i came across a recipe for chickpeas in star anise and date masala on the new york times. the combination of spices (cumin, cayenne, cardamom, star anise and black pepper with dates) is to me quite unusual. the star-cum-flower like shape of star anise makes it one of the prettiest spices. i love the strong piney and aniseed smell of it but am hesitant to use it because of the strength of its flavour, particularly the strong liquorice notes. so when i saw the recipe above i figured i'd give it a go and see what it is like.
|the eight pointed flower shaped star anise|
i had to substitute the cayenne for paprika which worked just as well with the other spices. o and i ate it with seeded bread and some yoghurt on the side. both of us liked it and i was surprised at how much the masala mellowed the sweet dates. i had thought that the dish would have been much sweeter but the dates basically blunted the spices as if i had added a tablespoon of date molasses instead. next time i made this i am serving it with a slightly thinned down yoghurt with a little lemon and some naan bread. or it would be really nice for brunch with a poached or fried egg.