Friday, October 26, 2012

Mystic Masala - Part 1

Show and Tell : what's in your spice rack ?

I spy a lot of exotic spices in my spice rack... I love to roast them, mix them, and grind them, and there is magic right there in the kitchen!! The mix of spices is usually referred as a masala - it can be a dry powder or a wet paste.

I have been planning to write this post for a while now, and if you have been a regular on TNS you will know the reason why I have not done so - p-r-o-c-r-a-s-t-i-n-a-t-i-o-n! My middle name, if you please... :) Well, with a few prompts and requests from some readers, here it is!! This is definitely a text heavy post, so if you want to get your coffee, do so now or forever hold your peace... Let me know your feed back so I know if a post like this one is appreciated by you guys. So be open and speak your mind. Thank you!

An Indian kitchen, as some of my friends tell me, is one of  the most exotic as far as spices are concerned. Spices are a part of our lives - in our food, teas, drinks and even desserts. Some have medicinal properties too and are used as home remedies for common ailments.

This bowl was handmade and gifted to me by one of Finally Teen's friends. Thank you! I love it :)

Mustard Seed (Rai/ Sarson) 

 Unlike the yellow large ones, Indian mustard is usually tiny, black or dark brown in color, with a spicy aroma.  Tadka or Tempering is a cooking method in which cooking oil is heated  and whole spices are added to it and fried. This oil and spice mix is then added as a garnish to the dish. Mustard is often part of the Tadka in a dish. The flavor of mustard seeds adds nice spicy n nutty aroma. It is also used in very small quantities in a ground form in some masalas like garam masala in north of India or rasam powder in south of India, mustard paste along with other spices are used to marinate fish in the northeastern part of India. It is also used in some pickles and acts like a preservative.

Mustard is known to be very helpful for digestion, and can help to speed up your metabolism. It has antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties. Also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids along with calcium, iron, manganese, magnesium, niacin, phosphorus, protein, selenium and zinc.

Cumin (Jeera)

It looks a lot like caraway seeds. Usually used roasted has a strong distinct aroma which is a little on the sweet side. It is used in tempering just like mustard. Dry roasted powder is used in a lot of masalas and is great with salt lassi or chaat (street food from India).

Cumin seeds have traditionally been noted to be of benefit to the digestive system, and scientific research is beginning to bear out cumin's age-old reputation. It is a rich source of iron too. I think it is one of my favorite spice, since it is so versatile ....I don't think I can live without this one :))

Red Chili (Lal Mirch)

Red and hot, it is a part of every Indian masala dubba  (spice box). The chili powder is used in almost all the masalas and curries not only to enhance the color but for a spicy flavour. Here is a cool nurd fact - India is the world's largest producer, consumer and exporter of chilies in the world. There are so many varieties of chili in India, - Teja, Byadige, Wrinkle 273, Wonder hot, Tomato Chili, Mundu and Yellow are some of the popular varieties.
Chili is said to increase your metabolism. What's life without some spice !!

Corriander Seed (Dhaniya)

Whether it’s the green leafy fresh cilantro or the grounding earthy coriander seed, this is a spice used a lot in my kitchen . The cilantro leaf is used to garnish a lot of curries and has a distinct flavour. The seed is used in almost all the masala or curry powder I make. Famous in Ayurveda, the coriander seed is one of the three spices (along with fennel and cumin) used to balance the digestive system and to help in the assimilation of other herbs.

Turmeric Powder (Haldi)

Turmeric is the yellow of the rainbow of spices and it is used in curries for not only its delicate flavour but also its intensive color. It has a hint of the scent of ginger. It can make the dish bitter if used in  large quantities. Turmeric is a wonder spice and is used throughout Asia to treat cases of stomach and liver ailments. It is also used externally to heal sores and in cosmetics. Since am a home remedy nurd, I love to gather information that can help me live better, I found some great information on turmeric - to read click here.

Fenugreek Seed (Methi)

Fenugreek seeds have small, roughly angular, brownish yellow seeds. The seeds have a bitter taste and a nutty aroma. The pebble-like seeds are often toasted to enhance their aroma, they are  somewhat acrid in taste, so use them in moderation. When used in tadka/tempering it adds a nice aroma to the curry. It is said to do wonders to your crowning glory.

Star Anise (Chakra Phool)

I think star anise is among the most beautiful spice - as far as visual appeal is concerned.. It is used in curries and desserts. It has a strong distinctive sweet aroma. Star anise is one of the spices in five-spice powder also known as "Chinese Five Spices" It is used in biryani and some rish exotic curries. In traditional Chinese medicine, star anise is prescribed as a digestive aid and to help cure colic in babies.

                            To be continued......................
Links to some of the masalas on my blog :

Garam Masala

Rasam Powder

Chatni Powder

Malga Powder

Masala Bhat Powder

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  1. Lovely post,very informative,my favorites is star anise and fenugreek,superb clicks.

  2. I love the 'Magic' of the masalas, each one has its unique flavour which adds that twist to the regular veg non-veg preparation. Lovey click and post!

  3. Simi, I love this post! Any opportunity to learn more about spices is welcome in my book! I actually have almost all of these - I guess I'd better get myself some star anise!

  4. Very nice post, without masala cooking is none.

  5. wonderful post. very helpful and gorgeous clicks.

  6. Very helpful post. And lovely captures.

  7. Wow simi spices unplugged. When are you doing cardamom, cinammon and cloves?? Eagerly waiting

  8. What a exotic flavor of spices. Lovely post dear..First time here!!! Loved it and following you.. Check my space if time permits and follow me if you like it..


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