Showing posts with label fennel. Show all posts
Showing posts with label fennel. 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:

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.

Nov 4, 2016

Kashmiri Style Chicken Curry

Kashmiri Style Chicken Curry recipe curry indian authentic kashmir

From the beautiful vale of Kashmir comes this recipe for a brilliant red chicken curry. The warmth of traditional aromatic spices and crimson Kashmiri chilis are melded in a velvety yogurt based sauce. Crisply seared chicken is then simmered until meltingly tender in this richly aromatic sauce. The Kashmiris enjoy this dish garnished with dried mint or perhaps sultanas and cashews stirred in on special occasions.

Kashmiri Style Chicken Curry recipe curry indian authentic kashmir

This is our everyday chicken curry recipe. No, it not sweet, nor does it have any sugar in it, or coconut, or pineapple, or dried apricots like most of the abominations called Kashmiri chicken you'll find in restaurants. As is the traditional Kashmiri manner the chicken is first browned in salted oil and set aside. Browning the chicken in salted oil gives it a bit of a crispy salt crust as well as leaving delicious drippings for making the sauce. The sauce is quite soupy as it is served with rice like most Kashmiri dishes. The flavor is more aromatic than spicy hot with a bit of a tang from the yogurt. If you want to make it really fancy you can toss a handful of cashews or sultanas in about ten minutes before serving.

1kg/2lbs chicken, skinless and cut into 8 pieces with bone in
3 TBS cooking oil or ghee
2 onions, sliced thinly into half moons
1 TBS garlic/lahsun paste
1 TBS ginger/adrak paste
7 green cardamoms/elaichi, bruised with mortar and pestle
5 cloves/laung
2 inch piece of cassia bark/dalchini (or cinnamon stick)
10 black peppercorns/kali mirch, coarsely ground
1 tsp cumin/jeera seeds
2 tomatoes, diced finely or pureed
2 C water or stock
2 TBS sultanas (optional)
2 TBS cashews (optional)
1 TBS dried mint/pudina (optional for garnish)
Mix until smooth for sauce-
1 C yogurt/dahi
1/2 tsp flour/maida (this will keep the yogurt from splitting)
1 TBS Kashmiri mirch (or 1&1/2 tsp paprika plus 1&1/2 tsp cayenne powder)
2 tsp ground fennel/saunf
2 tsp ground coriander/dhania
1 tsp dry ginger/soonth
1/4 tsp turmeric/haldi

Here's what to do:
1) Heat cooking oil or ghee with 1 teaspoonful salt in kadhai or deep heavy bottomed skillet for 7 minutes. While oil is heating mix yogurt together with spices and flour as listed for gravy until smooth and set aside. Fry chicken pieces in hot oil or ghee for about 3 minutes on each side or until browned. Set fried chicken pieces aside on a plate.

2) In same pan fry sliced onions until beginning to brown. Add garlic paste, ginger paste, green cardamoms, cloves, cassia bark, black peppercorns, and cumin seeds. Fry for about 2 minutes or until raw smell is gone from garlic.

3) Add finely diced tomatoes and fry for about 2 minutes. Remove pan from heat and add yogurt mixed with flour and spices to fried tomato and onion mixture. Stir well and return pan to heat. Bring mixture to a simmer. Allow mixture to simmer for 5 minutes. If mixture begins to scorch or stick reduce heat, add 1/4 cup water and stir well.

4) After 5 minutes return the fried chicken pieces to the pan with the onion and spice mixture. Stir well. Add 2 cups water or stock to the spice and chicken mixture and bring to a simmer. Cover pan and allow to simmer for 15 minutes or until chicken pieces are cooked through and oil separates from the sauce. (If using sultanas or cashews stir them in after the chicken has simmered for about ten minutes.) Salt to taste and garnish with dried mint if desired.

Helpful Hints:
I do find that sometimes chicken can get a bit dry when cooked this way. To prevent that I usually soak the skinless chicken in a brine solution of 3 tablespoons salt to one liter/four cups water for at least 3 hours or preferably overnight in the refrigerator. Before frying rinse the chicken pieces well  and dispose of the brine solution. This really makes for tender, juicy chicken!

An illustration of market boats on Nallah Mar canal in Srinagar from Francis Younghusband's 1917 book Kashmir.

Aug 17, 2016

Kashmiri Garam Masala

Kashmiri Garam Masala Kashmiri Garam Masala shahi jeera indian spice mix authentic kashmir fennel

Every region of India has it's own blend of garam masala. The word garam means heating to the body in the Ayurvedic sense and masala means spices. The Kashmiri version of garam masala differs from other North Indian spice mixes in it's use of shahi jeera and fennel seeds.  Richly flavored and warmly aromatic and this recipe perfectly complements the savory dishes of Kashmir.

