them into something legendary, by means of spices. Seriously. That chana masala you’re paying $15 for at an Indian restaurant? Shit’s got, like, 5 ingredients totaling about $2, plus spices totaling less than a dollar. That’s an album you could have bought if you made said dish at home, and you don’t have to deal with other humans either.

Point is, keep a few spice mixes on hand and you can make any number of exotic dishes from around the world with almost no effort. I won’t waste your time with a rundown on techniques like toasting spices and all that. Generally speaking, if you take 20 minutes once every few months and put together some different mixes, you’ll be good for all manner of dishes. So here are some easy ones, which cover a fairly wide range of cuisines. A couple are herb mixes, technically not spice mixes, but whatever. Most dishes will only need one, plus salt and pepper. May they serve you as well as they have me.

Garam Masala (Indian)

Garam masala as a term is sort of like “cheeseburger” in that yeah, it denotes a family of products, but the products themselves vary hugely. Along with “curry powder” (which itself is borderline meaningless), this is all you need to make full on legit Indian cuisine. As far as garam masala goes, generally speaking you put it in at the end of the meal (heyo, lewd reference!). It’s from this that you get the aromatic parts of your curry, those that will follow you around when they come flying out your asshole. Tip: add garam masala to whatever you’re cooking in the last 5-10 minutes of cooking, and in small increments (about ½ teaspoon) until the aroma suits your nose.

  • 2 t coriander
  • 1 t cumin
  • 1 t cardamom
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • 1 t cloves
  • 1 t black pepper
  • 1 t salt

All-Purpose Curry Powder (Indian)

In strict Indian cooking, there is no such thing as “curry powder.” But many, many curries do start off with more or less the same blend of spices in varying proportions, and eventually the British figured they might as well come up with some sort of standardized product they could market back home. So here you are. Use this in whatever curry you like, once you’re done cooking the onion, in the proportion of about 1 T per pound of whatever the dish’s centerpiece is (lentils, chicken, blood of the innocent, whatever).

  • 4 T turmeric
  • 2 T cumin
  • 2 T cardamom
  • 2 T coriander
  • 1 T mustard
  • 1 t cayenne

Baharat (Middle Eastern)

Baharat is straight up bomb. Adjust the ratios to skew it however you like, whether towards spiciness, aroma (cardamom, cloves), warmth (cinnamon), brightness (coriander), or depth (cumin). Stir it into yogurt for an awesome marinade. Sprinkle it over pita with a drizzle of olive oil. Make saffron rice (using turmeric as a substitute, if you don’t want to buy something that by weight is pricier than gold, cocaine, etc) and sprinkle some in. From shawarma to sheesh taouk to falafel, baharat can do pretty much anything.

  • 2 T ground black pepper
  • 2 T paprika
  • 2 T cumin
  • 1 T coriander
  • 1 T cloves
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • 1 t nutmeg
  • 1/2 t cardamom

Ras El Hanout (North African)

“Ras El Hanout” literally translates to “top of the shop.” What that means is that historically it referred to whichever spice blend a given Moroccan merchant would consider his best, and most expensive, product. Luckily for us it’s more of a unified recipe now, and is cheap as shit. But it’s still tops. The most common usage for this is in tagine, which is a Moroccan stew made with any sort of main ingredient- chickpeas, lamb, whatever- plus vegetables, dried fruit, and cooked in a pot called- duh- a tagine. Given that I’m betting almost no one around the bowl actually owns a tagine, and for that matter not many Moroccans do anymore either, you can just use a slow cooker or pressure cooker. Done and done.

  • 2 t nutmeg
  • 2 t coriander
  • 2 t cumin
  • 2 t ginger
  • 2 t turmeric
  • 2 t salt
  • 2 t cinnamon
  • 1 t brown sugar
  • 1.5 t sweet paprika
  • 1.5 t black pepper
  • 1 t cayenne
  • 1 t cardamom
  • 1 t allspice
  • 1/2 t cloves

They’re a long way from Africa, but for some reason the drone-y main riff makes me think of something very much south of Finland.

Berbere (Ethiopian)

This one’s for you, Dubs, since you mentioned Ethiopian a few weeks back. Ethiopian food is known (here in the West) for just a few things. One, it tends to be spicy AF. Two, it’s eaten while sitting on the floor. Three, it’s eaten using a giant pancake as a utensil, which is pretty great. Four, the term it uses for ‘stew’ is “wat.”

