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Old 02-19-2020, 08:41 AM   #1
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What are common Halal (food cart) spices

Everytime Im in NYC and pass a Halal Food Truck, I love the way the food smells. There is a unique herb/ spice that I am smelling but Im unable to identify it. Im assuming what im smelling is the marinade / spice rub ( or whatever) is used on their meats, but being a vegetarian, I haven't tasted it.

Ive looks online a few times, and have come across coriander, cumin, lemon and even oregano as some spices and flavors that are common in this type of cooking. I dont know what im smelling, but I know its not one of the above.

Fast forward to last night, I was in NYC to see The Eagles at MSG ( great show, although the crowed immediately sitting next to/ in front of and behind us, were annoying. Anyway, pre show we went out to eat and I ordered the following:

Kebabs
Grilled kefta kebabs, campfire potatoes, torched broccoli, ground mustard seed, harissa, pan roasted pine nuts


it had the same flavor ( that I had smelled over the years from the food trucks). As I expected , it tasted as good as it smelled, but still a mystery.

I cant really describe it, cause its new and unique to me and ive never either cooked with it, or used it in such away. the only way I can describe it, is it almost appears as if its a taste/ smell that is typically used in a sweet situation , but now being used as savory. Almost like cinnamon is used in moroccan food. But, its not cinnamon.

For all I know, maybe its the combo of multiple herbs and spices that gives that unique smell / taste.

So, for all you guys and gals who have any idea of what Im trying to say, any guidance would be appreciated.

Thanks

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Old 02-19-2020, 09:00 AM   #2
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Not sure if this would work for you but, would it make sense to contact the restaurant/food truck company and ask what you would like to know?

I have done that and found that, with sincere compliments about their food, I was told what I wanted to know..

Ross
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Old 02-19-2020, 09:14 AM   #3
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Try this, from Kenji López-Alt of Serious Eats.

https://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/...ce-recipe.html

Is there a tangy, citrusy element to the flavor? Ground sumac (not the American poison sumac) is a common seasoning in the Middle East.

What is Sumac?
https://www.thekitchn.com/inside-the...et-sumac-67042
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Old 02-19-2020, 09:55 AM   #4
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When I think of foods from that area, I expect to use spices like cumin, allspice, cardamom, corriander, clove, sumac, nutmeg, paprika. . .
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Old 02-19-2020, 10:00 AM   #5
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Ras al hanout maybe? It's common in Moroccan cooking.


It's a blend meaning "top of the House" or something similar. Commonly used ingredients include cardamom, cumin, clove, cinnamon, nutmeg, mace, allspice, dry ginger, chili peppers, coriander seed, peppercorn, sweet and hot paprika, fenugreek, and dry turmeric.


Could fenugreek be the missing element in what you taste?
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Old 02-19-2020, 01:07 PM   #6
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Maybe "seven spices", sometimes referred to as "Arabic seven spices" or "Lebanese seven spices"? I bought some at a local ethic supermarket, with a strong Arabic / Mediterranean leaning.
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Old 02-19-2020, 04:10 PM   #7
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Maybe Asafetida but my bet would also be sumac.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asafoetida
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Old 02-19-2020, 04:44 PM   #8
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Ive had Sumac in the past, so I dont think its sumac ( by itself).

Im guessing it may be just a spice combo, as opposed to a specific spice that is confusing my senses and keeping me from identifying just one sustpect ( as Ive tried all of the above spices, as well).

I actually just ordered the "Arabic Seven Spices" to give me a starting point.

I guess the ' thrill of the hunt' is another reason why I love to cook so much.

Thanks for the suggestions, keep them coming if another one comes to mind.

Ill keep you guys/ gals posted should I stumble across the answer.
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Old 02-21-2020, 02:50 PM   #9
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Asafetida has very strong smell and a strong earthy, oniony flavor. Used sparingly (and stored in a tightly sealed jar, inside the container it comes it).
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Old 02-22-2020, 01:21 AM   #10
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Larry, this is just a shot in the dark idea. Could the spice you're looking for be Za'atar?
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Old 02-22-2020, 09:42 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kayelle View Post
Larry, this is just a shot in the dark idea. Could the spice you're looking for be Za'atar?
Do you mean za'atar the single herb, or za'atar the spice mix? Za'atar the herb is not widely available in the United States, although it might be easier to find in NYC. Za'atar the spice mix is a combination of sumac, thyme, sesame seeds and salt, usually. Some people, and therefore some vendors, use a proprietary mix that might include oregano or other herbs.

https://www.seriouseats.com/2010/07/...ow-to-use.html
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Old 02-22-2020, 12:56 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by GotGarlic View Post
Do you mean za'atar the single herb, or za'atar the spice mix? Za'atar the herb is not widely available in the United States, although it might be easier to find in NYC. Za'atar the spice mix is a combination of sumac, thyme, sesame seeds and salt, usually. Some people, and therefore some vendors, use a proprietary mix that might include oregano or other herbs.

https://www.seriouseats.com/2010/07/...ow-to-use.html

I'm talking about the spice mix GG since Larry thinks it must be a combination of spices.

I haven't tried Za'atar myself but I'm looking forward to getting my order from The Spice House.
I've heard you speak of it often with glowing reports.
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Old 02-22-2020, 01:14 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kayelle View Post
I'm talking about the spice mix GG since Larry thinks it must be a combination of spices.

I haven't tried Za'atar myself but I'm looking forward to getting my order from The Spice House.
I've heard you speak of it often with glowing reports.
I think you'll really like it Let us know what you think.
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Old 02-24-2020, 03:51 PM   #14
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Mahleb, is a part of kebab spices, you dont need much, just a little to get this lovely, unique flavour.
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Old 02-24-2020, 07:12 PM   #15
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Mahleb, is a part of kebab spices, you dont need much, just a little to get this lovely, unique flavour.
Interesting. I've only heard of that being used in sweet dishes and baked goods.

This was written by the author of the cookbook about Turkish cuisine I started cooking from last year.
https://www.tastecooking.com/turkeys-elusive-spice/
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Old 02-25-2020, 06:09 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by CakePoet View Post
Mahleb, is a part of kebab spices, you dont need much, just a little to get this lovely, unique flavour.
Ive never heard of it, which is cool, cause Im going to order some just to see what it smells/ tastes like. I love finding new things. Thanks.
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Old 02-25-2020, 06:45 AM   #17
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Mahleb, is a part of kebab spices, you dont need much, just a little to get this lovely, unique flavour.

Good to know that, something new
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Old 02-25-2020, 10:27 AM   #18
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Ive never heard of it, which is cool, cause Im going to order some just to see what it smells/ tastes like. I love finding new things. Thanks.
I have some - I made scones with dried cherries with it. It's delicious. It's the pit of a specific type of cherry found in the Middle East. The article I posted above describes a and has suggestions on how to use it.
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