Monosodium glutamate, or MSG, is a flavor enhancer that has been used in cooking for over a century. While it is commonly used to add depth and savory flavor to dishes, some people are sensitive to it and experience adverse reactions such as headaches, nausea, and dizziness. If you are looking to avoid MSG in your cooking, there are several spice substitutes you can use to enhance the flavor of your dishes without the use of this controversial ingredient. I made this spice blend as the ultimate alternative to MSG in your meals. It is saltless (contains zero salt) and has a lot of heat added with scotch bonnets.
❓❓❓What is MSG (Monosodium glutamate)?
Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is a flavor enhancer that has been widely used in the food industry for over a century. It is a white crystalline powder that is derived from the amino acid glutamic acid and is often added to savory dishes to enhance their flavor. Despite its widespread use, there has been ongoing debate over its safety, with some people claiming that it can cause adverse health effects such as headaches and allergic reactions. However, many food safety agencies and organizations, including the World Health Organization (WHO) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), have deemed MSG to be safe when consumed in moderate amounts.
Is MSG Bad for You?
Some people have reported adverse reactions to consuming MSG, such as headaches, flushing, sweating, facial pressure or tightness, numbness, tingling, and heart palpitations. These symptoms are collectively known as “Chinese restaurant syndrome.” However, these reports are based on anecdotal evidence and have not been scientifically proven. Many food safety organizations, including the World Health Organization and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, have determined that MSG is safe to consume in moderate amounts. Nevertheless, people who are sensitive to MSG may choose to avoid it in their diets. It’s always best to consult a doctor or a registered dietitian if you have any concerns about the safety of food additives.
How to Make an MSG Alternative Spice
This spice blend combines some of the classic base for traditional Asian and African cooking. I used scotch bonnets as the heat base, which is a little too hot for some. You can use other milder forms of chilli or half the amount of scotch bonnets in this recipe. You will need the following ingredients.
The flavour of garlic is pungent and spicy, yet also has a sweet and savoury taste that makes it a versatile ingredient in many dishes. Garlic’s strong aroma and taste can overpower other ingredients, making it a great way to add depth and flavour to dishes. It is often used to add a subtle spicy kick to soups, stews, sauces, and marinades. When roasted, garlic becomes sweet and nutty, which makes it a great topping for bread or as a spread for sandwiches. For any spice to replace MSG in cooking, garlic is a must-have ingredient in any kitchen that provides a flavourful addition to any dish. You will need 5 – 10 medium garlic cloves, peeled and sliced or chopped.
The flavour of ginger is spicy, warm, and slightly sweet. It is a staple ingredient in many Asian cuisines, where it is used to add depth and zing to savoury dishes such as stir-fries and curries. Fresh ginger has a more potent flavour than dried ginger, making it a popular ingredient in marinades and sauces. Ginger also has a natural sweetness that pairs well with sweet dishes such as cakes and gingerbread. When crystallized, ginger becomes a crunchy and chewy sweet treat that can be enjoyed on its own or as a garnish. Overall, ginger’s unique flavour makes it a versatile ingredient that can add a touch of spiciness and sweetness to any dish. I added 50 – 100g of fresh ginger stem. Peel the ginger and roughly chop soo it dehydrates faster.
When Africans say ‘Onions‘, they usually mean ‘Red Onions‘. Red onion is a popular ingredient in many African dishes, where it is used to add depth and flavour to savoury dishes. It is often used in spicy stews and soups, adding a sweet and pungent flavour to balance out the heat of other spices. Red onions are also a popular ingredient in traditional African condiments such as chutneys and relishes, where they add a sweet and tangy flavour to balance out the heat and sourness of other ingredients. They are also used as a base for many African sauces, such as the spicy tomato sauce commonly served with grilled meats. The delicate, yet distinctive flavour of red onion is an essential component in many African dishes, making it a staple in African kitchens. You will need at least four red onions. The base of the spice is the red onions,
Dehydrate Chopped Spices
Tomatoes play a significant role in African cooking, adding a sweet and tangy flavour to many dishes. They are used in a variety of dishes, from stews and sauces to salads and salsas. In West African cuisine, tomatoes are used in stews and sauces, such as the popular dish, jollof rice, where they are combined with spices and other ingredients to create a rich and flavorful base. In the north of Africa, tomatoes are often used in salads, such as the famous Egyptian dish, tomato and onion salad, where they are sliced and combined with diced onions and spices. Tomatoes are also a staple in South African cuisine, where they are used to create a spicy tomato relish called Chakalaka. Overall, tomatoes are a versatile ingredient in African cooking, adding depth, sweetness and tanginess to many dishes.
