The rise in a healthy lifestyle resulting in healthy eating has geared people's consciousness of what they eat. Today, people use at least three sense organs to determine if a meal is tasty or not. A hot captivating meal with an inviting aroma and delicious taste is a definition of a dish and what it means. A mild spicey, tasty, flavorful food is a good option everyone strives. However, not everyone has the technique for food flavoring, especially in arewa, where there are a little culinary herb and spice orientation, apart from directly sprinkling dried spices in cooking. The art of flavoring is relatively new.
Nevertheless, its gaining momentum as a cooking necessity. Not just for its culinary benefits but health benefits as well. Since 2017, when I delve into the flavoring world. My goal is to find natural healthy flavorings and techniques, especially those that suit our cuisine in arewa. I am still exploring; however, I've tried some existing methods, and I've proven significant.
Here they are four ways to flavor any Arewa cuisine.
1. MARINATE: Marinate adds flavorful moisture to protein, makes the meats tender, and enhances the taste. Marinate is one sure way to add bold taste to protein by combining spices, herbs, seasonings, and oil to form a marinade. A marinade is the liquid flavor mixture to aid the process, while marinate is the process of dipping and allowing the protein to absorb flavors. The type of protein will determine the marinade.
The primary marinade herbs and spices for beef and chicken are onion powder/ fresh ginger, dried oregano, and rosemary-infused oil. You can add other spice blends - salt, and salt-free. On the other hand, don't marinate meat at room temperature; raw meat should be kept in the refrigerator to avoid contamination.
Here is how I make a marinade for beef or chicken
¾ cup of rosemary oil
One tablespoon onion powder
One tablespoon garlic powder
One tablespoon oregano
One teaspoon fresh ginger (crushed)
One teaspoon fresh garlic (crushed)
One teaspoon meenam blends soup seasoning
½ teaspoon salt.
Add all spices, herb, and salt in a bowl and mix.
Pour rosemary oil into the bowl and mix appropriately.
Allow to seat for 20 -30 mins before you brush or dip your chicken or beef
After marinating, put the meat or chicken in a sealable bag or bowl with a cover. Keep for at least 4hours. Then, you can grill, bake. Roast or broil.
2. FLAVORED WATER: like tea, you can make desire flavored water for cooking, especially food that has long been prepared plain. Such as white rice, white rice&beans, pasta, boiled yams, and potatoes. You can cook any of this food using flavored water to give your food a relish edge.
To do this, cook or soak ground spices of your choice in water. After some time strain, with a filter and use the flavored water. I mostly use Najlah savory spice, buy here for flavored water to cook rice. It gives it warmth pleasant menthol aroma.
If you're soaking, use hot water for at least 2hours. After which you use a filter to strain. This process of re-hydration allows the spices to release its flavor and colors, which saturates the water. Use spice with bold flavor; and color (for natural food color). For color, you can use saffron to get a yellow sun color, for white rice and, star anise or cinnamon for brown rice.
3. FLAVORED OILS: Flavored oil, also known as an infused oil, is an excellent way to add flavor to food; Infuse oil is excellent for stir fry, pasta, salad dressing, and sauces; such oils spreads evenly in any dish more than herb or spice. Though this practice is relatively new in arewa, Nigeria, it's an excellent way to add extra flavor to food.
You can prepare your flavored oils at home using oil(especially olive oil) and spice/herbs of choice. Herbs or spices are incorporated into oil for some time to produce the desired Flavor oil. The herb or spice used will determine the oil flavor, ultimately the aroma. Care should be applied when preparing flavored oil to avoid botulism.
I make my flavored oils to use them at once. At most twice. It hardly stays for two days. to avoid contamination.
For oregano oil, I use One tablespoon Crushed oregano(dried), 1/2 cup Vegetable oil. Heat oil, When it's scorching, put off heat and immediately sprinkle oregano. Allow it to cool down completely. Strain using a filter; Drizzle over cucumber Salad.
4. FRESH AND DRIED HERBS FOR GARNISH AND SAUTE: Culinary herbs are a popular agent of flavor and aroma aside from being healthy.
Does it matter if you're using fresh/dried? No! It doesn't; however, there is a distinction in flavor between fresh and dried. Therefore the technique you use to cook with either of these herbs affects the resulting taste and flavor.
To maximize fresh herb flavor or aroma, cook lightly over low heat. It's why it works best for garnishing and sauté because these are cooking techniques that allow little cooking.
For food that requires heat for a long time, you should wait until you're on the last part of cooking, then add your fresh herbs or; put off the heat before you add the fresh herbs, cover the pot, and allow to simmer.
On the other hand, dried herbs can stand the heat for a while; however, you should not overcook them not to outweigh the purpose of using them in cooking
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