Global Flavors Bring a New Zing to the Table

The New York Times


March 3, 2009


Make room on your spice shelf for new contenders from afar.

Merken is made by the Mapuche people from the Araucanía region of Chile. It depends on a small, curved pepper, ají cacho de cabra (goat’s horn), that is dried, partly smoked and blended with coriander seeds and salt. It is excellent dusted on fish for the grill, on seafood in a ceviche and on roasted potatoes.

Sales of merken imported by Chilean Gourmet help support Mapuche families. A 1.78-ounce jar is $7.25 from

Dukkah, an Egyptian blend of nuts, seeds and spices, has caught the fancy of Australians, who dip olive-oil soaked bread into bowls of this nubbly mixture with a touch of chili heat. Think of it for crusting chicken or fish or sprinkling on pasta. Luke Mangan, an Australian chef who also owns South Food and Wine Bar in San Francisco, is packaging his own dukkah, $8.95 for 2.1 ounces from

A somewhat nuttier, less spice-driven dukkah blend is made by Juliet Mae Fine Spices & Herbs in San Francisco, $7 for 1.5 ounces from

Kulet, an Ethiopian sauce made with red peppers, is especially good in bean and lentil stews. It can also add a new dimension to pasta sauces and stewed meats.

Eleni Woldeyes, an Ethiopian cook in Hillsboro, Ore., is producing kulet in mild and hot versions. The mild is $4.49 for a 13-ounce jar, the hot is $5.49 for 12.4 ounces from

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