Showing posts with label nigella. Show all posts
Showing posts with label nigella. 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.

May 23, 2016

Ingredient of the Week: Kalonji, Mongrelo, Nigella, Onion Seeds



nigella, kalonji, onion seeds, charnushka, black seeds, Schwarzkummel, krishnajiraka, and mungrelo

These triangulate black matte seeds are the spice commonly referred to as nigella, kalonji, onion seeds, charnushka, black seeds, Schwarzkummel, krishnajiraka, and mungrelo. Used since antiquity for both medicinal and culinary purposes this spice was found in Tutankhamen's tomb and claimed by the prophet Mohammed (PBUH) to "cure anything bit death."



Although they resemble onion seeds and are often mistakenly called as such this spice is actually the seeds of Nigella sativa, an annual flowering plant of the Ranunculacae family. Gardeners will recognize this familiar flower as a paler relative of the old fashioned annual "love in a mist" or Nigella damascena. Same genus but different species. Nigella sativa appears to be native to Turkey, Iraq, and Syria. Today it is cultivated as a spice in India and the Middle East.
The dried fruits or capsules of the Nigella sativa plant are composed of three to seven united follicles which contain the numerous seeds used as a spice. The seeds contain high levels of conjugated linoleic acid, thymoquinone, nigellone (dithymoquinone), melanthin, nigilline, and trans-anethole.


What does it taste like? I've heard the flavor described variously as peppery, smoky,  earthy like cumin, burnt onions, slightly bitter, and similar to thyme or oregano. Unless crushed, ground, or bruised with mortar and pestle the seeds have very little aroma. To me, when the seeds are raw and crushed they have a slightly astringent flavor and are reminiscent of oregano. When dry roasted or fried the seeds smell and taste just like dried oregano with a mild bitterness.

Panch Phoron

How is kalonji or nigella used? Primarily it is used whole as an accent spice atop flatbreads such as naan, in the South Asian oil preserved pickles called achari, in curries, or in the famous "panch phoron" spice mix. Panch phoron literally means "five spices" and contains equal amounts of kalonji/nigella seed, fenugreek seed, cumin seed, black mustard seed, and fennel seed. This spice mix is traditional in the cuisines of Bengal, Southern Nepal, and Eastern India. It is always used whole, never ground, and tempered in ghee or mustard oil before using in dals, meat or vegetable curries, in pickles or with fish.

Nigella or Kalonji
Shahi Jeera or Black Cumin 
Onion seeds (from onions)
Nigella or kalonji seeds are often mistakenly called or confused with black cumin, shahi jeera, and onion seeds. Here are photos of all three seeds for comparison. None of them are similar in flavor, I suppose onion seeds do look a bit like nigella/kalonji but they are much smaller.

Calmly currying on, 
Bibi
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