a pinch or pack of perfect spices...

Think beyond curry. These unexpected spice blends from India are exciting and totally different from the average Indian fare. They also make wild ingredients in fusion food.

Chaat Masala

Salty, tart, zesty and perfect for party-food. The word “chaat” means snacks, and “masala” means mix or blend, and this powdered spice blend is great sprinkled over potato wedges, fried pastries, kebabs, and even fresh sliced fruit and vegetables. Try it in stir fries and salad dressings, too.

Recipe: Tomato-Cucumber Salad with Chaat Masala
Here is a tasty, simple salad that becomes instantly exotic and unique with Chaat Masala!

Mukwas

This sweet, fragrant mix is eaten by the teaspoon after meals to freshen the breath, stimulate digestion, and prevent gas and bloating. It is made of cumin, fennel, anise, almonds, coconut, white poppy seed and much more. Mukwas is specifically good for indigestion caused by spicy and greasy food, and mixed with yogurt it makes a lovely raita (yogurt sauce for curries).

Recipe: Mango Mukwas Yogurt Sauce
A fragrant, sweet Indian yogurt dip or sauce (raita). Traditionally, raitas are used as a mild sauce or side dish to mellow down spicy dishes, and to improve digestion.

Panch Pooran

This mix adds texture, taste and authenticity to simple food. It’s a combination of five unique spices: fenugreek, ajwan, fennel, kaloonji (nigella), and brown mustard seeds. All you need to do throw a teaspoon or two into hot ghee or oil, fry them until most of the seeds have popped, and then add onions. This sauté can be added to potatoes and other vegetables, lentil stews (dal), curries, pakoras, samosas, and anything else you can think of!

Recipe: Panch Pooran Potatoes
So simple, so easy, and so tasty!


Panch Pooran Potatoes

· 1 pound new potatoes, boiled and cut into wedges

· 1 onion, sliced

· 1 or 2 hot chilis, seeds removed and chopped (optional)

· 1 tablespoon panch pooran

· Himalayan salt to taste (any salt can substitute)

· Ghee or oil

· Cilantro leaves for garnish

Heat some ghee or oil in a heavy pan until hot enough to sputter a drop of water. Add panch pooran and fry until most of the seeds pop and change color. Then add onions and chili, reduce to medium heat, and fry until they are translucent. Then, add potatoes and salt to taste, stir to coat with spices, and fry another 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until potatoes have browned. Serve garnished with cilantro and maybe a little lime juice.

For a spicier variation, add turmeric, cumin powder, and leave the seeds in the hot chili.

Three Indian Delights

Think beyond curry. These unexpected spice blends from India are exciting and totally different from the average Indian fare. They also make wild ingredients in fusion food.

Chaat Masala

Salty, tart, zesty and perfect for party-food. The word “chaat” means snacks, and “masala” means mix or blend, and this powdered spice blend is great sprinkled over potato wedges, fried pastries, kebabs, and even fresh sliced fruit and vegetables. Try it in stir fries and salad dressings, too.

Tomato-Cucumber Salad with Chaat Masala

· 2 medium tomatoes, cubed

· ½ English cucumber, cut into large pieces (or equivalent amount of other types of cucumber)

· Large handful of cilantro, chopped

· ½ red onion, sliced finely

· Chaat Masala to taste

Combine all ingredients except Chaat Masala. Serve and sprinkle a light dusting of the spice over the salad. Have more of the masala available so diners can season their salad to taste.

Mukwas

This sweet, fragrant mix is eaten by the teaspoon after meals to freshen the breath, stimulate digestion, and prevent gas and bloating. It is made of cumin, fennel, anise, almonds, coconut, white poppy seed and much more. Mukwas is specifically good for indigestion caused by spicy and greasy food, and mixed with yogurt it makes a lovely raita (yogurt sauce for curries).

Mukwas Yogurt Sauce

A fragrant, sweet Indian yogurt dip or sauce (raita)

· ½ quart (500 ml) greek-style strained yogurt

· 1 tablespoon Mukwas (or more to taste)

· Optional: sliced banana or mango

Mix ingredients together, and serve the sauce with spicy curries, flatbreads, or just as a pleasant snack. Try lightly toasting the Mukwas in oil before adding to the yogurt for a slightly different flavor. This combination intensifies in flavor if allowed to sit for several hours or overnight. A little salt is sometimes a nice addition, as it deepens the other flavors.

Panch Pooran

This mix adds texture, taste and authenticity to simple food. It’s a combination of five unique spices: fenugreek, ajwan, fennel, kaloonji (nigella), and brown mustard seeds. All you need to do throw a teaspoon or two into hot ghee or oil, fry them until most of the seeds have popped, and then add onions. This sauté can be added to potatoes and other vegetables, lentil stews (dal), curries, pakoras, samosas, and anything else you can think of!

Panch Pooran Potatoes

· 1 pound new potatoes, boiled and cut into wedges

· 1 onion, sliced

· 1 or 2 hot chilis, seeds removed and chopped (optional)

· 1 tablespoon panch pooran

· Himalayan salt to taste (any salt can substitute)

· Ghee or oil

· Cilantro leaves for garnish

Heat some ghee or oil in a heavy pan until hot enough to sputter a drop of water. Add panch pooran and fry until most of the seeds pop and change color. Then add onions and chili, reduce to medium heat, and fry until they are translucent. Then, add potatoes and salt to taste, stir to coat with spices, and fry another 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until potatoes have browned. Serve garnished with cilantro and maybe a little lime juice.

For a spicier variation, add turmeric, cumin powder, and leave the seeds in the hot chili.

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