Whenever I think about comfort food but I also want a little bit of a humf, I think of Indian food. Well, Indian curries, more specifically speaking. There is something calming and soothing about Indian curries, the taste of the fresh vegetables mixed with those ticklish aromatic spices immediately transport me into the realm of calmness and I instantly feel like I just got warmly hugged.
One of the things that fascinate me the most about Indian food is the exquisitely vibrant masala blends. Each and every single one of them is like an explosion of freshness, hotness, and vibrancy which makes even the most grumpy of the taste buds literally sing with joy. The masalas are actually the combination of several different types of spices, herbs, roots, seeds, dried fruits, and leaves. If you make a red dahl curry, a saag aloo or a pakora, for example, you will add to it some sort of masala. Distinct regions of India, Kashmir, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, etc have their own masala blend and even some families have their own traditional masalas, passed on to the family members from generation to generation, throughout the years.
I have gathered the five most commonly used masalas in western cuisine so you can make them yourself, either to have it in your kitchen cupboard or to give to one of your friends as a gift – whenever you make something yourself and give it to someone you are giving them not just a gift but also a bit of your time, thoughts and heart and it means that you care and make people feel very special. So here we have the masalas that I have selected for you guys, There are much, much more in my food journal and I will, definitely be posting them all as we cook away.
Garam masala is a blend of aromatic spices, which is used to give flavor to the dish. This masala is usually sprinkled on top of the dish before being served, to retain all the aromas. There could be a slight variation in the ingredients used in different parts of the country but here is a basic recipe:
• 1½ cups cumin seeds (jeera)
• 1/2 cup coriander (dhania) seeds
• 1/2 cup black cardamom (badi elaichi)
• 1/3 cup black peppercorns (kalimirch)
• 3/4 cup green cardamoms (hari elaichi)
• 7 – 8 cinnamon sticks (dalchini)
• 1/3 cup cloves (lavang)
• 1 cup mace (javantri)
• 20 – 25 bay leaves (tej patta)
• 2 nutmegs (jaiphal)
Tandoori masala or Tandoori sauce is a mixture of spices specifically for use with a tandoor, or clay oven, in traditional north Indian and Pakistani cooking. The specific spices vary somewhat from one region to another but typically include garam masala, garlic, ginger, onion, cayenne pepper, and may include other spices and additives. The spices are often ground together with a pestle and mortar.
•2 tsp cloves (laung / lavang)
•1 tbsp mace (javantri)
•1 1/2 tbsp cumin seeds (jeera)
•1 1/2 tbsp coriander (dhania) seeds
•2 tsp black peppercorns (kalimirch)
•2 black cardamom (badi elaichi)
•8 cardamoms (elaichi)
•3 tbsp dried fenugreek leaves (kasuri methi)
•2 tsp dried ginger (soonth) powder
•2 tsp dried garlic (lehsun) powder
•1 tsp nutmeg (jaiphal) powder
•1 tsp red food colour
This can be classified as Indian sachet d’epices. In Hindi, it literally means a pouch of spices. It is a bouquet of spices tied up in a muslin bag and left in a curry or liquid to let the flavors infuse. There can be many variations of this masala. This masala is added for easy removal of the spices after they have infused with the liquid. It has various uses in Indian cooking. It is used to flavor curries and also to flavor the water or broth.
Bay leaf (tej patta)
coriander seeds whole (dhania)
vetiver roots –dried, (khas ki kadi)
sandalwood powder (chandan)
dry rose petals (sukhe gulab ke phool)
black cardamom (kali ilaichi)
cassia buds (kabab chini)
cinnamon (dal chini)
litchen (pathar ka phool)
galingale (pan ki jadi)
Except for Daniya (50 gr), take 25 gr of each item and make your own spice blend.
PAV BHAJI MASALA
Pav bhaji masala is the most often used spice powder in pav bhaji and tawa pulao which are popular street foods of Mumbai.
8 tbsp of whole coriander seeds
2 tbsp cumin seeds
2 tbsp fennel seeds
2 tbsp red chilly powder
10 brown cardamom
4 to 5 cinnamon stick
1 tbsp black peppercorns
1 tsp cloves
1 tbsp ginger powder
1.5 tbsp dry mango powder
1 tbsp black salt
1 tbsp pomegranate seeds
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tbsp turmeric powder
1 tbsp carom seeds
As the name suggests this masala is used with the Indian street food called chaat. Chaats are mostly associated with sour, piquant, and spicy titbits that are eaten as snacks. The piquancy in chaats is created by adding chaat masala.
Chaat masala is rarely made in hotels or homes, as it is readily available in the market as a condiment. The masala is cooked by boiling the spices individually and grinding them to a smooth fine powder then are sifted through a muslin cloth to get the smooth powdery texture.
• 1 cup slightly roasted coriander (dhania) seeds
• 1 cup whole dry Kashmiri red chilies, roasted
• 1 cup roasted cumin seeds (jeera)
• 1 cup dried mango powder (amchur)
• 3 tbsp black peppercorns (kalimirch)
• 1 cup salt
• 3 tbsp black salt (sanchal)
Chana masala or chickpea curry is a perfect example of proper comfort food, it is made with garam masala and it is soooo comforting you are going to feel like it’s a hug in a bowl.