Category Archives: Masalas

Spice Melanges

Pitlai Podi

Indira loves to hang around the kitchen when I make a batch of this podi, because its’ preparation involves one of her favorite culinary processes – the roasting and grinding of coriander seeds.

The quantities mentioned here will make enough podi to fill a little pot or jar and which will keep well for a couple of months in the refrigerator.

Pitlai Podi

6 tablespoons of coriander seeds

2 tablespoons of chana daal (yellow split pea lentils)

4 tablespoons of freshly grated coconut

1/4 teaspoon of asofetida

1 large dry red chilli (optional)

In a frying pan, roast the coriander seeds at a medium-high heat for a few minutes, stirring frequently so that the seeds don’t go too brown or burn.

Take the seeds out in to a bowl and in the same pan, roast the red chilli and daal (till the latter turns a light brown) in a teaspoon of sunflower oil.

Remove the lentils in to the same bowl as the seeds.  Now roast the coconut in the same frying pan till it turns a golden brown color.

When they have cooled, grind all the ingredients together in to a powder – it  doesn’t have to have too fine a texture – and store in an air-tight bottle or jar.

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Garam Masala

The aloo-palak I made for dinner a couple of days ago didn’t quite taste the same, and I am inclined to put that down to the fact that I have been using a commercial/packaged garam masala for a while now, instead of  the home-made version which I ran out of a couple of weeks ago.

I do keep  a packet of store-bought garam masala handy for use when I haven’t yet had the time to grind a fresh batch of this spice mix. But the store-bought variety doesn’t really make the grade, IMO. It lack the  richness/fullness of taste that homemade garam masala adds to curries and subzis, and even after months of sitting in a bottle, the latter retains an aroma and a flavor that the store-bought kind just can’t match, even when fresh.

Recipes for garam masala vary in India by region and indeed from one family to another even in the same part of India.

This is how my mother makes  it and it is one of those important,basic,essential recipes that I want the girls to find here.

Garam Masala (this recipe is also on Garam Masala on Foodista )

Black Cardamom – 50 gms

Green Cardamom, Cinnamon, Cloves, Black Cumin/Caraway seeds – 10 gms each

Cumin seeds, Black pepper corns, Coriander seeds – 125 gms each (the last is optional since most curries are flavored with some coriander powder as well)

Heat a frying pan/wok to a  high temperature. Put in all the spices and roast for 1/2 a minute, stirring every few seconds. Then turn the heat off and

leave the spices in for another minute, turning them over a few times.

Grind everything together to a fairly fine texture and store in an airtight bottle.

This is a very worthwhile task- despite the sneezes it can induce on account of the pepper- because good garam masala makes up the heart of many an Indian curry or subzi, along with the ginger, the garlic, the onions and the tomatoes.

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