Smashing Spices

The number 1 priority of CCA is to make food that tastes delicious. To accomplish this, we use lots of herbs and spices. The mortar and pestle is a very important tool in CCA.


Measure out your spices. Toasting activates the aromatic oils in some spices and really brings out their flavor. Things to toast include whole coriander and cumin seeds, cinnamon, and sunflower/pumpkin seeds. Toast them in a dry nonstick pan on low-medium heat for just about a minute, or until you can really start to smell them. Be careful not too let them burn.


One trick to prevent burning is to move the spices around in the pan.


After the spices are toasted, smash them in a mortar and pestle. You can add other spices, herbs, seeds, and oils (that you didn’t toast) at this point. Cover the mortar (with the hand you aren’t holding the pestle with) so the mix doesn’t spill over the edge. You want a dry spice mix to have the texture of sand. Adding a little salt helps grind everything up.


When the mixture is ready, taste it, adjust it until it’s perfect, and add it to whatever you’re cooking. Or put the mix in its own serving container with a spoon and let the eaters add the spice mix (or sauce) directly onto their own food.