At the end of the hottest day on record, it seemed very appropriate to be welcoming keen cooks, gardeners and food writers to join us for a spice adventure in the beautiful surroundings of Chelsea Physic Garden.
We’re always keen to explore adventurous new ways to cook and enjoy Tenderstem® broccoli, so this year we’ve been working with celebrated cook and author Meera Sodha and the single-origin spice experts at Rooted Spices to create a spice blend that’s perfect with Tenderstem®.
As the temperatures rocketed to something hotter than the fruity Kashmiri Chilli that features in our blend, our Spice Girls – Meera Sodha and Rooted Spices founders, Rachel Walker and Clara Glass - were joined by Chelsea Physic Garden’s Head of Education, Michael Holland to take our guests on an inspiring spice journey.
Michael explained the botany of spices and the places they’re grown throughout the world focussing on those included in the Brassica Blend: cumin, coriander, turmeric, Kashmiri chilli, fennel seeds and nigella seeds. Guests were able to see each spice as part of the plant and to learn where they originate from. All the spices included in the Brassica Blend also grow at Chelsea Physic Garden and could be seen in the garden growing together.
Meera then gave the audience real insight into her use of spices and the character each of them brings to her cooking. She explained that for her, coriander seeds are sunny and citrus in nature making a dish uplifting and fresh while cumin is earthy and comforting. She told us what spices pair perfectly with different ingredients – try fennel seeds for adding sweetness and don’t be tempted to use too much turmeric, adding a ¼ teaspoon at a time.
Rachel and Clara talked about the sourcing and tasting of spices and what to look for when choosing them. Fennel seeds should be fat and green in colour, turmeric shouldn’t be too bitter and don’t be drawn in by the brightest yellow as some ground turmeric powders are coloured artificially. Their advice was to buy your spices in small quantities to keep them as fresh as possible and think about buying the best you can afford because these ingredients are what will bring exciting flavours to the dish you are preparing with love and effort.
After the talk, guests were served Meera’s Indian-spiced Maharani Salad with Tenderstem® broccoli, which features the Brassica Blend spice mix to evoke the flavours of Rajasthan. If you’d like to try the dish for yourself the recipe is here. You can buy a limited edition pack of Brassica Blend from Rooted Spices.
Gathered around candlelit tables, surrounded by the exotic planting of Chelsea Physic Garden, the group discussed what they had learned enjoying the flavours and fragrance of these amazing ingredients paired with Tenderstem®. After the hottest day on record, the heavens opened and for a moment we could have been in a jungle spice plantation as the warm rain fell.