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This month Kate Hemphill showcases three spice blends – sambar curry powder, paella spice mix and Creole seasoning – from the Herbies range that transform simple, relatively inexpensive family meals – a burger, a one-pot stew and stuffed peppers – into something you could serve for a more special occasion.

Kate Hemphill is a trained chef. She contributed the recipes to Ian Hemphill’s best-selling Spice and Herb Bible. You will find more of her recipes on the Herbies spices website. Or you can follow her on Instagram (@herbieskitchen). Kate uses Herbies spices and blends, but you can substitute with whatever you have in your pantry.

The Louisiana-style seasoning works amazingly with this healthy and flavoursome dish, giving the rice, beans and corn a huge lift. For meat lovers, serve alongside beef, lamb or chicken grilled with a sprinkle of the seasoning. Prep time: 10 mins • Cook time: 1 hour • Makes: 6


1½ cups low or lower GI brown rice (such as Doongara or brown basmati)
6 capsicums, top cut off and seeds removed
1 red onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tbsp Creole seasoning
2 ripe red tomatoes, peeled and diced
½ cup corn kernels
400ml (14oz) can black beans, rinsed and drained

Pre-heat oven to 170C (340F). • Rinse rice and cook until tender, drain. • Meanwhile, sweat onions in a little olive oil until soft, then add garlic and spices. Stir for one minute, then add tomatoes, cooked rice, corn and black beans. Combine well and taste for seasoning. • Firmly stuff the capsicums with rice mixture, place lids on top, and bake for 40 minutes, or until capsicum is tender when pierced.

Per serve 
1445kJ/345 calories; 14g protein; 2.5g fat (includes 0.5g saturated fat; saturated : unsaturated fat ratio 0.25); 60g available carbs (includes 14g sugars and 46g starches); 13g fibre; 455mg sodium; 967mg potassium; sodium : potassium ratio 0.47

These burgers make great picnic or party food cooked bite-size and served with raita. You can use any of Herbie’s many Indian spice blends in these burgers, depending on your mood. The mild sambar powder used here is perfect for younger children. Prep time: 15 mins • Cook time: 10 mins • Serves: 6


500g (1lb 2oz) lean lamb mince
1½ tbsp sambar powder
½ tsp salt
1 egg
1 tbsp grated brown onion
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 cup Greek yoghurt
1 small cucumber, diced
8 mint leaves, finely chopped

To serve
Turkish bread or burger buns
½ cup mango chutney
2 cups mixed salad leaves
fresh onion and mint for garnish, optional

For burgers, pulse all ingredients in a food processor, or mix well in a large bowl with your hands. Shape into 6 burgers and refrigerate until ready to cook (up to 24 hours). • Combine the yoghurt, cucumber and mint to make the raita and season to taste. • Heat a grill or barbecue and cook burgers for 5–6 minutes per side. Allow to rest for 2 minutes before assembling burger. • Lightly toast bread or bun, if desired, and top with raita, chutney, salad leaves, burger and garnish fresh onion rings and mint leaves.

Per serve (with Turkish bread) 
1200kJ/290 calories; 23g protein; 9g fat (includes 4g saturated fat; saturated : unsaturated fat ratio 0.8); 28g available carbs (includes 18g sugars and 10g starches); 3.5g fibre; 450mg sodium; 580mg potassium; sodium : potassium ratio 0.78

One pot stews are perfect for cooler days, and this dish benefits from a long, slow cook. This is a great dish to prepare ahead and it reheats well after storing in the fridge or freezing. Tip: check how hot your chorizo is, you may like to add some chilli powder if it is mild. Prep time: 10 mins • Cook time: 2 hours • Serves: 8


1 tbsp olive oil
2 red onions, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed
2 red bell peppers (or red capsicum) cut into 2cm pieces
¼ cup sherry vinegar
2 tbsp paella spice mix
2 x 400ml (14oz) cans crushed tomatoes
2 x 400ml (14oz) cans cannellini beans, drained
4 small semi-dried chorizo sausages (cooking chorizo), approx 400g (14oz), cut into ¾in (2cm) thick slices
flat leaf parsley

Preheat oven to 120C (300F). • Sweat onions in olive oil in an ovenproof dish on the stove top over low heat. Add garlic and capsicum once onions are soft. Pour in sherry vinegar and stir until evaporated, then add spice mix, tomatoes, beans and 1½ cups water. • In a large frying pan over high heat, briefly brown chorizo then add to stew. • Bring stew to a simmer, stirring, then place in the oven with a lid. Cook for 1½–2 hours until chorizo is meltingly tender. Check for seasoning and serve with parsley.

Per serve
1400kJ/335 calories; 20g protein; 15.5g fat (includes 5g saturated fat; saturated : unsaturated fat ratio 0.48); 22g available carbs (includes 11g sugars and 11g starches); 12g fibre; 790mg sodium; 840mg potassium; sodium : potassium ratio 0.94