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How to roast spices with Alana Lowes

Alana Lowes
Thursday, June 28, 2012

To the modern cook, spices are the essence of a dish. They provide depth of flavour, aromatic notes and can define a culture. However, history tells us there was an insatiable desire to control the route of spices in the ancient world as it was highly lucrative for traders. Wars were fought and dynasty’s crumbled from the exchange of the precious produce.

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These days we have access to a plethora of spices from across the globe and knowing exactly how to use them in your everyday cooking will have your house as fragrant as a vibrant spice bazaar in Morocco.

The key to extracting the aromatic flavours from your spices, ensure they are fresh and you slowly roast them without burning. Patience is definitely a virtue when it comes to roasting the delicate seeds.

Serves: 2
Prep time: 10-15 mins (+20mins soaking time)
Cooking time: 7-9 mins


1 tbsp whole cumin seeds
1 tbsp whole fennel seeds
2 tbsp grape seed oil
1 rib eye fillet steak, large enough to feed 2 people or two smaller ones.
Juice of 1/4 lemon
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
1/4 red cabbage, finely shredded
1/4 sugar loaf cabbage
1 grated carrot


Place the cumin and fennel seeds into a dry fry pan and place over a low heat. Gently and slowly dry roast the spices, taking care not to burn them. As they begin to become fragrant, remove from the heat and set aside for a minute to cool down.

Using a mortar and pestle, grind the spices to a fine powder. Add the grape seed oil and stir to combine and create a marinade.

Pour the marinade over the meat and rub to coat the entire steak.

Preheat a grillet pan to a high heat and place the steak on to cook. Allow to cook for 2-3 minutes and then turn over to cook the other side. Allow to cook for a further 1-2 minutes for medium rare (depending on the thickness of the cut). Allow to rest for 3-4 minutes.

Meanwhile, to make the lemon vinaigrette. Place the lemon, olive oil, salt and pepper into a jar with a lid and shake to combine. Place the shredded cabbage and carrot into a bowl and pour over the lemon vinaigrette and stir to combine.

To serve, spoon the salad onto a plate and top with fresh coriander leaves and serve with the spiced rib fillet steak.


Handy Hint: roast and grind spices to add to your favourite slow cooked casserole for an extra depth of flavour.

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