Urfa Biber and a Stunning Spice Blend

Aged Balsamic Salt, Hiwa Kai Lava Salt, Harissa, Vintage Merlot Salt, Tea Malsala, Urfa Biber

On her recent visit, my good friend and colleague Dr. Patti Kim brought me some stunning spices. One was completely new to me and now it's a favorite:  urfa biber.

"Biber" is the Turkish word for pepper and this one is cultivated in the Urfa region of Turkey. The chili is sun-dried by day and wrapped tightly by night, so it retains natural oils and stays soft and moist. It has a beautiful deep red-purple color (almost black) and tastes fruity and slightly sweet, like a raisin. It's also smokey and mildly spicy, with a hint of chocolate.

Now that's a winning combination.

Urfa biber is the star ingredient in this unique seasoning blend. I used it as a dry rub to season grass-fed beef, but it would also be good with lamb, venison or wild salmon. Vegetarians can use it to season grilled tofu triangles and it can also be incorporated into marinades, sauces, soups and stews (like Three Alarm Chili).

Urfa biber is available at Kalustyan's in New York City and Spice Station in Los Angeles.

Urfa Biber Seasoning Blend

1 part urfa biber, crushed or ground
1 part mixed peppercorns, or substitute black peppercorns
1 part sea salt
1/2 part cumin seeds (or 1/2 part ground cumin)
1/2 part freshly ground dried rosemary leaves

Grind all ingredients in a spice grinder or with a mortar and pestle until sufficiently fine.

Use immediately or store in a labeled, air-tight container for future use.

Grass-Fed Fillet Steak with Urfa Biber Seasoning