Learn authentic Indian cooking with American Masala by Suvir Saran, including recipes like Savory Indian Crêpes with Tomato-Shallot Chutney (Cheelas); Goan-Style Shrimp Curry; and Chicken-Chickpea Harira.
Makes about 3/4 cup
Sambhaar is a spice blend that is the southern Indian equivalent to Garam Masala, a spice blend used often in northern India. The nutty flavor comes from the addition of channa dal (yellow split peas) and urad dal (small white lentils). I don't add the customary amount of fenugreek seeds as they can make the Sambhaar overwhelmingly bitter; if you crave a more traditional flavor, then double the amount of fenugreek. Add Sambhaar to soups, stews, and sauces or sprinkle onto meat before broiling or grilling.
Place all of the spices in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Toast until the mustard seeds begin to pop and the skillet starts to smoke, stirring often, 3-1/2 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a spice grinder or coffee mill and grind until powder fine. Store in an airtight glass jar for up to 4 months.
Makes about 1/2 cup
Toasting cumin seeds and grinding them powder fine is one of my favorite spice tricks. The smell and taste of toasted cumin is unbelievable. Besides adding it to stir-fries, I like to add a pinch to guacamole and fresh salsas.
Place cumin seeds in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Toast, while shaking the skillet occasionally, until the cumin becomes a toasty brown color and starts to smoke, 4 to 5 minutes. Place the cumin seeds in a bowl to cool. Once cooled, grind in a spice grinder or coffee mill until powder fine. Store in an airtight container for up to 4 months.
Makes about 3/4 cup
Garam masala is the Indian equivalent of French herbes de Provence or Chinese five-spice powder. The recipe changes from region to region within northern India and can be varied according to whim. Here, rosebuds (found in Indian or Middle Eastern markets) add an exciting floral note, but you can substitute black cardamom, fennel seeds (in the style of Kashmir), or a teaspoon of royal cumin (shahi or kala zeera, also found in Indian markets)—or just eliminate the roses altogether. Once you taste the difference that this simple powder makes in your cooking, you will find it worth the investment of cupboard space. As a rule (one that certainly gets broken at times), Garam Masala is only added at the last step of cooking, almost like a fresh herb, because it tends to become bitter if cooked too long.
If the roses have stems, break them off and discard. Heat the roses with the cinnamon, bay leaves, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, cardamom pods, whole peppercorns, cloves, and chile in a medium skillet over medium-high heat, stirring often, until the cumin becomes brown, 2-1/2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a spice grinder or coffee mill, add the nutmeg and mace, and grind until powder fine. Store in an airtight container for up to 4 months.
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This page created February 2008
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