Archive for the ‘Spice Mixes’ Category

Mooli / mullangi / Radish Sambar


2010
07.08

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A very long time ago, my folks converted some extra space into an independent house and rented it out to a young couple and their 6 month old baby boy. Little did they know then that this family would influence their 4 young girls (3 daughters and a niece) in the most unexpected manner and leave an unusually lasting impression on them for the rest of their lives.

The young R couple moved in with very little baggage and a baby that looked as beautiful as the moon.  I was less than 4 years old then. And as my mother showed them around, I timidly hid between the pleats of her sari and gawped wide eyed at the good looking family. Auntie R with her fair milky white skin, silky auburn hair and spellbinding beauty could  easily pass for a movie star. Uncle R carried his chiseled features and tall personality with such refined grace that I felt certain he was a super model. Baby R gurgled in his mothers arms, tugging at my heart strings for he looked exactly like the blond, blue eyed doll I often longed for. They settled in decorating the place with their fine taste. Just into their twenties, about over a year into their marriage, the couple were deep in love and behaved like newly weds. Their open displays of affection often amused us 4 (obviously, we’d never seen anything like this before, our parents being the – no touch, no hugs and absolutely no kissing kinds). At times we overheard them singing bollywood love ballads to each other and we giggled amongst ourselves, pretending to be entertained by their silliness, but secretly reveling in the romance of it all.  We embraced the refreshing excitement that had come about our otherwise prosaic being.

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In the years that followed, though raucously different from us, the Rs formed an integral part of our family. Baby R who grew up and blended into our all girls team with ease, sought in us the companionship of siblings he never had. When uncle R’s Royal Enfield Bullet thundered through the colony, flaunting his voguish grin as he nodded at us in recognition, we girls gleamed smug at our playmates. Such class was unheard of in our bourgeoisie neighborhood and to be associated with him gave us great pride. And auntie R, she was a whole different story. An eye-opener to the exciting world of the adults, she was our first grown up friend. We girls, every so often hung around her while she cooked and went about her daily routine engaging us with detailed and glorified tales of her childhood, wild teenage years, family gossip, movies, parties she’d been to etc etc.. Name it and she could and would talk to us about it. The age difference, never a problem. The young impressionable girls that we were, we often reached to her for advice about grooming and clothes. And since our folks could (would?) afford only the inexpensive kind and though we knew well that they didn’t come anywhere near her tastes, we still scurried to her and she gave us unprejudiced advice and approval. We often joined her while she shopped in the upscale parts of the town and the best part of these trysts were the elaborate treats that came after – Decadent food in some of the finest restaurants of Bangalore. Life was good and the Rs added to the marvel.

After having witnessed more than a decade of this frolic, when we girls were well into our teens, we had to watch helpless and bewildered the house of cards collapse as Uncle R’s business went under. Their earlier extravagant lifestyle had left them with nothing to fall back on. My parents whom I’d always been embarrassed about for their frugality and thrifty lifestyle, rose to the occasion and for their part, let the R’s continue to board, rent free. I think they secretly helped with the groceries too. Nothing was said in the open. But we understood. A couple of years later when nothing seemed to work, the R’s  moved to a different part of town to live in with their parents. They left leaving a big gaping hole in the lives of us 4.

The R’s are doing fine today, Baby R is a successful professional, married and settled. But often, when I look back to those days, though they were mostly sunny and happy, it is the last two years of distress that really clamors in my memory. Plan for the future, that is where you are going to spend the rest of your life, I’d often heard my parents say. And after what the R’s taught me, I couldn’t agree with them more.

This morning as I cut the radish for the sambar, I couldn’t help but remember auntie R. Apart from the many other things that impressed me about her, her unparalleled cooking was at the top. When I sat whining at the table, as a kid, refusing to eat my mom’s food, a bowl of sambar from auntie R’s would have my plate wiped out in no time. Yes, I miss the Rs dearly today. But I’m glad they are all fine.

