Showing posts with label cumin. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cumin. Show all posts

Apr 19, 2017

Panch Phoron (Bengali Five Spice)

panch phoron, panch puran, panch phutana,  panch phoran,  panch pora, fennel, fenugreek, cumin, radhuni, ajmod, mustard, nigella, kalonji, bengal, bengali, indian, five spice, bengali five spice,

Panch Phoron is a fragrant blend of five spices and a signature flavor of traditional Bengali cuisine. Panch means five and phoron means spices or flavors. What makes this spice mix unusual is that it's typically used in its whole form rather than ground or powdered. Panch phoron can be used with any vegetable or lentil dish and is particularly good with seafood.

panch phoron, panch puran, panch phutana,  panch phoran,  panch pora, fennel, fenugreek, cumin, radhuni, ajmod, mustard, nigella, kalonji, bengal, bengali, indian, five spice, bengali five spice,

The five spices that traditionally comprise panch phoron are: fenugreek seed, nigella seed,  radhuni seed, fennel seed, and cumin seed. All the spices have their own unique notes: the pungent maple-like flavor of fenugreek seed, the celery-like greeness of radhuni seed, the slightly bitter oregano-like nigella seed, the anisic punch of fennel seed, and the peppery warmth of cumin seed. So simple yet such depth of flavor!
Ajwain or Carom seeds
Radhuni or wild celery seeds
Some variations may substitute anise for the fennel, ajwain for the radhuni, and black cumin for nigella. Generally the ingredients are added in equal proportions, though this can vary according to taste. To make panch phoron you simply mix equal amounts of all the spices together and store it in an airtight container.

panch phoron, panch puran, panch phutana,  panch phoran,  panch pora, fennel, fenugreek, cumin, radhuni, ajmod, mustard, nigella, kalonji, bengal, bengali, indian, five spice, bengali five spice,

In the tradition of Bengali cuisine, one usually fries the panch phoron first in cooking oil or ghee. This causes the whole spices to start popping and become wonderfully fragrant. This technique is called baghaar or bagar in Bengali, and chaunk in Hindi. After this tempering, other ingredients are added to the fried spices to be coated or infused with the mixture. Dry roasted panch phoron is sometimes ground to make a powder that is sprinkled on chutneys. Although panch phoran is utilized in other parts of northern and eastern India, it's almost impossible to imagine Bengali food without it!

panch phoron, panch puran, panch phutana,  panch phoran,  panch pora, fennel, fenugreek, cumin, radhuni, ajmod, mustard, nigella, kalonji, bengal, bengali, indian, five spice, bengali five spice,

Panch phoron is available commercially under several brand names. You may also see this blend called panch puran, panch phutana,  panch phoran or panch pora. If you'd like to make it yourself here's the recipe:

Ingredients:
1 TBS nigella/kalonji seeds
1 TBS cumin/jeera seeds
1 TBS mustard seeds (or radhuni/wild celery seeds)*
1 TBS fennel/saunf seeds
1 TBS fenugreek/methi seeds

Here's what to do:
1) Combine all the ingredients in an airtight light-proof container.

2) Shake well to mix ingredients. Store sealed away from heat or direct light.

Helpful Hints:
I'm using mustard seeds in place of the traditional radhuni/wild celery seeds. You could also use ajwain for the Nepali version of panch phoron or just the plain celery seeds you can find in western markets.

Mar 8, 2017

Kashmiri Onion Chutney (Ganda Chetin)

kashmiri onion chutney, gand chetin, ganda, chetin, kashmiri, relish, recipe, condiment, chutney, onion, mirch, mint, shai jeera, cumin,

In Kashmiri, ganda means onion and chetin means chutney. This authentic recipe is a savory relish that often accompanies meals and street foods like kebabs in Kashmir. A simple pickling process and marination with traditional herbs and spices brings out the piquant and zesty flavors typical of Kashmiri cuisine.

