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Passport to Flavor

North African spices are having a moment in the culinary world, and for good reason. The flavors are complex, exotic and yet surprisingly easy to incorporate with familiar ingredients. We asked an expert on the subject, Judy Gitomer, co-owner of The Spice & Tea Exchange in downtown Lancaster to share a few recipes featuring the flavors of this hot region for foodies right now.

​Harissa Roasted Chicken and Chickpeas 

Serves 4-6

The Spice & Tea Exchange offers more than 140 spices, 80 exclusive hand-mixed spice blends, 16 naturally flavored sugars, flavored salts and more than 30 exotic loose leaf teas, as well as a wonderful selection of accessories (


3 tablespoons Harissa Seasoning (The Spice & Tea Exchange recommended)
1 tablespoon organic extra virgin olive oil (The Spice & Tea Exchange recommended)
1 ½ tablespoons lemon juice, divided 
½ cup Greek yogurt
½ tsp salt
2 pounds chicken leg quarters
2 red onions, cut into wedges
1 pound baby carrots
15 ounce can chickpeas
Fresh parsley or mint, chopped (optional topping)
Couscous (optional side, cooked according to package directions)


1. Make harissa paste by mixing Harissa Seasoning, lemon juice and olive oil until a smooth paste is formed. 

2. Add additional tablespoon of lemon juice, Greek yogurt and salt. Pour over the chicken. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

3. Remove chicken from marinade. Grease an ovenproof skillet. Add onions, baby carrots and chickpeas on the bottom. Rest chicken on top. 

4. Roast at 400 F for 45 minutes (or until chicken’s internal temperature reaches 165 F).

5. Baste chicken and vegetables in pan juices.

6. Top with fresh parsley or mint and serve with a side of couscous. 


Berbere Burgers

Serves 4

Owners Mike and Judy Gitomer both wanted to do something different with their medical field careers. They both love to cook and try new food. They found The Spice & Tea Exchange online, went to visit one of the other stores, immediately fell in love with it and contacted the company to see about opening their own store. They opened in downtown Lancaster in July 2016 and love the friendly, vibrant community. “We invite you to come in and open the jars and smell the spices!”


For the burgers:
1 ½ pounds lean ground turkey breast
2 teaspoons of The Spice & Tea Exchange Berbere Spice Blend or mix your own (many recipes online for Berbere blend)
4 rolls or Mediterranean flatbread
Lettuce, tomato and onion for garnish

For the Coastal Sauce:
6-ounce container of plain Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon of The Spice & Tea Exchange Coastal Spice Blend
1 teaspoon lemon juice(or use store bought tzatziki instead of making your own sauce)


1. Preheat grill to 350 F.

2. Blend Berbere Spice Blend or your own blend with ground turkey breast and form into patties. Grill for approximately 4 minutes on each side.

3. Place on bun or flatbread. Top with Coastal Sauce or store bought tzatziki, lettuce, tomato and red onion.


Sukuma Wiki (African Braised Collard Greens and Kale)

Serves 4

Sukuma Wiki is Swahili and translates to “stretch the week,” a term used in many African nations to mean stretching food for the week, especially when meat is unavailable.


½ pound kale chopped into rough 1-inch pieces, including ribs
½ pound collard greens chopped into rough 1-inch pieces
2 tablespoons canola or peanut oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 medium tomatoes
1 teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
1 ½ teaspoons Kosher salt
Ground pepper to taste
½ cup water
3 tablespoons lemon juice or juice of one lemon


1. Heat oil in large skillet or pot over medium heat. 

2. Add onion and garlic and saute until soft, stirring frequently. 

3. Add cumin, coriander, turmeric and smoked paprika. Stir until blended.

4. Add chopped tomatoes; stir and cook for 2 minutes. 

 5. Add greens; mix well with onion/tomato mixture.

6. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

7. Add ½ cup water, cover and simmer on low heat 10-15 minutes until greens are cooked to desired tenderness.

8. Remove from heat and toss with lemon juice. Garnish with extra chopped tomatoes if desired.


Judy Gitomer, co-owner of The Tea & Spice Exchange


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