No, the recipe for the sambar powder is not from auntie R. It’s from my friend Deepthi, whose Rasam recipe I’d posted earlier here. And from what I can remember this comes close enough!

Sambar Spice Mix (Sambar powder)

If you want to make a bigger quantity of the mix to last for later, follow these proportions

1/2 cup urad dal 
1/2 cup chana dal 
2 tbsp cumin seeds 
3 tbsp pepper corns
2 tsp fenugreek seeds  
2 tsp poppy seeds 
1 cup coriander seeds
1 cup desiccated coconut / copra
1/2 tbsp pepper corns 
1 tsp of cinnamon clove spice mix 
4 tbsp chili powder 
4 tbsp paprika (key ingredient that gives the rich red color)
3 – 4 sprigs of  curry leaves

The following proportions can be used if you want to make fresh spice mix on the fly

1/4 tsp poppy seeds1 tbsp coriander seeds
1/2 tbsp urad dal
1/2 tbsp channa dal
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp desiccated coconut / copra
1/4 tsp poppy seeds
1/2 tbsp pepper corns
1/5  tsp fenugreek seeds 
1 tbsp coriander seeds
big pinch of cinnamon clove spice mix
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp paprika (key ingredient that gives the rich red color)
3 – 4  curry leaves

Directions

Dry roast all the ingredients individually (except the cinnamon clove spice mix and chili powders), grind all the ingredients together to a smooth powder. If you are making the bulk quantity, store it in an air tight container to use later.

Radish Sambar

I’m not a big fan of adding multiple vegetable while making sambar. I think adding a single vegetable at a time gives a distinct and unique taste to each kind of sambar you make. My most favorite is the radish sambar. I love okra (bhindi), egg plant  and cucumber sambars too. But given a choice  between the four I always choose radish any day.

 Ingredients

2 cups of white radish sliced
1 onion or 8-10 shallots chopped fine
1 cup tuvar dal/ lentils (pigeon pea)
2 plump and ripe tomatoes chopped
11/2 tsp rasam powder (or however much spicy you want the rasam to be)
1/2 tsp black mustard seeds
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp turmeric
5- 6 curry leaves
a pinch of asafoetida
1/2 tsp tamarind paste or 1 lemon sized ball of pitted tamarind soaked in warm water and pulp extracted
1 – 2 tsp jaggery shavings
2 tbsp chopped cilantro (optional)
2 tbsp clarified butter /ghee
water
salt to taste

Directions

  • Pressure cook dal with 2 cups water, tamarind extract, turmeric, tomatoes and radish and keep aside.
  • Heat oil or ghee in a pan, add asafoetida mustard and when they pop add curry leaves and onions and sauté until the onions are translucent.
  • Add the cooked dal and vegetables and mix well
  • Add sambar powder, jaggery, salt and add more water to get desired consistency and bring it to boil. Put off the flame.
  • Garnish with cilantro (optional)
  • Optionally

  • Heat a little ghee in a small pan and add a pinch of asafoetida, 1/4 tsp of mustard, 1/4 tsp of cumin and 5 –6 curry leaves.
  • When the mustard pops, switch off the flame and  pour the seasoning over the  Sambar to increase the flavor.
  • The Simple Tomato Rasam


    2010
    03.11

    Every time I post a Tamil-Kannadiga Recipe, it is mostly, keeping my friend A in mind. She is from the Northern part of India, a lover of the South Indian cuisine and a big foodie like me. We are very alike in many aspects. Obsessive, over controlling mothers. Manipulative wives. And both of us, hyperventilate at the sight of food. Owing to our similar traits, we stick to each other like fleas on a dog, and are always on the phone, condoning, consoling, supporting, justifying and accepting our respective behaviors.
    So, when A asked me for a Rasam recipe, even though I knew it was futile to try convince her, that you simply don’t  go to a Mallu carnivore for a recipe like this, I tried. Until, she held me at gunpoint with her guilt trip fallacy (now, where have I seen that before?). So, I acquiesced, only with an evil plot at the back of my mind. I’m going to hold this against her, until she churns up some yummy Malpuas for me and I get to eat myself sick from it!!!  How’s that for a plan?

