Baharat – A Mixed Spice2010-01-17
We are continuing to progress through The Complete Middle East Cookbook and found an interesting spice in the Gulf States section. The mixed spice is Baharat and is an ingredient for the recipe Batata Charp with meat filling in the Iraq section. It looked like I had all the ingredients to make the spice except one; Cassia Bark.
I have never heard of cassia bark before so I was going to have to do without or figure out a substitute. A quick google search lead me to the Gourmet Sleuth website for answers. It explains that it is a bark similar to cinnamon, but darker. The spice is represented as cheaper than cinnamon but I am not sure that would be the case here in the United States. So any ground cinnamon substitute should work as a substitute. If it was only that easy. The recipe calls for a 1/4 cup of cassia bark. How much ground cinnamon is that? My answer was to take out cinnamon sticks and put them in 1/4 cup and weigh it. The cinnamon sticks came to 1/2 oz. So I will use 1/2 oz of cinnamon as the substitute. Here is the recipe to make a yield of about 2 cups:
1/2 cup black peppercorns
1/4 cup coriander seeds
1/4 cup cassia bark (or 1/2 oz ground cinnamon)
1/4 cup cloves
1/3 cup cumin seeds
2 teaspoons of cardamom seeds
4 whole nutmegs (~1/4 cup ground nutmeg)
1/2 cup of paprika
Place the first six ingredients into a blender and grind to a powder. I use a basic coffee grinder to grind my spices. I also cut my quantities of spices to 1/4 of the above which just fit my grinder. You may need to mix it all together and grind in batches. Next grate the nutmeg and blend into the spices and add the paprika (Note: If you are using ground cinnamon instead of cassia bark blend it in at this stage). Store it in an airtight jar or container.
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posted by Dorothy Harpell on January 19, 2010
I used to make cassia bud pickles which was a recipe for sweet pickles that came from my mother. It has been a while since I made these pickles but what I remember is that cassia buds look somewhat like allspice berries but are smaller and wrinkled. Perhaps they was still be available and if ground might produce the same flavour.
posted by Stuart on January 19, 2010
Thanks for the comments. Here is a source I found for the buds. (http://www.thespicehouse.com/spices/cassia-buds). They say Cassia Buds are the unopened flowers of the cassia (cinnamon) tree that are picked just before blooming and dried in the sun. So same tree and probably close in flavor. They say the flavor is close to cinnamon but with a more of a floral, winey scent. So I suspect that cinnamon probably remains a close substitute or these. They did not sell the bark.