Back to the first point, a lot of the distinctive heat and aroma of Ethiopian food comes from the beloved spice blend of the region, berbere. Lots of variations exist, but common to all are cayenne, cardamom, and fenugreek (random fact: fenugreek is also used to flavor fake maple syrup like Aunt Jemima for the same reason). Use berbere in FUCKING EVERYTHING. Seriously. Chili, soup, stew, grains, you name it. Got a hangover? Put some in a Bloody Mary and it’ll wake you right up.

  • 4-6 T chili powder
  • 1 T onion powder
  • 1 t cardamom
  • 1 t cumin
  • 1 t fenugreek
  • 1 t garlic powder
  • 1 t ginger
  • 1 t pepper
  • 1 t salt
  • 1/2 t allspice
  • 1/2 t cloves
  • 1/2 t coriander
  • 1/4 t turmeric
  • 1/8 t cinnamon
  • 1/8 t nutmeg

Khmeli-Suneli (Georgian)

The names of these mixes are pretty cool, right? And khmeli-suneli tops them all. It’s just fun to say (KMAY-lee soo-NAY-lee). This has equal parts herbiness and depth; it can impart some of the savor that you find, say, in Italian dishes flavored with oregano and parsley, but it’s got much more complexity. Because of that, it works just as well as a rub. Try the following: a chop or steak with a rub made from salt, a pinch of sugar, and khmeli-suneli rub. Serve with hearty bread, some olive oil, red wine or dark beer, roasted vegetables, and a pickle. Go for it. Or if you’re a lazy bachelor, just put it on pasta. No judgment.

  • 1 T marjoram
  • 1 T dill
  • 1 T parsley
  • 1 T savory
  • 1 T mint
  • 1 T coriander
  • 1/2 T fenugreek leaves
  • 1/2 t black pepper
  • 1/2 t fenugreek seeds
  • 2 bay leaves, crushed

I know that Ugasanie is Belorussian, not Georgian. Sorry.

Adobo (Mexican)

This is not the Filipino adobo, i.e. their national dish in which a meat, generally pork or chicken, is cooked in a vinegar-based sauce (you should try it sometime, it’s great). This particular mix will serve you well in all manner of situations, particularly in with beans, sauces, stirred into rice, or sprinkled over pico de gallo. It’s especially useful as an all-in-one flavoring for chili, to save yourself a bit of time.

  • 2 T salt
  • 1 T paprika
  • 2 t black pepper
  • 2 t garlic powder
  • 1.5 t dried oregano
  • 1.5 t cumin
  • 1.5 t chili powder
  • 1 t turmeric

Dukkah (Egyptian)

Not to be confused with dukkha, which in Buddhism refers to the unrelenting suffering experienced by the unenlightened. I suppose that dukkah isn’t really a spice mix at all, more like a topping, since the most common usage is simply to dip a piece of flatbread in olive oil, dunk it in dukkah, and nom. But it’s good and you can use it in all manner of dishes too! Try it as a crust for chicken breasts, thighs, or lamb chops. Or, for a rather awesome dessert, take a biscuit or piece of sweet bread (not sweetbread- that’s a kidney), drizzle it with honey, sprinkle with dukkah and go to town.

  • 1/4 c hazelnuts or walnuts
  • 1/4 c pistachios or almonds
  • 2/3 c white sesame seed
  • 3 T coriander seed
  • 1 T cumin seed
  • 1 t fennel seed
  • 1/2 t aniseed
  • 1 t sea salt
  • 1/2 t black pepper

Herbes de Provence

I know, I know. For Americans it’s popular to refer to the French as a bunch of wine-swilling perpetually surrendering communists. But they know their food, it’s pretty hard to argue with that. This is one of the most versatile mixes out there, as you can use it to enhance pretty much any dish hailing from within or remotely near Europe. Even just used on roast chicken, it works wonderfully. You can even make a side of simple steamed vegetables sound fancy- and taste fancy- with a healthy dose of this, plus a drizzle of walnut oil or fancy olive oil (think Spanish varieties for the latter; they tend to have a bit more bite).

  • 2 t oregano
  • 2 t thyme
  • 2 t savory
  • 2 t basil
  • 2 t marjoram
  • 2 t sage
  • 2 t rosemary
  • 2 t fennel


That’s all for now! Hope y’all enjoy a little bit. Want more mixes? Or recipes using said mixes? Or just questions or snarky comments? Hit me up in the comments.

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