Saturday, February 25, 2012

Spice Gallery

I think it is important for me to feature a few of the crucial ingredients needed to cook Indian food with great success. A key to their cuisine is really about the correct amount and kind of spices and seasonings needed to bring out the flavor of a certain dish that will distinguish it from a fairly similar one. It has definitely been a challenge to go around town looking for select spices but it was all worth it in the end. Most of the powdered spices are easy to find so I'll highlight the more exotic and hard to find ones.

Copyright 2012 LtDan'sKitchen blogs
Cumin - These little brown grain-like seeds are often mistaken for a very similar seed, the caraway. However, cumin is much hotter to the taste, lighter in color and much larger. Often used whole, fried or roasted, in its ground form, it forms an essential base to many dishes from curries to rice. It's distinctive flavor and strong, warm aroma are due to its essential oil content, the main ingredient being cuminaldehyde.

Copyright 2012 LtDan'sKitchen blogs
Nigella - Also known as black onion seeds, these teardrop-shaped seeds are very aromatic when cooked and are used often to flavor breads and pickles. The seed has been called fennel flower, blackseed or black caraway. Obtained from the flower Nigella sativa which is native to south and southwest Asia, the seeds have a bitter pungent taste and aroma. It is also used not only as a spice but also in confectionery and liquor. The oil obtained from the seed also have various uses in medicine.

Copyright 2012 LtDan'sKitchen blogs
Cardamom Pods - The pods are usually light green in color with little black seeds which are very aromatic in flavor. Cardamom comes in three varieties: green, white and black. The first two variants are used for both sweet and savory dishes especially with rice. The latter is used for only savory dishes. The pods can be used whole while the seeds can be crushed and used to flavor sweets and other dishes. It is one of the main components of garam masala. Cardamom has a strong unique taste with an intensely aromatic resinous fragrance. Black cardamom has a smokey though not bitter aroma with a coolness similar to that of mint.

Copyright 2012 LtDan'sKitchen blogs
Fenugreek Seeds - The seeds resemble pebble-like mustard yellow seeds with an earthy flavor and are mainly used in pickles and vegetarian cooking especially as an ingredient in curry powder and curry paste. The leaves are spinach-like and are used to flavor breads and other dishes. The leaves can also be harvested as a microgreen and used as a vegetable.

1. Vijayakar, Sunil: 30 Minute indian, Laurel Glen Publishing, San Diego:2000.


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