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I'm a Spicewalla - Amanda Houghtaling

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If you look up the definition of angel in the dictionary, you will see a photo of Amanda. With her contagious smile and warm energy, she gives "zest for life" a whole new meaning! Formerly, Amanda was a part of our little restaurant family at Chai Pani & MG Road in Asheville, NC. She currently resides in Denver, CO where she is a nutrition student and cocktail bartender, and spends much of her free time in the kitchen where she loves to experiment with flavors and ingredients to create mindblasting food (using the freshest Spicewalla spices, of course!) Her creativity behind the bar and in the kitchen inspires us and we can't wait to see what she does next.

home chef & bartender extraordinaire, amanda houghtaling

Tell us a little about yourself and what you do!
These days I consider myself a student. I am currently in school to become a Holistic Nutrition Therapist and spend most of my time studying science and working towards my degree. In the "before times" I was a bartender, and I'll likely always identify as one. I'm absolutely obsessed with flavor and using unique ingredients.

Which job title most accurately describes you?
Home Chef / Spice Enthusiast / Bartender

What spice(s) do you use the most in the kitchen?
Kashmiri chilli powder changed my life! I love how floral it is with the perfect amount of spice, and that color! Wow!

Why do you think using fresh spices is important when it comes to creating delicious recipes?
Do you like the flavor of dust? Yeah, me neither. Fresh spices just have more flavor. Most spices have nutritional benefits and you can lose those over time. Fresh is always best!

Describe the moment you fell in love with Spicewalla?
I am a huge Priya Krishna fan. When she came out with a cookbook paired with Spicewalla spices I was stoked! I cooked my way through that book over quarantine and stocked up on Spicewalla spices to do that with. After working for CPRG years ago I knew that I could trust the quality of anything I got from Spicewalla, and boy was I right!

What was your inspiration for the tamarind masala daiquiri you came up with and what spice did you use for it?
She was loosely inspired by Jal Jeera which is tangy, spicy, sweet and savory all at once. Instead of coming up with my own blend of spices, I reached for Spicewalla Chaat Masala. I love the funkiness that the black salt and hing bring to the cocktail. The black pepper and ginger really warm things up, and the coriander brings a nice floral note. So complex! To bring some tang into the mix I used tamarind as the fruit base for the syrup, and to freshen things up the cocktail gets shaken with fresh mint. It's a total flavor explosion! I also love that "chaat" essentially means "snack", making this a true Snaquiri! (Check out her cocktail recipe here.)

What is your favorite trick or tip when using spices?
Bloom your spices! Giving a quick toast in a pan or sizzling spices in fat really helps bring out their flavor and aroma.

Do you have a favorite memory of a spice used in a dish or drink that blew your mind? What was it?
I grew up in an Italian family. My grandfather made his own cured meats and I distinctly remember loving the Finnochiona with big pieces of fennel and cracked pepper.

What is your desert island spice (if you could only choose one to use forever!)
Peppercorns. Are people even allowed to cook without S&P??

What is a spice or blend you'd love to see from us in the future?
Custom drinking chocolate blends! I love to make my own but I also love the convenience of someone doing it for me. (ps- add Kashmiri chili, it is SO good in hot cocoa!)

Which Spice Girl are you?
I'm Masala Spice, a little bit of everything ;)

Follow Amanda on Instagram, @amandas_pour_decisions!

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