Spring onions, also known as scallions, have a unique flavour that sets them apart from other types of onions. They have a mild and sweet taste, with a slightly pungent edge that lingers on the tongue. They are a staple in many Asian dishes and add a touch of zesty freshness to salads, soups, stir-fries and sauces. Unlike traditional onions, spring onions have a tender, crisp texture that makes them a great addition to raw dishes. They are low in calories and high in vitamins, making them a nutritious and delicious ingredient. Whether they are thinly sliced or chopped and added to a dish, spring onions add a burst of flavour that brightens any meal.
Leeks have a delicate and sweet flavor, reminiscent of onions but with a milder, sweeter taste. They are an essential ingredient in many classic dishes, like soup, stew and pie. Leeks can be cooked in a variety of ways, from sautéing to boiling, and always impart a lovely, subtle sweetness to the dish. They are an excellent source of fiber, vitamin C, and antioxidants. The white part of the leek is the most flavorful, and the green part is best for adding a pop of color to dishes. Leeks are a versatile vegetable, used in both sweet and savory dishes, and their flavor adds depth and complexity to any dish they are added to.
Parsley has a bright and fresh taste, with hints of bitterness and a slight peppery flavor. It is a versatile herb that is often used as a garnish or added to dishes for a pop of color and flavor. Parsley can be added to soups, stews, sauces, and marinades to enhance the flavor profile. It is also commonly used in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine. The herb is a great source of vitamin C and iron, making it a nutritious addition to any dish. It is important to chop the parsley finely to release its full flavor, and it is best added towards the end of cooking to preserve its delicate taste.
Scotch bonnet is a type of chili pepper commonly used in African cuisine. It is known for its intense heat and unique flavour. The heat level of a scotch bonnet can range from extremely hot to fiery, with a heat index that is comparable to that of a habanero pepper. The flavour of scotch bonnet is described as being sweet and fruity, with a hint of smokiness and a distinct earthiness. It is most commonly used in dishes such as curries, soups, sauces, stews and marinades, where it adds an extra layer of flavour and heat. The scotch bonnet adds a bold and spicy kick that is loved by many.
🥣 How to make a Monosodium Glutamate (MSG Alternative) Spice
You can use a dehydrator or a baking tray for this recipe. If you are using an oven, to dry out the ingredients, be careful not to get them burnt. You want them dry not baked, cooked or burnt. Use a very low heat of between 100C – 120C for about 5 – 8 hours. This spice blend is the perfect MSG Alternative and is also slat free.
The Wondrous Onion Chilli Spice
- 2 Large Red Onions
- 6 Large Garlic Cloves
- 3 Large Scotch Bonnets
- 60 Grams Ginger Stem
- 2 Large Tomotoes
- 0.5 Grams Parsley
- 2 Large Leeks
- 3 Medium Spring onions
- Roughly Chop all ingredients. Cut the tomatoes and onions flat-side down.
- Layer them in a dehydrator. If you do not have a dehydrator, use a baking tray.
- If you are using a dehydrator, dehydrate the ingredients for 6 – 20 hours until perfectly dry.
- If you are using a baking oven and tray, bake at low heat (150C) for 1-4 hours.
- You should be able to break all ingredients by crumbling them with your fingers.
- Put them in batches in your spice blender transferring each blend into a small bowl. You cannot fit everything into the spice blender at once, so you have to do it in batches.
- When you are done blending all batches, the new powdered form should be able to fit into the spice blender. Blend them together to combine all the ingredients.
- Transfer into an airtight container and store.