Asian five spice is a pretty common item at most American and European supermarkets these days, thanks to a ton of Chinese restaurants, and a few lead-dog television chefs who’ve introduced the flavor to Euramerican palettes, but Qâlat-Daqqa?
Qâlat-Daqqa, (Pronounced Kala-Daksa), more commonly known in English speaking countries, like Australia, that use it more, as Tunisian Five Spice, is still relatively new to the North American consumer, especially if they don’t shop at Arabic or African specialty markets.
It’s an aromatic and a flavorant of foods. The nutmeg, cinnamon and clove add aroma, the clove, pepper and grains of paradise contribute a little nutty spice and peppery pop.
World Spice makes a good one, custom grind too, but if you have most or all of these spices, consider grinding up your own as you can make just what you need, which keeps it both fresher and as one fewer thing taking up space in your spice aromata.
This is one of the few spice blends where different grinds can be used for different dishes. If you’re adding it to a rice dish, you’d want fine. For a roast chicken, you might go a med-fine grind, and, if you’re using it for tagine lamb, you might go with a coarser grind because it will cook for some time and soften, but still have a nice texture crusting the meat.
Grains of paradise and black pepper are from the same seasoning families and, in ancient versions of the recipe, were probably just grains of paradise, until pepper with a bit more kick came along. Grains of paradise, though, have much bigger flavor, which, for this mix, is key. In my variation, then, I hit the dish with a smoother, sweeter Saigon cinnamon, which is closer to Cassia, which is what the Tunisian recipes call for. I dial up the grains of paradise a bit and the pepper down.
This spice blend is great for many uses. I riff a Tunisian fried rice that rocks with it, and it’s great on all kinds of roasted meats, especially chicken, duck and lamb.
- Spice Grinder or Coffee Mill or mortar/pestle.
- Work bowl or cup
- Rosti Mepal Modula spice box or other airtight container.
- Sharp knife/cutting board (Cinnamon stick only)
- 2 teaspoons grains of paradise (melegueta pepper)
- 2 teaspoons whole Tellicherry black peppercorns
- 1 tablespoon whole cloves
- 1 tablespoon ground nutmeg
- 1 tablespoon ground Saigon cinnamon or 1-2 pieces canela
- If you’re going to use a cinnamon stick, be sure to break it into 2-3 smaller pieces before putting it into a spice mill, or cutting it up with a knife and coarse chopping it if you’re using a mortar/pestle. Skip this step with ground cinnamon.
- In a spice grinder of your choice (see above), place all the ingredients. Grind to the desired consistency for your application.
- Use in your recipe or store in an airtight container. Best to use within 6-8 months for maximum flavor, but it keeps, in dry storage, for a long time.