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    Though I come from an ancestry, that’s clueless about Rasam, I’ve lots of friends, for whom it is a staple at every meal. With their their help, I have been able to make a good version of it myself. This spicy sour clear soup, is made from lentil stock and one lead ingredient, or a combination of them.  To name a few, tomato, tamarind, garlic, ginger, lemon, pineapple or chili can be used.
    The recipe for the bulk Rasam Powder is from my friend D, a die hard Kannadiga and a born cook. I say born, because I’ve watched her cook from a very young age. Even as young teens, while we hung out at each other places on rainy days, instead of doing the usual stuff youngsters do at that age, she used to cook for me. And since my greed for food is inborn too ;), I enjoyed it.  With D’s evident years of cooking experience, you can rest assured that the recipe would be as perfect as it can get!

    Rasam Spice Mix (Rasam powder)

    If you want to make a bigger quantity of the mix to last for later, follow these proportions

    1 tbsp cumin seeds
    1 tbsp pepper corns 
    1 tsp fenugreek seeds
    3/4 cup coriander seeds
    1/3 tsp cinnamon clove spice mix
    3 tbsp dry red chili powder
    3 tbsp paprika(key ingredient that gives the rich red color)
    3 sprigs of curry leaves

    The following proportions can be used if you want to make fresh spice mix on the fly

    1/2 tsp cumin seeds
    1/2 tsp pepper corns
    1/5  tsp fenugreek seeds 
    1 tsp coriander seeds
    a pinch of cinnamon clove spice mix
    1/2 tsp chili powder
    1 tsp paprika (key ingredient that gives the rich red color)
    3 – 4  curry leaves

    Directions

    Dry roast all the ingredients individually (except the cinnamon clove spice mix and chili powders), grind all the ingredients together to a smooth powder. If you are making the bulk quantity, store it in an air tight container to use later.

    Tomato Rasam

    Traditionally for Rasam, the cooked dal is filtered and only the clear stock is used. The residue dal, is kneaded into the dough for the rotis, or seasoned with mustard and chilies to form a separate dish. I however, mash up the dal and retain it in my  rasam. If you wish to use only the clear stock of the dal, then double the quantity of the dal in the below recipe.

    Ingredients

    1/4 cup tuvar dal/ lentils (pigeon pea)
    2 plump and ripe tomatoes
    11/2 tsp rasam powder (or however much spicy you want the rasam to be)
    1/2 tsp black mustard seeds
    1/2 tsp cumin seeds
    1/2 tsp turmeric
    5- 6 curry leaves
    a pinch of asafoetida
    1/2 tsp tamarind paste or 1 lemon sized ball of pitted tamarind soaked in warm water and pulp extracted
    1 – 2 tsp jaggery shavings
    2 tbsp chopped cilantro
    1 tsp grated coconut (optional)
    2 tbsp clarified butter /ghee
    water
    salt to taste

    Directions

  • If you plan on retaining the dal in the Rasam, pressure cook dal with 11/2 cup water, tamarind extract, turmeric and whole tomatoes together. Peel the skin of the cooked tomatoes and mash them up with the dal until there are no lumps,

    or
    If you plan on using just the stock of the dal then, pressure cook the dal separately, drain out the stock and in it, cook peeled and crushed tomatoes along with turmeric and tamarind extract

  • Add rasam powder, jaggery and add more water to get desired consistency and bring it to boil. Put off the flame.
  • Heat a little ghee in a small pan and add asafoetida, mustard, cumin and curry leaves.
  • When the mustard pops, switch off the flame and  pour the seasoning over the  Rasam.
  • Garnish with cilantro and grated coconut.