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This is a favorite chutney or chetin that regularly graces our family dinner table. It's so easy to make and we most always have all the ingredients necessary on hand. We usually enjoy it as a condiment alongside our rice based lunches and dinners. Be forewarned, this chutney is quite fiery and a bit tart so it is definitely not for the timid of palate!

kashmiri onion chutney, gand chetin, ganda, chetin, kashmiri, relish, recipe, condiment, chutney, onion, mirch, mint, shai jeera, cumin,

The red chili powder or Kashmiri mirch, dried mint, and shahi jeera or black cumin are all hallmark flavors of Kashmiri cuisine. The locally grown and brilliant red Kashmiri mirch chili powder is what gives this condiment its color and rich flavor. If you don't have Kashmiri mirch a mix of half paprika and half cayenne powder makes a good substitute. Dried mint is very much a signature taste in Kashmiri dishes but fresh mint is often used in a lesser amount when available. Shahi jeera or black cumin is a spice native to Kashmir with a uniquely herbaceous and mild cumin-like flavor. A reasonable substitute for shahi jeera or black cumin is a lesser amount of regular cumin. Anyway you choose to make this recipe, if you love hot and spicy foods you'll love this!

Ingredients:
2 C onions, thinly sliced into half moons
2 tsp salt
3 TBS vinegar or lime/nimbu juice
2 tsp Kashmiri mirch (or 1 tsp paprika plus 1 tsp cayenne powder)
2-3 green chilis/hari mirch, chopped finely
3 TBS cilantro/dhania leaves, chopped finely
1 TBS dry mint/pudina or 2 tsp fresh mint/pudina
1 tsp black cumin/shahi jeera (or 1/4 tsp cumin/jeera)

Here's what to do:
1) Mix together sliced onions with 2 teaspoons salt and place in sieve or colander over plate. Allow mixture to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. Some liquid may or may not come out of the onions.

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2) After 20 minutes transfer salted onions to a plastic, glass, or stainless steel container that can be sealed airtight. Mix salted onions with vinegar or lime juice, Kashmiri mirch, chopped green chilis, chopped cilantro, dry mint, and shahi jeera.

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3) Seal container with mixture airtight and place in refrigerator for at least 4 hours or overnight. Stir well before serving as a condiment alongside savory dishes. Makes a great sandwich or salad topping as well as a relish with kebabs. Keeps for about 3 days in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Helpful hints:
If the chutney is just way more heat than you can handle try adding a couple of tablespoons of yogurt to it to cool it off.

Feb 27, 2017

Ingredients: Cumin, Jeera, Zeera, Zira, Jira ko Geda, Zyur, Safed Jeera, Jeeragam, Jikaka

cumin, india, Indian, ingredients, jeera, jirako geda, safed jeera, spice, zeera, zira,

Cumin is one of those spices that is absolutely essential in stocking any spice cupboard. It's warm, earthy, and smoky flavor works especially well in combination with chilis, cinnamon, and coriander. Cumin is native to southwest Asia and has made its way into cuisines around the world through the spice trade. It's a hallmark flavor in North African, Indian, Latin American, Spanish, Portuguese, and Middle Eastern cuisines.

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Cumin (Cuminum cyminum) was originally cultivated in the Mediterranean region and is a member of the parsley family. It is an annual herbaceous plant with slender, branched stems that grows to 8–12 inches tall. It's tiny white or pink flowers are borne in small compound umbels. The seeds come in paired or separate carpels and are 1/8-1/4 inches long bearing a striped pattern of nine ridges. The seeds do greatly resemble caraway seeds, but are lighter in color and have minute bristles barely visible to the naked eye.

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Cumin is a drought-tolerant, tropical, or subtropical crop with a growth season of 100 to 120 days. The main producer and consumer of cumin is India. Cumin is sown in India from October until the beginning of December, and harvesting by hand starts in February. Sandy, loamy soils with good aeration, proper drainage, slightly alkaline pH, and high oxygen availability are necessary for the optimal growth of cumin. The plant tends to droop under its own weight and so is planted closely together for support.

cumin, india, Indian, ingredients, jeera, jirako geda, safed jeera, spice, zeera, zira,
Field of cumin in the Indian state of Gujarat
The main producer and consumer of cumin is India. Cumin is sown in India from October until the beginning of December and harvesting by hand starts in February. India produces 70% of the world supply of cumin and consumes 90% of that. That means that India consumes 63% of the world's cumin! In total, around 300,000 tons of cumin per year are produced worldwide.

