In our Spice Companion episode, Lynne Rossetto Kasper talked with spice master Lior Lev Sercarz about three unique spices included in his tome Spice Companion. Below you'll find addition information from Spice Companion on uses for ajowan, amchoor, and urfa. All three spices are available via the website for Sercarz's spice shop La Boiteî.


Origin: Native to South India. Cultivated in India, Iran, Egypt, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.

Traditional Uses:

  • Baghaar (method of seasoning by frying spices in oil) - India

  • Chaat masala (spice blend) - India and Pakistan

  • Berbere (spice blend) - Ethiopia and Eritrea

  • Parathas (flatbread) - Southwestern Asia

  • Pakoras (fritters) - Southwestern Asia and Gujarat

Note: Toasting recommended

Recommended Pairings:

  • Spinach Salad

  • Sautéed artichokes

  • Baked bass

  • Split peas

  • Roast turkey

Spice Pairings: caraway, chile flakes, cumin, fennel, turmeric

Recipe Ideas:

1. Add whole ajowan seeds to your favorite pancake recipe and serve with whipped feta cheese for brunch

2. Season thinly sliced cucumber with whole ajowan seeds, white vinegar, and course salt for a quick pickle

3. Simmer peeled garlic cloves in milk until tender, season with whole ajowan, and purée until smooth for a condiment


Origin: Native to and cultivated in India

Traditional Uses

  • Authentic to India

  • Mango chutney

  • Chaat masala (spice blend)

  • Potato pakora (fritters)

  • Samosa (savory baked or fried pastry)

  • Chickpea soup

Recommended Pairings:

  • Yogurt parfait

  • Lentil salad

  • Cauliflower velouté

  • Steamed mussels

  • Apple pie

Spice Pairings: basic, dried garlic, ginger, orange peel, turmeric

Recipe Ideas:

1. Peel and chop 1 ripe mango and purée in a blender with 2 pinches of amchoor and a splash of hot sauce. Use as a sauce for meats and fish.

2. Stir ground amchoor and shredded chicken into simmering coconut milk and chicken stock for a quick Asian-inspired soup.

3. Mix 2 pinches of amchoor with 2 chopped reip avocados, chopped cilantro, and sliced scallions, season with salt, and serve as a dip or spread.


Origin: Native to South and Central America and later the Turkish town of Urfa. Cultivated in Turkey.

Traditional Uses:

  • Authentic to Turkey

  • Smoky eggplant dip

  • Lamb kebabs

  • Roasted vegetables

  • Lahmacu (flatbread)

  • Çig köfte (raw meatballs)

Recommended Pairings:

  • Fried eggs

  • Carbonara

  • Orange barbecue sauce

  • Hummus

  • Chocolate mousse

Spice Pairings: garlic, onion, orange peel, oregano, rose

Heat Index: Light to medium

Recipe Ideas:

1. Sprinkle crushed Urfa chile on thinly sliced fresh sea scallops and finish with a drizzle of olive oil and lemon juice for a quick carpaccio

2. For a different take on fritters, add crushed Urfa chile to sautéed kale or collard greens and add bread crumbs, eggs, and ricotta cheese before frying.

3. Combine crushed Urfa chile with melted dark chocolate and drizzle over vanilla ice cream, then top with Urfa-spiced nuts.