Cooking With Kurma

Kurma Dasa

Special Kitchen Ingredients

Cooking With Kurma > Ingredients > Spice Blends

Homemade Spice Blends (Masalas)Just some of the many spices in Kurma's cuisine

Ayurveda, India’s yoga science of healthy lifestyle, explains the preventative and curative properties of hundreds of herbs and spices. Used correctly, spices not only add a myriad wonderful flavours, but can also promote well-being and good health by allowing food to be digested more easily.

For instance, turmeric is a blood purifier, black pepper and chilies are digestive stimulants, and ginger is a respiratory tonic. Toasted cumin, fennel and mustard seeds help make foods lighter on the stomach, cinnamon aids in the absorption of nutrients, and fragrant cardamom added to hot milk helps neutralise its mucus-forming properties.As well as using spices individually, they can be combined in what is known as a masala.

A masala is a term referring to any number of spice, herb, or seasoning combinations, containing anything from two to twenty ingredients. Its contents, proportions and applications are limitless. For instance, garam masala is an aromatic blend of “warm” spices (garam means warm), and, unless otherwise specified, is added towards the end of cooking.

Some spices are used “raw” and others toasted. Spices can be successfully toasted in a heavy pan over low heat for 15 minutes, and stirred every 5 minutes, or toasted on a cookie sheet or baking tray in a pre-heated 90°C/195°F oven for about 30 minutes. Homemade spice blends can be ground to a powder in a spice mill or a coffee grinder, finely sieved, then stored well sealed away from light or heat. They’re great to have in the kitchen and can add fascinating depth to your cooking.

For an extensive list of CONDIMENT AND SPICE TERMINOLOGY in Hindi, Tamil and Kannada, click here.

Here’s some homemade spice blends.

Delhi-style Garam Masala
Preparation and cooking time: 15 minutes in a pan or 30 minutes in the oven
Makes: bit less than ½ cup

1½ tablespoons coriander seeds
2 tablespoons cumin seeds
1 tablespoon green cardamom pods
one 7.5cm (3-inch) cinnamon stick
2½ teaspoons whole cloves

Toast and grind all the spices as described above.

Punjabi-style Garam Masala
Preparation and cooking time: 15 minutes in a pan or 30 minutes in the oven
Makes: about 1 cup

2½ tablespoons cumin seeds
3 tablespoons coriander seeds
2½ tablespoons ajowan seeds 1½ tablespoons green cardamom pods
5 teaspoons black peppercorns
5 teaspoons whole cloves
one 10cm (4-inch) cinnamon stick
1 bay leaf
3 teaspoons ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground ginger

Toast and grind the first eight ingredients as described above.

Combine with the last two ingredients.

North African Spice Blend (Ras el Hanout)
Preparation and cooking time: 15 minutes in a pan or 30 minutes in the oven
Makes: about ¾ cup

1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon allspice berries
2 teaspoons green cardamom pods
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
2 tablespoons black peppercorns Two 10cm (4-inch) cinnamon sticks
2 teaspoons whole cloves
1 tablespoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
4 tablespoons crumbled dried rose petals (optional)

Lightly toast and grind the first seven ingredients.

Combine with the remaining four ingredients

Sambar Masala
A hot spice blend used for preparing South Indian dishes.

Preparation time: a few minutes
Makes: about 1¼ cups

1 tablespoon urad dal
1 tablespoon chana dal
2/3 cup coriander seeds
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
2 tablespoons whole black peppercorns 1 tablespoon fenugreek seeds
40 dried red chilies

Toast the first two ingredients for 5–8 minutes, or until golden. Set aside.

Toast the remaining five ingredients. Grind and store as described above.

Chat Masala
Great sprinkled on freshly-cut fruit, or added to bean dishes, according to the recipe.

Preparation and cooking time: 15 minutes in pan or 30 minutes in oven
Makes: about ¾ cup

one large cassia leaf, or bay leaf
3 tablespoons coriander seeds
1½ tablespoons cumin seeds
1¼ teaspoons whole cloves
1 teaspoon cardamom seeds
1¼ teaspoons red chili powder
1 teaspoon turmeric
¼ cup mango powder
1 tablespoon ginger powder
2 tablespoons finely-ground black salt

Toast and grind the first five ingredients.

Combine with the remaining five ingredients.

Cajun Spice Blend
Preparation time: a few minutes
Makes: about ¼ cup

1½ teaspoons yellow asafetida powder
1 teaspoon oregano powder
½ teaspoon nutmeg powder
2 tablespoons sweet paprika
1 teaspoon fine sugar
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon salt

Combine all of the above ingredients.

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