cumin, india, Indian, ingredients, jeera, jirako geda, safed jeera, spice, zeera, zira,
Workers bagging cumin at the wholesale spice market in Delhi
Cumin is used predominantly in cuisines where highly spiced foods are preferred. In the Middle East it is a familiar spice used in fish dishes, grilled meats, stews, falafel, couscous, and the spice mix baharat. In Europe, cumin flavors Portuguese and Spanish sausages as well as Dutch Leyden cheese. Cumin is an essential spice in just about every savory Mexican dish from chile con carne to enchiladas

Leyden cheese from the Netherlands flavored with cumin seeds
Indian cooking utilizes many spice mixtures which contain cumin. North Indian cooking features a spice mixture called garam masala meaning "hot spices." Garam masalas vary in composition by regional preferences but most often combine earthy spices like cumin and fenugreek with aromatic spices like green cardamom and cloves. In southern India there is sambar podi, a mix of mostly cumin, coriander, roasted lentils, and aromatics used to flavor vegetarian dishes. In Southern Nepal, Bengal, Bangladesh and parts of North East India, there is a spice mix called panch phoron meaning "five spices" which consists of cumin seeds, black mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds, fennel seeds, and nigella seeds. Panch phoron is never ground and is used to flavor vegetable, fish, and meat dishes of those regions. 

cumin, india, Indian, ingredients, jeera, jirako geda, safed jeera, spice, zeera, zira,
Spice shop in Varanasi
Dry roasted cumin seeds are also used in refreshing drinks and cooling condiments in India. Jaljeera is a popular summer drink in India usually made with a blend of cumin, lime juice, mint, ginger, black pepper, and black salt. Jaljeera is purported to stimulate appetite and aid digestion and commercial mixes are widely available. A salted lassi is a traditional savory drink of chilled water blended with yogurt and oftentimes flavored with toasted cumin seeds. A raita is a dip made of yogurt with toasted cumin seeds and raw or cooked vegetables often served with spicy foods for it's cooling effect on the palate.

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The earthy, warm, and smoky flavor of cumin is best showcased when used with restraint and cooked or dry roasted. Cumin is one of those spices that can quickly overpower an entire dish. Some hearty meat dishes can accommodate a full tablespoon but usually no more than a teaspoon is required for legumes and vegetables. Frying or dry roasting cumin mellows it's harsh raw flavor to a pleasant nutty earthiness. Ground cumin can­ not be toasted as it would char quickly. However, dry roasted cumin can be ground and used as a sea­soning and added just before serving. Almost every North Indian curry starts with spices being fried in ghee or oil. Ground cumin can be used but it must be added after the onions have been fried to prevent burning. Burnt cumin in ground or seed form has an unpleasant bitter flavor. There really isn't anything you can do to rescue a dish tainted with the bitterness of burnt cumin but to toss it and start over. 

cumin, india, Indian, ingredients, jeera, jirako geda, safed jeera, spice, zeera, zira,
Cumin or Safed Jeera seeds
Caraway seeds
An interesting aside:
I think I've found out why cumin, caraway, and black cumin are so often confused for each other.  The root of the English word cumin is from the Latin cuminum which is ultimately derived from Semitic origins. But many other European languages do not distinguish clearly between the cumin and caraway. In German the word for caraway is Kümmel while the name for cumin is Kreuzkümmel (literally "cross-caraway). This indicates that European cooks saw cumin as an exotic spice comparable to the native caraway. (Caraway's carrot-y dill flavor tastes nothing like cumin's earthy warmth to me but the plant and seeds do look similar.) Similarly in Swedish and Danish, caraway is kummin, while cumin is spiskummin. In Romanian cumin is called chimion turcesc or "Turkish caraway." In Hungarian cumin is egyiptomi kömény or "Egyptian caraway." Like most Mediterranean spices cumin seems to have been introduced to northern and eastern Europe around the 9th century by Charlemagne's Capitulare. The Capitulare de villis vel curtis imperii Caroli Magni was a complete list of administrative, legal, and agricultural rules for the new Frankish empire. Towards the end of the document is a complete list of culinary and medicinal herbs to be grown in imperial gardens. Apparently northern and eastern Europe never developed much of a taste for cumin yet it retained it's identity as an exotic variant of caraway. This probably explains why shahi jeera/black cumin is often confused with caraway also.

