I’ve been fascinated by spices for as long as I can remember. Coming from Trinidad where spices, particularly Indian spices play such a vital role in our cuisine, is in part the reason why I’m so enamored with spices even to this day. Needless to say why I was so excited to meet Driss Balouane, a spice guru and owner of Hadaya (which in Moroccan means “gifts”) Spice at my local Green Market. For Driss, selling spices isn’t just a business, it’s his life passion and it shows. A self proclaimed history buff, Driss long ago became fascinated by the role spices played throughout ancient history. I got a chance to sit with Driss to get his perspective on what led him to start Hadaya Spice, what are some of his favorite spices, and much more. Read on!
I get a sense that becoming a spice merchant is something that you are called to do. It’s a passion. Take us down the path that led to you start Hadaya Spice.
The path that led to me starting Hadaya Spice, was that every time I wanted to cook something I grew up eating, I couldn’t find the right ingredients. Spices sold in stores, are spices in name only. A far cry from what high quality spices taste and smell like. Being an American-Moroccan, I wanted to offer my customers some of the most exotic, hard to find spices, blends, and herbs inspired from my Moroccan background. Hadaya Spice has allowed me to share the hidden treasures of authentic spices from around the globe. The ones I grew up seeing my mom use in her kitchen in Morocco.
For those who may not be familiar, how would you describe Moroccan cuisine?
I may be biased but I feel that Moroccan cuisine is one of the finest in the world. It is centuries old. From Moroccan couscous to tagine, it’s not just cooking a meal. It’s state of the art, where all kinds of meat, fish, seafood, vegetables are combined with saffron, turmeric, cinnamon, cumin, peppers, sea salts, and olive oil to create the most colorful, and delicious meals you can ever imagine.
Your spices are known for their distinct quality. Where do you source your spices from?
Our spices, herbs, and blends have distinctive aromas and flavors because they are are sourced for their lands of origin, where they were discovered centuries ago. In addition, everything we carry is certified Kosher, and are chemical and GMO free.
You offer many varieties which could be a little overwhelming to someone who isn’t very knowledgeable about spices. What would be in your “Spice Starter Kit” that you would recommend to a novice cook?
My “Spice Starter Kit” that I would recommend to a novice cook would be: turmeric, cinnamon, Hungarian paprika, garlic, cumin, and ginger.
What are your top five spice blends that you recommend trying?
We carry over 150, and each one of these blends and spices are unique and rare. It will not be just to say this one is better than others, but I suggest these to start with :
Indian Dal Curry
Moroccan Ras El Hanout
Vadouvan Green Curry
Zhug, (Hot Yemeni blend)
Key West blend
What are some of the most expensive/exotic spices you’ve come across?
The most expensive spice in the world of course is saffron (can cost over $8 per gram), and we have the Superior Grade. Followed by cardamom, and vanilla beans which we carry also.
Hadaya Spice also carries a variety of teas. What are a some of your most popular variations?
We carry some of the best and finest teas you can find. All certified Organic and Fair Trade. We have a variety of Green ,Black, and Herbals teas sourced from South Africa, India, China and Japan.
In addition to the Green Market, where else can we find you?
You can shop Hadaya Spice at the Green Markets below:
Saturdays ( 9am- 1pm) West Palm Beach Green Market
Sundays ( 8am- 1pm) Palm Beach Gardens Green Market
You can also submit any of your requests at : hadayaspice.com