  • Punjabi And Kashmiri Garam Masala.


    2010
    01.27

    kgm2Some years ago while working for an Indian company I had to move to Bloomington, IL, for an assignment at an American establishment.  Bloomington, which is about a 100 miles from Chicago, was then a small humdrum city (town?) and had absolutely nothing ever happening there. People who know me are well aware that it doesn’t take much to please me. I’m not the outdoorsy, or the carousing kind. Nor do I need that constant stimulation around me to keep me alive. So, if I have to say a place was dull and boring, trust me people, you would want to move there only if you are seeking isolation or running away from the law.

    So on day one, as I stepped into this town from its tiny winy Airport, the bitter arctic air bit right into my marrows, so hard, that I immediately began hating this place with every fiber of my being. Though it was fairly early in the evening as I drove to the hotel from the airport, the only visible sign of habitation were a handful of cars that drove past me.  All around me were deserted streets, snow sprawling her icy limbs as far as my eyes could see and my sinking heart hit rock bottom. The fat fact that I was still recovering from a recent heartbreak goaded the situation further. My balance was clearly upset and I pictured myself growing old and miserable in this small town, all by myself, with frost bitten hand and limbs, microwaving cold single dinners while picking at my cold sores.

    Days passed and I began settling down. Though I had a caring family and strong circle of friends who called me every single day to check on me and keep me going, I continued to wallow in self pity and persisted at loathing every minute of my existence in that little town. Then, unnoticed by me, two little (in size only) packages of delight walked right into my life. A1, my high spirited little Kashmiri roommate and A2, my little Punjabi colleague  who sat right behind me at work. We all worked for the same employer and though we were acquainted with each other from early on, it was our stay in this cold secluded place that sparked a connection which, to this day I remember with great fondness.

    We were much younger then, each at different stages of committed relationships. A1, was engaged to be married, an arranged one, and obviously was chary of the risks involved. A2 was picking up lost ties with his childhood sweetheart after several years of break up, and was now contemplating marriage with her again. And me like I said earlier, was grieving  from a recent break up, sworn off all men and was determined to die an old maid. This unusual combination of wary, hope and distress between the three of us, brought about a new perspective in our individual lives. Each one of us saw through the other ones eyes, and in a strange way received reassurance. Together we explored the quaint little town, which turned out not that bad after all. In each others company we cooked during the winter,  traveled during summer, partied during the weekends,  survived a car crash, spoke through the nights, slept through the days  and most important of all spent long hours of familiar silence in each others comforting presence. After a year in that place, the three of us moved out. I moved to sunny California to marry my soulmate, R, who, but for my friends, I don’t think I would have found. The little As too soon married and are settled now with more little As of their own. And I somehow know for certain they’ve found their true loves too.

    This post is for friendships found when you least expect it. It doesn’t matter if you keep them forever or you move on. They were there when you needed them and that is all that matters. Like someone rightly said, friends are the siblings God forgot to give us.

    pgm2

    The little As both fine cooks, exposed the Punjabi and Kashmir cuisines to my then budding awareness of the culinary world. I owe my curiosity to explore more of these cuisines to their superior cooking.

    Punjabi Garma Masala

     kgmp10Ingredients

    1/2 cup [amazon-product type=”text” text=”cumin seeds”]B000JMBECW [/amazon-product]/ jeera
    2 tbsp [amazon-product type=”text” text=”coriander seeds”]B000N4WWS6[/amazon-product] / dhania
    1½ ” (1.5 inches)[amazon-product type=”text” text=”cinnamon”]B001VNP1T0[/amazon-product] stick /patta / dalchini
    1 tsp [amazon-product type=”text” text=”green cardamom”]B000JMBEEK[/amazon-product] seeds /elaichi
    1 tsp [amazon-product type=”text” text=”black cardamom”]B000S16XV6[/amazon-product]seeds /moti elaichi
    2 tsp [amazon-product type=”text” text=”cloves”]B00017P2LE[/amazon-product] /long
    1/8 [amazon-product type=”text” text=”nutmeg”]B00017WSNE[/amazon-product] kernel /jaiphal
    2 blades of [amazon-product type=”text” text=”mace”]B000M930C4[/amazon-product] / javitri
    1 tbsp black pepper corns
    2 whole [amazon-product type=”text” text=”star anise”]B000EWMI5O[/amazon-product]/ chakra phool
    4 [amazon-product type=”text” text=”bay leaf”] B000JMBG2A [/amazon-product] /tej patta

