It’s amazing how much you can do with so little. Think about how six simple ingredients can become a delicious meal, and a spice blend can transform basic dishes into gourmet creations. With Cinco de Mayo and Mother’s Day around the corner, I’ve decided to share new six-ingredient meals and six-spice blends that I am calling SEEMA SIX Specials. They’re all easy to make with ingredients you can find right in your own pantry.
Staying at home has inspired me to start cooking again. We all have different strategies for relaxing and getting away from the stresses of daily life, even when we can’t get out of our homes. For me, relaxation comes from cooking – not big, complex meals for large gatherings but unfussy meals with six ingredients. And if you have a few homemade six-spice blends handy, it’s so easy to turn home-cooked dishes into restaurant-worthy meals. One reason I love returning to the kitchen is that it reminds me of the time I spent cooking with my mother, and with my aunts and cousins. My mother was especially masterful at creating random six-spice mixes in a mortar and pestle. Another is that when I cook for my own family, I am reminded of the simple joy of sharing a meal with others.
Food is so integral to our basic needs, but it also nourishes us emotionally. For me, it’s a creative outlet. While I might flex my creativity at work or ideate strategies on conference calls, cooking uses a different part of my brain. I go into an almost meditative state. Sometimes I want to replicate my mother’s cooking, now that she is no longer around to share it with me and I try my own random six-spice mixes. Other times, I’m inspired by a specific ingredient, like fresh herbs from my garden or a lone green pepper I find in the vegetable drawer, or zucchini that looked fresh in the market. It could even be a single spice, like Aleppo pepper or fennel seed to which I add other spices to create my own six-spice mix. Remember those days pre-COVID-19 when you sometimes built an entire outfit around a pair of shoes or a scarf or jewelry? Yes, I’ve done it. Likewise, I’ve built entire recipes around one spice. Or blended a few spices (six-spices) to create a fusion blend.
Even though we all probably feel like we’re trapped inside, May is a beautiful time of year. Herbs are growing, flowers are blooming, produce is fresh, and you can begin to lighten up your meals. This year, COVID-19 has changed so many things. But while we may not be able to visit farmer’s markets this spring, there are still good things happening. We’re coming together virtually. We’re spending more time with our loved ones. We’re slowing down. For many, like me, being stuck at home has given us the time to start cooking again and create and use my six-spice blends.
Which brings me to something that I’ve been looking forward to sharing with everyone for a while now:. SEEMA’s SIX SPECIAL. They are meals I make with six ingredients, six-spices I blend into a flavor fusion, or six ways I use the same spice. But they all have one thing in common: They are simple and they are special. As Cinco de Mayo and Mother’s Day approach this week, we’re learning how to spend yet another couple of holidays at home. That’s why I want to share my tips and advice for making delicious, yet uncomplicated meals that you can in turn share with your loved ones to help brighten spirits and nourish your soul during this challenging time.
In the coming weeks, be on the lookout as I share my favorite six-spice recipe mixes and how you can incorporate them into your own cooking.
Also read about the Five Spices of Diwali