If you are having a tasty visit to any of the genuine Middle Eastern - especially Persian - restaurants, you may find on the table in addition to salt and pepper, also a reddish powder. It is sumac, made of red berries and sprinkled over a variety of foods, from salads to lamb, chicken and fish. It has a fruity salty taste, which may create a good balance by the marinade and add a fresh note to the hummus or fattoush.
Part of my mission of brand ambassador for the multi-awarded Spice Kitchen UK, I included sumac as part of my list of favorite spices. Exciting adventure, as before that, I only shyly tried sumac in restaurants but never experienced its texture and flavor on my own.
Therefore, my first encouter involved learning how to use it in some easy, classical combinations, but as soon as I got a strong foot on the spicy ground, I moved forward creating one unique - and unusual - recipe.
Here are my three ways to use sumac in the kitchen. And it is just the beginning, as I feel bold enough to try even more creative recipes. Wait and see until the end of the post...
Summer was amazingly long in my part of the world, which allowed me - when I was not relaxing in the countryside - to create a couple of healthy recipes. I substituted salt with sumac which added even more freshness and a special taste to the salad. My favorite variant that I will keep doing it regardless of the season involved: finely chopped cucumber, canned corn, and finely chopped small tomatoes. The amount of sumac is on taste, but I personally added 1/4 teaspoon. No oil, no balsamico. Just those veggies and the fresh touch of sumac.
If you grew up with rice - which I didn't - you don't need to read cooking books to learn how to properly boil it or what spices to add. I did the hard way - and don't regret it - which also involved that I needed a lot of time to properly learn how to prepare and use basic cooking ingredients, such as rice. My favorite combination involved jasmin rice with a generous sprinkle of sumac on the top. To be served as a separate meal, or in combination with chicken or fish. As I usually find rice bland and tasteless - the water among the meals - sumac is a welcomed diversion which makes me reconsider the flavor qualities of the rice.
Banana smoothie with tahini and sumac on the top (yes, you've read it right!)
And now, the exciting recipe is finally coming, after writing what an experienced cook will rightfully call 'platitudes'. This latest combination I tried - over and over again - this weekend and I confirm it is so tasty that my guests convinced me that I definitely need to share the recipe as well. It also uses an ingredient which is so popular nowadays - tahini, especially in addition to sweets. I've personally found it a very special smoothie, with an unforgettable taste.
400 ml. canned coconut milk
2 1/2 big size banana, cut into cubes
1 teaspoon tehina
1 teaspoon brown sugar or honey - if you want some extra sweetness
1/4 teaspoon sumac
In the blender, add the coconut milk, the banana, tehina and sugar. Mix them well at moderate speed for maximum 3 minutes. Pour into glasses, add the sumac on top and let it to rest in the fridge, at least 30 minutes before serving.
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Disclaimer: Spices offered by Spice Kitchen UK for review, but the opinions are, as usual, my own