It’s easy now! Try delicious recipes for garam masala, zaatar, curry powder, and more
Written byElaine JohnsonSeptember 7, 2010
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How to cook with spice blends
1.Panch phoron: “Five spices” in Bengali
Popular in: Northeast India and Bangladesh.
The blend: Five seeds: cumin, fennel, fenugreek, brown mustard, and nigella.
Flavors: Bittersweet and licorice-y.
How to use it: Pop briefly in hot ghee or oil to release flavors; don’t scorch, or seeds will get bitter. You can also simmer it in a dal or chicken-vegetable stew, knead into bread dough, season marinades for roasted meats, or sauté with sliced cabbage.
Baked in a very hot oven, the sauce reduces until the panch phoron seeds cling to the chicken and vegetables in chewy nubbins.
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2. Garam masala
“Hot spice mixture” in Hindi
Popular in: Northern India.
The blend: Coriander, pepper, cumin, green and sometimes black cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, bay leaves, nutmeg or mace, and ginger—the exact combo can vary.
Flavors: Warm and earthy, with a hint of sweetness.
How to use it: Sizzle garam masala in oil to release its aroma. Then, add it early in cooking for a mellow taste to something like samosas. You can also add it just before serving to brighten flavors: Swirl into chicken curry, or drizzle over pan-fried paneer (fresh Indian cheese).
4 of14Yunhee Kim
Cook with garam masala
Spiced Potato and Cauliflower Samosas
Here’s our busy cook’s take on a favorite appetizer, baked instead of fried, and with purchased dough instead of homemade.
This familiar grocery store staple is a blend of many Indian spices, including turmeric, cumin, coriander, fenugreek, mustard, and ginger. Madras style is generally hotter. Use curry to give a golden glow and earthy flavor to meat and vegetable dishes, scrambled eggs, rice dishes, even cookies.
Get them at grocery stores, online, and at specialty shops (exact selection varies)
Spicely Look for little boxes from this Fremont, California, company in many grocery spice aisles West-wide, including Albertsons and Whole Foods Market.
Savory Spice Shop Five Colorado locations (Boulder, Colorado Springs, two in Denver, and Littleton) plus Santa Rosa, California. About 375 spices and house blends, ground weekly.
Whole Spice Located in Napa, at the Oxbow Public Market. More than 350 spices and housemade blends, ground in small batches each week.
World Spice Merchants Our holy grail for spices, located just a block from Seattle’s Pike Place Market, wows us with a rush of scents worthy of Istanbul’s spice bazaar; more than 300 individual spices, including the store’s own blends.