Seedy sessions

Seedy sessions

Nordic Light
Simon Bajada

The act of rediscovering ancient grains together with the inventing of new techniques to prepare them and other garnishes seems to be a common practice in the kitchens of new Nordic chefs, yet this idea can be very easily applied to the home kitchen with more readily available products also.

The following is a list of suggestions for applying some simple techniques to more typical ingredients to help you build up a supply of garnishes and condiments that will bring additional textures and flavours to your dishes. The range of possibilities you can come up with here is endless, so get your thinking hat on and develop some of your own ideas too…



  1. Blended dry fruit crumble

    Using a food processor to blend dried fruits with little moisture content results in a nicely textured crumble that can be sprinkled over things. I suggest using banana chips, dried white mulberries or any dehydrated fruits. Soft dried fruits will only produce a paste if blended, so avoid these.
  2. Burnt things

    Using ash to garnish a dish can give it the perfect finish, particularly if the dish features sweet or highly acidic components, as the bitter, earthy ash will stops things in their tracks. It’s best to burn light greens that can easily have the water cooked out of them. Chives are a great, easy introduction to this.
  3. Toasting nuts, grains and seeds

    The possibilities here are extensive. When toasting nuts, bear in mind that generally the lower the temperature and the longer the cooking the better – it produces a more even cooking throughout and a better flavour once the nuts have cooled down. Always store toasted nuts, grains and seeds in a dry, cool place.

    Mixing nuts, grains or seeds together with liquids before toasting can open up a whole range of flavours. Try mixing linseeds and apple juice concentrate together before spreading them out on a baking tray and baking them in the oven. Other things I have tried are sunflower kernels in beetroot pickle brine and whole buckwheat mixed with sriracha and honey, while there’s also a great vegan ‘facon’ recipe that tastes like bacon where smoked paprika, flaked coconut and tamari sauce are mixed together, formed into clumps and then toasted in the oven – it’s incredibly similar! Try this but with the addition of turmeric and cayenne for a spicy, bright extra for your salads or other dishes.
  4. Boozy fruit

    I like soaking dried fruits. They give a fantastic finish to desserts or possibly an interesting kick-start to your morning bowl! Try mixing different fruits and liquors.
  5. Popped/ puffed grains

    While it can be tricky to prepare these at home, many popped or puffed grain varieties can be found at health food stores and supermarkets. Look for popped amaranth, quinoa, millet and wheat – use them in cereal bowls or clump them together with coconut or vegetable oil or honey and bake them in the oven.
  6. Deyhdrated fruit

    These crumbly, aerated bursts of flavour are becoming more readily available. You can make a dust with them, serve them in salads or in cereal bowls, or use them to garnish desserts.
  7. Crumbles

    Generally made for sweet dishes, crumbles can work on savoury dishes too (as the mustard rye crumble demonstrates) and can be made with any type of flaked grain. The more traditional mix of flour, butter and sugar can be altered with spices or honey to make something more interesting. It’s important to get the wet/dry consistency correct before baking.
  8. Pre-bought textures

    I love having cacao nibs, pollen, toasted sesame seeds and poppy seeds, among others, on hand in the pantry for scattering over dishes before serving.
  9. Faux caviars

    I love the texture you can achieve by mixing certain seeds or grains together with liquids. For example, the mustard seed caviar or the quinoa caviar. Try finishing cooked tapioca pearls in a flavoured liquid such as carrot or tomato juice.
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