Kashmiri Garam Masala shahi jeera indian spice mix authentic kashmir fennel
Traditionally, about a half teaspoon of this spice mix is stirred into whatever savory Kashmiri dish you've made just before serving. If you wish to use this garam masala mix in this manner you must dry roast it. Unfortunately dry roasting spices causes them to go rancid sooner so either make this recipe in small batches or store it in an airtight container in the freezer. The mace and nutmeg do not require dry roasting so simply grind them in after roasting and cooling the other spices.

1 TBS black peppercorns/kali mirch
1 TBS cumin/jeera seeds
1 TBS shahi jeera/black cumin seeds
1 TBS fennel/saunf seeds
2 blades of mace/javatri
7  black cardamoms/kali elaichi
2 two inch pieces of cassia bark/dalchini, broken into smaller pieces
25 cloves/laung
2 blades of mace/javatri
1 tsp nutmeg/jaiphal, ground

Here's what to do:
1) Preheat oven to 220F/100C.
2) Spread all spices except for nutmeg and mace on baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes.
3) Remove baking sheet from oven and allow to cool.
4) When spices have cooled add nutmeg and mace to mixture. Place all spices in mixie, blender or food processor and pulse to grind spices coarsely. Store in an airtight container away from heat and light for up to one month.

Helpful hints:
You can use this as you would any garam masala mix in any recipe for a bit of Kashmiri flair.
If you plan on using this garam masala mix in a recipe where it is to be heated or fried you do not need to dry roast it.

Apr 3, 2016

Ingredient of the Week: Fennel, Saunf, or Badian

Fennel, saunf, badian, finocchio, fenouil, fenchel, hinojo, marathon, barisaunf, madhurika, adas, wooi heung, whatever you wish to call it here 'tis:

Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) is a hardy perennial herb belonging to the carrot, parsley, and celery family. It features feathery leaves, tiny yellow flowers, and glaucous green hollow stems. Fennel prefers sandy, well drained soils and a moderate climates as found in it's native habitat along the shores of the Mediterranean. Fennel is also considered an invasive pest in my native California and you will often see it growing wild along the sandy shoulders of highways and roads.

All parts of the fennel plant are edible, including the bulbous roots, strongly flavored leaves, and it's seed like fruits. The licorice-like flavor of flavor of fennel comes from the aromatic compound "anethole." Anethole is the same terpenoid responsible for the unique flavor of anise and star anise, hence the similar aroma and taste. Fennel tends to be a bit milder in licorice flavor than anise or star anise.

Many Desi cultures use fennel seeds in their cuisines. In the Kashmiri language fennel seeds are called "badian," and interestingly anise and star anise are called badian in Kashmiri too. "Saunf," "madhurika," and barisaunf are other names fennel seeds are called by in Desi-dom. Fennel seeds are a dominant flavor in many savory Kashmiri dishes, Gujarati cooking, and are one of the five spices in the classic spice mix called "panch phoran" used in Nepali, Bhojpuri, Maithili, and Bengali cuisines.

 Fennel seeds' warm, aromatic, licorice-y, and sweet notes are a great pairing with the gamy flavor of the mutton or goat so favored in Desi cuisines. Surprisingly to me fennel seeds also add an interesting punch to blander dishes such as dals too. The flavor of fennel seed tends to grow upon cooking, if not judiciously used fennel's bold flavor can overtake an entire dish.

"Mukwhas" is a breath freshener and digestive aid commonly served after meals in Desi countries. I'm sure any Westerners whom have ever been to an Indian restaurant will be familiar with it. Fennel seeds both dry roasted and with colorful sugar or silvered coatings are usually the main ingredient in all the various blends of mukwhas. Mukwhas is derived from the Hindi and Urdu words "mukh" meaning mouth and "vas" meaning smell.  Other mukwhas blends may also include rock sugar, date sugar, coconut shavings, sesame seeds, rose petals, tamarind leaves, cashews, salt, turmeric, coriander seeds, peanuts and cashews.

Helpful hints:
Dried fennel seeds are light green when fresh and slowly age to a dull grey.  For culinary usage always choose the greenest fennel seeds you can find for the best flavor.

An interesting aside:
I have been notified that I have been nominated for the "Best Food Blog"  AND "Best New Blog" awards on the  nepaliaustralian blog so get on over there and vote for my blog if you choose at:

Be sure to check out all the other amazing blogs in all the different categories and vote for all your favorites!!! Winners will be announced in May.
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