Spice Mixes (Indian Masalas)

1 Jan

It is sometimes useful to have a few home made spice mixes ready to hand, to speed things up in the kitchen. I would only ever make ground spice mixes that I use a lot as spices are best freshly ground. These are the Indian spice mixes or Masalas I use most often.

Panch Poran or Bengali 5 Spice 
Panch Poran literally means 5 spice or condiment. A lovely blend of cumin, fenugreek, fennel, mustard and nigella seeds. The spices are mixed and left whole ready to use whole or ground freshly for the dish. It is excellent for flavouring vegetable dishes or chutneys and can be used in dal or fish dishes. I mix this in batches because I regularly cook a number of dishes that have this mix as their main spicing.
*2 tbsp fenugreek seeds
*2 tbsp nigella seeds (Indian black onion seeds)
*2 tbsp black mustard seeds
*2 tbsp cumin seeds
*2 tbsp fennel seeds
Mix all of the above spices together. Save the spice mixture for use in your Bengali dishes. Most recipes call for about a teaspoon of the mixture.

Vindaloo Masala (Michael Pandya)
This is a hot masala great for meat curries. This recipe is for a fairly large batch but it is easy to scale it down.
*2 tbsp dried red chillis
*1 tbsp black peppercorns
*1 tbsp cloves
*2 tbsp mustard seed
*50g coriander seed
*1 tbsp fenugreek seed
*6-8 black cardamoms
*10 bayleaves
*5 sticks or 2 tbsp ground cinnamon
*2 tbsp turmeric powder
Roast the whole spices set aside to cool. Grind to a fine powder and mix in the turmeric and ground cinnamon.

Madhur Jaffrey’s basic curry powder
*2 tbsp whole coriander seeds
*1 tbsp whole cumin seeds
*2 tsp whole peppercorns
*1½ tsp whole brown mustard seeds
*5-6 cloves
*3 dried hot red chillis, crumbled
*1 tsp whole fenugreek seeds
*1 tsp ground turmeric
Roast the first 6 ingredients in a cast iron skillet and stir for a few minutes until the spices emit a light roasted aroma add the turmeric and fenugreek stir for ten seconds. Turn out onto a plate and leave to cool grind in a clean coffee grinder.

Sambhar Masala
Also known as Sambaar or Sambar Powder is a blend of ground dry-roasted spices and pulses commonly used in South Indian cooking. Particularly for cooking Lentils (Dhal or Dal) and mixed vegetable dishes.
Makes 16 tablespoon
*10 dried red chilies
*6 tbsp coriander seed
*2 tbsp cumin seeds
*1½ tbsp ground turmeric
*2 tsp black pepper
*2 tsp fenugreek
*2 teaspoon urad dal or dhal (white split gram beans)
*2 teaspoon channa dal or dhal (yellow split peas)
*2 teaspoon mung dal or dhal
Remove the seeds and stalk from chilies. Toast all the spices except the turmeric in a dry cast iron pan to give rich aromatic flavour. Set aside to cool. Do the same thing with the pulses and when cool grind with the spices and mix with the turmeric. Store in an air tight container away from light.


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