Black Cumin or Shahi Jeera seeds
Jeera is the Hindi word for cumin and is derived from the Sanskrit root jri meaning to digest. Related words for cumin are today found from the Caucasus to central and southeast Asia: Urdu = zeera, Farsi = zirah, Georgian = dzira, and Burmese = ziyah. In Hindi cumin is sometimes called safed jeera (literally white cumin)  in order to differentiate it from black cumin or shahi jeera.

Sep 21, 2016

Bisbas Khudra (Yemeni Bell Pepper Chutney)

Bisbas Khudra  Yemeni Bell Pepper Chutney capsicum chili bell pepper cumin yemen easy recipe simple coriander

This zingy hot sauce recipe hails from Yemen. Khudra means green and bisbas means something spicy. Vibrant with the piquant flavors of peppers, cumin, coriander and garlic this chutney-like recipe packs a punch! Whip this delicious vegan dip up in minutes to accompany everything from tandoori to falafels.


A Yemeni friend I've known for years gave me this recipe a while back. Traditionally, it is made with a mortar and pestle but you know Bibi's going to run it through the mixie. I served it on Eid with the mutton and chicken kebabs we made on the barbecue and it was a hit! It works just as well as a vegan chutney with rice, rotis, and dal too. It's a great way to use up all those capsicum (bell peppers) that are in abundance this time of year in every market or garden.

Ingredients:
2 large bell peppers/capsicum, cleaned of seeds and pith and chopped roughly
2 to 3 hot green chilis/hari mirch
2 to 3 cloves of garlic/lahsun
1 to 2 dried red chilis, stems removed (or 1/2 tsp Kashmiri mirch or cayenne powder)
1/2 tsp cumin/jeera seeds
1 tsp ground coriander/dhania seeds
2 TBS olive oil or oil of choice
1 tsp salt

Here's what to do:
1) Blend or grind all ingredients to a smooth emulsion in mixie, blender, food processor, or mortar and pestle. Salt to taste and keep in refrigerator in airtight container until ready to serve.

Bisbas Khudra  Yemeni Bell Pepper Chutney capsicum chili bell pepper cumin yemen easy recipe simple coriander


Bisbas Khudra  Yemeni Bell Pepper Chutney capsicum chili bell pepper cumin yemen easy recipe simple coriander

Helpful Hints:
If you find you've made this recipe too hot for your liking just stir in a few tablespoonfuls of yogurt to bring the heat down.

Jan 3, 2016

Ingredient of the Week: Kitchen King

Darned good stuff!
Oh, stop.
Don't judge until you've tried these readymade spice mixes.
Don't start with the *"Chi, chi, Bibi's not being authentic, or Desi, or home style," or whatever disdainful & derogatory notions you may have about using prepared spice mixes. Readymade masalas are one of the newer convenience products available for the burgeoning Desi middle class. As more & more women enter the work force in Desi-dom or simply wish to spend less time in the kitchen for whatever reason, products like this are becoming increasingly popular. I've even seen kilo sized boxes of these mixes in the kitchens of 5 star hotels and popular restaurants in India so I know that even the "pros" use these. They are great time and money savers when you think of all the different spices you'd have to purchase, store, measure, & grind for use in each dish. Kitchen King is a blend of cumin, turmeric, Kashmiri mirch,  garlic, red chili, coriander, green cardamom, brown cardamom, dry ginger, black pepper, cloves, fenugreek, poppy seeds, mace, nutmeg, star anise, fennel, long pepper, and cassia.

Foil wrapped for freshness!
Guaranteed to delight your palate with taste & aroma.
(It says so on the box!)
I have to say, they are generally excellent quality too. The box boasts that the fresh spices are hand picked and ground using "Low Temperature Grinding technology." The mixes are foil wrapped inside for freshness, although I'd recommend decanting them into an airtight glass container once opened for storage. You could use a plastic container, but be forewarned that plastic container will reek of Kitchen King forever after.

