Showing posts with label shahi jeera. Show all posts
Showing posts with label shahi jeera. Show all posts

Oct 20, 2016

Doon Chetin (Kashmiri Walnut Chutney)

Doon Chetin Kashmiri Walnut Chutney recipe

In Kashmiri, doon means walnut and chetin means chutney. Kashmiri walnuts are famous for their superb quality and rich flavor. This authentic recipe blends traditional spices of Kashmiri cuisine with walnuts into a creamy and piquant chutney. Serve with kebabs, curry, tandoori, or any rice based meal as a tasty and nutritious accompaniment.

Doon Chetin Kashmiri Walnut Chutney recipe

My Kashmiri husband is a very good cook when it comes to Kashmiri cuisine but not the best teacher. Writing down recipes is not a Desi tradition. So when I ask him how to make something his usual reply is a series of vague comments recommending a little of this, a little of that, and often leaving out important bits. Watching my husband and mother-in-law cook is like that too, they wander about the kitchen repeatedly adding a little of this or that spice, tasting, then adding a little bit of something else, tasting again, then maybe a bit more of whatever they added initially, and so on. UGH. I learned to make this watching one of my sister-in-laws in Srinagar using a mortar and pestle as pictured below. 

This is Bibi's big ol' Kashmiri mortar and pestle. The mortar is made out of Himalayan granite and weighs a good 10lbs/5kgs. That pestle is made of lathe-turned Kashmiri walnut wood. It works a treat. You sort of kneel on the floor with your knees bracing the heavy mortar to keep it from rocking while you pound away. The extremely lightweight but rock-hard walnut wood pestle is easy to use and effective. It took my sister-in-law about 45 minutes of pounding to render a cup of chutney the traditional way with this mortar and pestle. Do you think Bibi's going to do that? NAH. I ran this recipe through the marvelous modern mixie and had it done in under 5 minutes! To get about the same texture with a few coarse bits as you would using a mortar and pestle just pulse the mixie for 2-3 minutes.

When I first heard what was in this chutney my reaction was, "Raw walnuts, yogurt, onion, and spices in a chutney? That couldn't possibly taste good." But I was wrong! It tastes rich, creamy, and refreshing with a delicious hint of savory spices, onion, chilis, and mint. A great way to get healthy omega-3 fatty acids into your diet and a wonderful pairing with spicy meats and curries.

1/2 C walnuts, coarsely chopped
1 TBS onion, chopped roughly
1 TBS dry mint/pudina (or 2 TBS fresh mint/pudina or cilantro/dhania)
1/2 tsp Kashmiri mirch
1-2 green chilis/hari mirch
1 tsp shahi jeera/black cumin seeds (or 1/2 tsp cumin seeds/jeera)
1 tsp salt
1/4 C yogurt/dahi
Here's what to do:
1) Blend or grind all ingredients to a smooth emulsion in mixie, blender, food processor, or mortar and pestle. You may need to pulse the mixie, blender, food processor if you prefer the traditional coarser texture.

2)  Salt to taste and keep in refrigerator in airtight container until ready to serve for up to four days.

Helpful Hints:
If you fear your mixie, blender, or food processor is not powerful enough to grind walnuts you might have to grind them to powder in an electric spice grinder or mortar and pestle first. After grinding the walnuts to powder then blend them until smooth in your mixie, blender, or food processor.

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.

Jan 24, 2016

Ingredients: Shahi Jeera, Black Cumin, Himali Jeera, Koshur Zur. Kala Jeera, Kashmiri Jeera, Kala Zeera

shahi jeera black cumin seeds fruits
Shahi jeera/black cumin 

This is the uncommon spice variously called shahi jeera, black cumin, Kashmiri jeera, Himali jeera, Koshur zur, or kala jeeraShahi means royal or fit for a king. Shah is a word of Persian derivative and means high king. If you add an "i" to the end of any Hindi or Urdu noun it becomes an adjective. Jeera (or zeera in Urdu) means cumin and is a word of Persian origin meaning fragrant or of pleasant aroma. So "shahi jeera" translates to "royal cumin."

Bunium persicum
The shahi jeera or black cumin plant (Bunium persicum) is native to northern India and Central Asia. It prefers the dry, scrubby slopes of the Himalayas or the mountains of Central Asia. It is a perennial plant that grows to two feet in height. What looks like seeds are actually the tiny fruits of Bunium persicum. The roots are also cooked and eaten eaten in Kashmir and have the taste of sweet chestnuts.

Flowers of Bunium persicum
(The shahi jeera plant)
The flavor of shahi jeera/black cumin seeds is very similar to the earthy notes of cumin but somewhat milder. It also has a bit of herbaceous note and a mildly astringent tang. When cooked the flavor becomes slightly nutty and will not overpower a dish with earthiness as cumin can do.

Pahalgam Valley, Kashmir
Kashmir is the only region in India where shahi jeera/black cumin is cultivated. The Mughals summered in the high valleys of Kashmir to escape the miserable heat of the monsoon season on the Indian plains. The seeds of shahi jeera/black cumin were quite popular with the Mughals and featured in many dishes of the royal court.

Caraway seeds and nigella seeds are NOT the same as shahi jeera/black cumin. I see a lot of confusion on Indian cooking blogs and in Indian cookbooks about the spice shahi jeera. Indian cooking blogs and cookbooks often incorrectly suggest caraway seeds as a substitute for  shahi jeera. I've seen nigella seeds often mislabeled or being sold as shahi jeera in India a lot too. They are somewhat similar in appearance, but all are from different plants and have completely different flavors.

Shahi jeera/black cumin close up for comparison-

 shahi jeera, black cumin, Kashmiri jeera, Himali jeera, Koshur zur, or kala jeera.
Shahi Jeera/Black cumin
Caraway seeds are from the plant Carum carvi and have an aromatic flavor that's a combination of mild licorice-y anise with a dash of dill and carrot. Caraway seeds are native to Europe and are responsible for the unique flavor in rye bread. I just bought a loaf of rye bread from the local German bakery and it reeks of shahi jeera not caraway. YUK.

These are caraway seeds.

Nigella seeds/kalonji are from the plant Nigella sativa. Often confusingly called black cumin or onion seeds these matte black pyramidal shaped seeds taste like oregano.

These are nigella or kalonji seeds.

Just for comparison here are some ordinary cumin/jeera seeds which are also called "white cumin" -

Cumin/jeera seeds

Helpful hints:
A good substitute for shahi jeera just would be cumin in a lesser amount. Cumin is closest in flavor to shahi jeera but much stronger. Do NOT use caraway seeds or nigella/kalonji as they have entirely different flavor.

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