    Directions

  • Dry roast the spices individually in a heavy skillet, preferably cast iron. Make sure the flame is set at medium heat. Keep stirring, be watchful and don’t let the spices burn on you.
  • Grind all the spices together into a fine powder.
  • Store in an air tight container.
  • Use sparingly since these are intense spices and can be over powering.
  •  

    Kashmiri Garam Masala

    kgmp20Ingredients

    1/4 cup [amazon-product type=”text” text=”black cumin”]B000JMBE2W[/amazon-product] seeds /shahi jeera
    2-3 [amazon-product type=”text” text=”bay leaves”] B000JMBG2A [/amazon-product], crushed
    2 tsp [amazon-product type=”text” text=”green cardamom”]B000JMBEEK[/amazon-product] seeds
    2 tsp [amazon-product type=”text” text=”black cardamom”]B000S16XV6[/amazon-product] seeds
    1 tbsp black peppercorns
    2 tsp whole [amazon-product type=”text” text=”cloves”]B00017P2LE[/amazon-product] /gramboo/long
    1 tbsp [amazon-product type=”text” text=”fennel”]B000N5YJZE[/amazon-product] /saunf
    1 tsp crushed [amazon-product type=”text” text=”mace”]B000M930C4[/amazon-product] /may flower/javitri
    1½ ” (1.5 inches) [amazon-product type=”text” text=”cinnamon”]B001VNP1T0[/amazon-product] stick /patta / dalchini
    1/8 [amazon-product type=”text” text=”nutmeg”]B00017WSNE[/amazon-product] kernel /jaiphal
    1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds

    Directions

  • Dry roast the spices individually in a heavy skillet, preferably cast iron. Make sure the flame is set at medium heat. Keep stirring, be watchful and don’t let spices burn on you.
  • Grind all the spices together into a fine powder.
  • Store in an air tight container.
  • Use sparingly since these are intense spices and can be over powering.
  • Spice It Up


    2010
    01.10

    homep

    Yes, I’m always looking for an easy way out in the kitchen (“Just kitchen?” I can feel my husband smirk). I agree that elaborate cooking is very often unnecessary. I substitute quite often with frozen veggies and canned tomatoes. But, there are a few things that I will/can/shall not compromise with. Fresh spices is number one in that short list.

    My biggest concern with store bought mixes, especially the Indian kind, is that they are full of less expensive spices like turmeric, coriander, red chilies etc, and hence have little aroma or flavor. They rarely have expiry dates and owing to the fact that they have been sitting on the store shelves forever, most of them end up tasting the same. I know I’m stepping on many toes while writing this. But, unless you want your food to taste boringly like everybody else’s, I wouldn’t recommend them.

    Wouldn’t you love to give a unique flavor to your cooking with just a tad bit more of effort? Oh, it is so worth it. Whole spices keep fresh for very long periods when stored in air tight containers in a cool place. The spices are so intense that very little goes a long way. You can mix and match the spices on the go to create your own new flavors. Roasting and grinding them up on the fly takes little as 5 -10 minutes. You can make them ahead of time in moderate quantities and store them in air tight containers for later use. My songs of praise can go on.