I'd recommend storing in an airtight glass container.
This old pickle jar works well.
 I'd also recommend buying them in boxes no larger than 100g to 200g depending on usage as they'll usually remain fresh for only about a month after opening.





Kitchen King is one of my favorites. I always have a box around. My favorite brand is "Catch," although "MDH" and "Everest" are quite good also. I'm guessing it's called Kitchen King due to its versatility in dishes. It's a quick and easy way to make tasty vegetarian dishes such as mattar paneer (peas & cheese) or curried peas and mushrooms. 

Helpful Hints:

A good substitute for Kitchen King spice mix is-  1/2tsp cayenne + 1/2tsp paprika + 1tsp cumin + 1tsp coriander + + 1/2 tsp fennel + 1/4tsp ground fenugreek +1/4tsp mace + 1/8tsp nutmeg 

*"Chi, chi," is roughly translated as "For shame," in Desi-Land. It is often accompanied by an imperiously & emphatically extended index finger being jabbed perilously in proximity of whomever is being blamed or shamed's face. 

Jan 1, 2016

Garam Masala

Garam masala is a blend of aromatic spices commonly used in South Asian cooking. Many regions of the Asian Subcontinent have their own unique blends of garam masala. Garam in this context means 'warm' or 'heating' to the body in the Ayurvedic sense. Masala simply means spices. Garam masala can also be varied to suit personal taste.  Depending on usage garam masala may be dry roasted or left raw. 


Some regional cuisines of South Asia traditionally stir 1/2 teaspoonful of garam masala into a dish just before serving, this requires the garam masala to be dry roasted before use. Other cuisines of the Subcontinent use garam masala during cooking so the spice mix is left raw. I prefer not to dry roast my garam masala as I use it during cooking. Dry roasted spices also tend to not store well & develop an 'off' flavor if not used quickly. (I'll include techniques to dry roast spices if you wish to do so though.) 

Ingredients:
1 TBS green cardamoms/elaichi
7 brown cardamoms/kali elaichi
4 tsp cloves/laung
4 tsp cumin seeds/jeera
1&1/2 TBS black peppercorns/kali mirch
4 one & half inch pieces of cassia bark/dalchini (or cinnamon sticks)
3 mace jackets/javatri (or 1/2 tsp grated nutmeg or allspice)

Here's what to do:
For raw/unroasted garam masala- 
Coarsely grind all spices until roughly the texture of coffee grounds. Traditionally a mortar & pestle or "sil batta" was used to get this texture. Garam masala is not supposed to be like that finely ground powdery stuff you see sold at stores. To get the traditional 'coffee grounds' texture we're looking for use the 'pulse' button on your mixie, food processor, or coffee grinder until you get the desired results. If you are using a coffee grinder or small mixie jar you might want to grind each spice separately in batches to get a consistent texture. Breaking the cassia bark (or cinnamon sticks) into smaller pieces before grinding helps also. Store in an airtight container out of sunlight.

Two methods to dry roast garam masala-

Traditional- 
1) Heat a heavy bottomed frying pan or tawa for 7-10 minutes.
2) Dry roast spices one at a time in batches, or toss all spices in & stir frequently until spices give off a fragrant aroma. Do not dry roast mace, nutmeg or allspice.
3) Allow to cool completely. Grind coarsely (including mace, nutmeg, or allspice) using pulse button in mixie, food processor, or coffee grinder.  Store in an airtight container out of sunlight.
(The problem with this traditional method is that the temperature isn't really even over a tawa on a gas flame & some spices may scorch while others remain unroasted.  Cumin usually roasts faster than the other spices & when burned has an unpleasant bitter flavor.  Roasting spices separately reduces the risk of scorching but is tedious. Why do South Asians still do use traditional tawa method? Because most South Asians do not have any sort of oven in their homes.)

Fast & easy oven method-
1) Preheat oven to 220F/100C.
2) Spread all spices (except mace, nutmeg or allspice) over 13 inch by 9 inch baking pan or cookie sheet. Bake spices for 10 minutes.
3) Allow to cool completely & grind coarsely (including mace, nutmeg, or allspice) using pulse button in mixie, food processor, or coffee grinder.  Store in an airtight container out of sunlight.


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