What is it that tickles the nose with that delightful spreading aroma, when taste buds tingle in sheer anticipation, and hot foods seem so tasty that table manners sometimes take a beating?
It is that spicy touch or the small addition of grounded spices that has the air filled with a delightful foretaste of good things to follow. A must in almost every Indian home, no food preparation is complete till that mouth watering delicious aroma emanates from the boiling vessel of colourful liquid, or a sweet fragrance fills the air and envelopes the senses.
No wonder people use the term ‘spice of life’ for it is that finely grounded powder of spices or blends that generates the frenzy to partake spicy preparations in a rush.
Spices are a must in every home and having them always at your disposal makes it convenient to prepare tasty dishes and earn appreciation for the culinary skills.
Here are some of the more interesting powders to keep in stock apart from the usual ones like coriander (Dhaniya) powder, Red Chilli (Lal Mirch) powder, Black Pepper powder, White pepper powder etc. for your various seasonings.
1. Garam Masala Powder: To spice up your curries and chaats that you prepare at home.
You would need
- Cinnamon (Dalchini) – a small piece of bark would do
- Cloves (Lavang) – about three tbsp
- Black cardamoms (Black coloured elaichi)– about 10 to 12 pieces
- Black cardamom seeds (elaichi seeds) – about 1 to 1 ½ tbsp would do
- Make very small pieces of the bark or cinnamon.
- Crush the black cardamoms using a small mortar and pestle.
- Separate the shells and seeds within.
- Heat a pan and add these to it.
- Stir them so that they do not get singed till a fine aroma emanates.
- Allow the pan and ingredients to cool.
- Using a mixer grinder, dry grind the mixture into a fine powder
- Store the ground mixture in an air tight container.
- This powder should last for at least a week.
Use a fine pinch each time you prepare your curries or chat and get heady with the aroma that fills the air.
2. Roasted Cumin Chili Powder: A must for your buttermilk or raitha. You can also imagine uses like additions to mixes for special chappatis or parathas.
You would need :
- Cumin Seeds – 4 to 5 Tbsp
- Red Chilies – about two handfuls
This is tricky and irritating to the throat.
- A good solution to avoid irritation is to dry heat them in the hot sun till they are crisp.
- Otherwise roasting them on the fire in a pan till the seeds splutter and the red chillies get crisp would also do, sans the cough and irritation to the throat.
- Cool the mixture and dry grind into a fine powder.
- Cool for a while and grind to a fine powder.
- Store in an air tight container.
Sprinkle lightly or as per taste on that cool lassi or raita to make it more enjoyable.
3. Green Chilly Powder : That extra tingling feeling for your tongue, when added to raita or buttermilk. One of the taste makers for papads. Used more in the south of India to spice up foods.
You would need
Take about two handfuls of green chillies and remove the stalk portion. Clean the chillies thoroughly with water. Spread them out on a plastic sheet and dry in the sun. drying can take up to a few days till the moisture is completely drained out and the chillies turn white and crisp.
You can then dry grind into a fine powder and store in an air tight container.
Use a pinch or according to taste and enjoy whatever you are having.
All these powders can also be made by using the microwave oven but generally avoided since the dry odours remain quite long in the heated atmosphere within the oven and until much later.
Indeed it is spices that spruce up your life by transforming a plain and bland offering into an exciting, stimulating and sense-pleasing creation that fills the heart and lightens the mind.