    – I simply use home made spice mixes to give an identity and individuality to my cooking.

     
    cloveandcinnamon This spice mix is a blend of cinnamon and cloves in 1:1 ratio(by weight). The combination of these two spices give a very unique flavor. Again, this is a very intense spice mix and should be used very sparingly. [read more..]
     

     

     

     

      Kerala Garam Masala

    kgmside21 I finally got off the phone with my Mom who ok’ed my proportions for the kerala garam masala! I’m sorry I kept you waiting. It took time because I couldn’t have her tsking while reading this post. [read more..]

     

     

     

     

     Three Cs Spices(Cardamom Cinnamon Clove Spice Mix)

    kgmside2This spice mix is a blend of cardamons, cinnamon and cloves in the ratio (by weight) 1:2:2 [read more..]

     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
    pgmside Some years ago while working for an Indian company I had to move to Bloomington, IL, [read more]
     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Kashmiri Garam Masala

    kgmpsideSome years ago while working for an Indian company I had to move to Bloomington, IL, for an assignment at an American ..[read more]

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Cinnamon Cloves Spice Mix


    2009
    12.30

    This spice mix  is a blend of cinnamon and cloves in 1:1 ratio (by weight). The combination of these two spices give a very unique flavor. Again, this is an intense spice mix and should be used sparingly.

    cloveandcinnamon

     Ingredients
    50 gms cinnamon (patta/dalchini)
    50 gms cloves (gramboo/long)

    Directions

  • Dry roast the spices individually in a heavy skillet, preferably cast iron. Make sure the flame is set at medium heat. Keep stirring, be watchful and don’t let spices burn on you.
  • Grind both the spices together into a fine powder.
  • Store in an air tight container.
  • Use sparingly since these are intense spices and can be over powering.

    kgmp30

  • Three Cs Spices(Cardamom Cinnamon Clove Spice Mix)


    2009
    12.30

    This spice mix  is a blend of cardamoms, cinnamon and cloves in a 1:2:2 ratio (by weight). The combination of these three spices gives a rich flavor to any dish. Again, this is an intense spice mix and should be used sparingly

    Ingredients
    50 gms cinnamon (patta/dalchini)
    50 gms cloves (gramboo/long)
    25 gms cardamom seeds (elaichi/elakka/elakki)

    Directions

  • Dry roast the spices individually in a heavy skillet, preferably cast iron. Make sure the flame is set at medium heat. Keep stirring, be watchful and don’t let spices burn on you.
  • Grind the spices together into a fine powder.
  • Store in an air tight container.
  • Use sparingly since these are intense spices and can be over powering
  • kgmp30

    Kerala Garam Masala


    2009
    12.30

    I finally got off the phone with my Mom who ok’ed my proportions for the kerala garam masala! I’m sorry I kept you waiting. It took time because I couldn’t have her tsking while reading this post. Call me a sissy, but I really do need her approval. Among all the excellent cooks in my life, she is the finest. I’m not saying this because of the obvious fact –she scares the living day lights out of me, but simply because, in my standards she is the best I’ve seen so far.

    kgm60

    There are many versions of this garam masala and this is my Mother’s. It has been tried and tested by my family and friends, and all of them have loved it. The proportions are in metric system, because that is the system my Mother uses and I don’t (dare not) question my Mother.

    kgmp10

    Ingredients

    25 gms cardamom seeds(elakka/elaki/elaichi)
    50 gms cinnamon (patta/dalchini)
    50 gms cloves (gramboo/long)
    1 whole, 5 gms when powdered nutmeg (jadikya/jaifal)
    100 gms fennel (perinjeeragum/saunf)
    5 gms mace (may flower/javitri) – optional
    20 gms star anise (chakra phool) – optional

    Directions

  • Dry roast the spices individually in a heavy skillet, preferably cast iron. Make sure the flame is set at medium heat. Keep stirring, be watchful and don’t let spices burn on you.
  • Grind all the roasted spices together into a fine powder.
  • Store in an air tight container.
  • Use sparingly since these are intense spices and can be over powering.