Fun with food is my goal. I thought it would be fun to work my way backwards through the alphabet and find at least one spice or spice blend for every letter. Having started with Za’atar and then Yellow Mustard Seed, I was on a mission for ‘X‘. Which brought me to Xin Jiang. Xin Jiang is a region in Western China whose borders surround regions of Russia, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. The ingredient that makes this Chinese blend special is the addition of cumin seeds to the chili combination, an influence of the surrounding countries. The Xin Jiang spice blend that I found can be used as a rub on chicken and other meats before grilling or barbequing. However I found this spice blend and suggested recipe and modified it to create an easy light lunch or dinner with veggies and tofu, also a healthy and easy meal for students going away to university/college or making themselves a quick and healthy meal at home.
My version of the recipe for Xin Jiang spice blend is at the end of this post. The cumin seeds, black peppercorns and Szechuan peppercorns are dry roasted for 5 minutes until fragrant then removed from the burner to cool. Grind to together in a spice grinder and add the remaining ingredients. If you would like to tone it down on the ‘hot’ scale, leave out the chili peppers. Believe me, it will be hot enough without them.
The ingredients are just a guideline. Firm tofu works well. For the vegetables, I used yellow and red peppers, carrots, one clove of garlic, green onions, red onions and garlic. So many other vegetable combinations would work. Try broccoli, zucchini, mushrooms, or eggplant. I suggest cutting everything into elongated pieces so they all fit in a wrap, if that’s the way you want to eat it. Otherwise, it makes a nice stir-fry dish too.
Heat up a tablespoon of oil in a frying pan and add tofu. Sprinkle on a tablespoon, more or less, according to your taste. This is one spicy blend. Once the tofu strips are golden brown on all sides, remove from the pan. Add the red onions and garlic first for one minute until translucent, then add the rest of the veggies until they are just slightly soft.
Xin Jiang Spice Mix
1/4 cup cumin seeds
2 tbsp. szechuan chile flakes or 3 small red chili peppers (omit for milder version)
2 tbps. black pepper
1 tbsp. szechuan peppercorns
1 tbsp. ground ginger powder
1 tbsp. garlic powder
1 1/2 tsp. chili powder
1 1/2 tsp. sea salt
- Toast Szechuan peppercorns, black peppercorns and cumin seeds until lightly browned and fragrant. Cool down.
- Grind peppercorns, cumin seeds and chili flakes in a spice grinder.
- Stir in remaining ingredients.
Xin Jiang Spice Veggie Wrap
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 garlic clove, chopped
1/2 carrot, sliced in long strips
2 green onions
1/2 red onion, sliced
1/2 red pepper and 1/2 yellow pepper, sliced long
1 block of tofu, sliced
1 tablespoon Xin Jiang spice, or to taste
2 whole wheat tortillas
- Heat oil in frying pan. Add tofu to the pan with the spice mix and stir fry until golden brown. Remove from pan and keep aside.
- Add onion and garlic and fry for 1 minute. Add remaining vegetables. When mixture is slightly softened, gently add the tofu back to pan and heat through.
- Put half the mixture on each wheat tortilla.
- Enjoy an easy healthy meal.