Consumer Critique: Pereg Spices
I recently received a package from Pereg Natural Foods containing a variety of spices - Cajun, Luisa (lemon verbena), turmeric, sumac, hilba (fenugreek), roasted paprika, and meatball. Some of them I had no problem figuring out how to use (meatball, Cajun, and roasted paprika) but others I've never used before. Luckily, Pereg has some good descriptions that gave me some ideas.
Hilbeh - Also known as fenugreek, methya, menthya, vendayam, menthulu, uluva, uluhaal and methi. In Persia it is known as shanbalîleh. The name hilbeh is Arabic. It has a very light bitter and spicy taste (which might require getting used to). It is commonly used in Indian cuisine and is said to help improve digestion, increase libido, and treat hormonal disorders.
Sumac - The sumac bush, native to the Middle East, produces deep red berries, which are dried and ground into coarse powder. Less commonly, the berries may also be sold whole. Ground sumac is a versatile spice with a tangy lemony flavor, although more balanced and less tart than lemon juice. A small sprinkle also adds a beautiful pop of color to any dish. Sumac is one of the main components in the spice mix za'atar. It's great over vegetables, grilled lamb, chicken and fish. Ground sumac also makes a nice, flavorful topping on dips like hummus.
Sumac has been used across the globe for its medicinal properties and uses. Research has shown that health benefits of sumac are many, as it is naturally anti-fungal, anti-microbial, anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory.
Luisa Leaves - Luisa is sold under several names, the most common being lemon verbena. It can be found as prepared tea (bags), as loose tea, and as dried leaves. Luisa is believed to help one relax, aids in digestion, soothes menstrual pains and cramps and aids in kidney function. The leaves are used to add a lemon flavor to fish and poultry dishes, vegetable marinades, salad dressings, jams, puddings, Greek yogurt and beverages. It also is used to make herbal teas, or added to standard tea in place of actual lemon (as is common with Moroccan tea). It can also be used to make a sorbet.
There were several things I liked about these spices. First was the flavor - They were potent enough that I could taste them with onl a little bit, but not so strong that they overpowered the dish if I accidentally put just a little too much in. I first tried the Cajun and paprika, since that's what I was comfortable with, and I loved the little kick it added - but not so much that my kids wouldn't eat it. Lemon verbena and sumac were also fun to try, since the description said they paired well with fish and my kids love fish. They did add a nice tangy lemony flavor, subtly different, but both good.
I'm looking forward to trying the rest of the spices as well. The only one I'm not quite sure about is the Hilba, but I'm sure I'll come up with something - especially with the help of all their recipes.Back To Articles