Making Indian spice mixes - masalas

The friendliest place on the web for anyone that enjoys cooking.
If you have answers, please help by responding to the unanswered posts.

pepperhead212

Executive Chef
Joined
Nov 21, 2018
Messages
3,607
Location
Woodbury, NJ
Yesterday I updated my Indian spice mixes - something I always do in the fall, since the cold season is when I use them the most, and I throw out the small amounts left, as they are (mostly) ground spices, and I want fresh, for the upcoming season. Sambar masala and garam masala I use most, so they were made recently, and didn't need to be made again.

I made some Panch Phoron - the simplest one to make, since it is all whole spices mixed together, without toasting. It is used in Bangali cuisine, and keeps very well, since it is not ground. It is simply 1 tb each cumin, nigella, black mustard seed, fenugreek, fennel, and celery seed. That's it!
Spices for the Panch Phoron - black nigella, cumin, fenugreek, fennel, radhuni, and mustard seed. by pepperhead212, on Flickr

Panch Phoron, super easy as the spices are just mixed together, whole, with no toasting. by pepperhead212, on Flickr
 

pepperhead212

Executive Chef
Joined
Nov 21, 2018
Messages
3,607
Location
Woodbury, NJ
The second thing I made was some Rasam Masala, which is a ground spice mix, used in S India in dishes called rasam, but it can be used in other dishes, too. This and the sambar masala I use the most, though I might find something else I like as much!

Rasam Masala

2½ tb black peppercorns
1½ tb cumin
2 tsp fenugreek
2 tb toor dal
30 cumin leaves
5 tb coriander seed
3 kashmiri peppers, cut into pieces
10 Thai peppers, or similar, cut up
1/2 tb turmeric

A. Heat skillet over low heat, and add peppercorns, cumin, and fenugreek, and toss over the low heat for 2 min. Add toor dal and toss another 2 min. Remove to a plate to cool. Still over low heat, toss the curry leaves, until curled and crispy, about 2 min. Remove to plate.

B. Over medium heat, toast coriander for 2 min., then remove to plate. Still over medium heat, toast the cut up chiles about 2 minutes, or until crisp, then remove to plate to cool. When all is cool, grind, with the turmeric added.
Spices for the Rasam Masala, to be toasted, before grinding. by pepperhead212, on Flickr

Finished Rasam Masala by pepperhead212, on Flickr
 

pepperhead212

Executive Chef
Joined
Nov 21, 2018
Messages
3,607
Location
Woodbury, NJ
A third masala I tried is one I haven't made before, and these last two I make by toasting them all in one pan at the same time, which looked easier! It is Pav Bhaji masala, which is from the Maharashtra state of India. As usual with these masalas, it takes longer to measure them out, than to cook!

Pav Bhaji Masala

In a 12" wok, combine the the following spices:
6 Kashmiri peppers, cut into pieces
4 Thai peppers, broken up
5 tb coriander seed
1 tb black peppercorns
5 cloves
2 tb cumin
1½ tb fennel
1" cinnamon, broken up
4 black cardamom pods, smashed

Place over medium heat, and stir and toss for 2½-3 minutes, making sure the chiles don't burn. Remove to plate to cool.

Measure out:
1 tb black salt
1 tb turmeric
2 tb amchur

When plate has cooled, grind the spices, along with the powders. Place in a jar, and store up to 3 months, or in fridge.
Spices for the Pav Bhaji, ready to toast all together, except for the powders. by pepperhead212, on Flickr

Toasting the spices for the Pav Bhaji. by pepperhead212, on Flickr

Toasted, cooled spices, for the Pav Bhaji, ready to grind. by pepperhead212, on Flickr

Finished Pav Bhaji by pepperhead212, on Flickr
 

pepperhead212

Executive Chef
Joined
Nov 21, 2018
Messages
3,607
Location
Woodbury, NJ
The last one I made - Malvani Masala - is another spice mix from Maharashtra, and has the most spices, and they are tossed in a small amount of oil, like the variety of sambar masala I make, which gives it a totally different flavor.

Malvani Masala

4 tb coriander seed
1 tb dagad phool
1 tsp Szechwan peppercorns
1 tb black peppercorns
1/2 tb white poppy seeds
1 tb fennel
1 tb kala jeerah
1" stick cinnamon, broken up
1/2 tb mustard seed
4 green cardamom pods
2 large or 3 medium Indian bay leaves
2 star anise, broken
1/2 tb cumin
1 tsp blades of mace
5 cloves
8 kashmiri peppers, cut into pieces
8 Thai peppers, cut up
2 tsp oil

Combine all of the spices and oil in a 12" wok, and mix to thoroughly coat everything with oil. Place over medium heat, and toss and stir for 3-4 minutes, or until spices are golden, and chiles are crispened. Scrape onto a plate, and grind, along with:
1 tsp turmeric and
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

Store in a glass jar up to 4 months.
All the spices and Chiles ready for toasting, for the Malvani Masala. by pepperhead212, on Flickr

All of the spices for Malvani Masala, ready to mix with just 2 tsp oil, to coat everything, before toasting them. by pepperhead212, on Flickr

Oiled spices for Malvani Masala, halfway through toasting. by pepperhead212, on Flickr

Toasted spices for Malvani Masala, cooling, before grinding. by pepperhead212, on Flickr

Finished Malvani Masala by pepperhead212, on Flickr
 

Badjak

Senior Cook
Joined
Dec 24, 2010
Messages
139
Sounds good!
I normally make a masala on the spot, but then I always make more, so I have some stock.
Not sure why I just don't make a lot in one go, but heck, it's what I do ;)
 

larry_stewart

Master Chef
Joined
Dec 25, 2006
Messages
5,209
Location
Long Island, New York
I also usually make them on the spot for specific recipes, always with left over. I forget to label them ( truth is I'm too lazy to label them, have way too much confidence that I'll remember what it is), then forget what the blend is when I'm cleaning out my cupboard.
 

taxlady

Chef Extraordinaire
Moderator Emeritus
Joined
Sep 13, 2010
Messages
28,793
Location
near Montreal, Quebec
I also usually make them on the spot for specific recipes, always with left over. I forget to label them ( truth is I'm too lazy to label them, have way too much confidence that I'll remember what it is), then forget what the blend is when I'm cleaning out my cupboard.
You could write the name on with a sharpie. It might rub off a bit if you write on glass. Depending on the plastic, you might be able to scrub it off, but rubbing alcohol will take it off. It's quicker than putting a label.
 

pepperhead212

Executive Chef
Joined
Nov 21, 2018
Messages
3,607
Location
Woodbury, NJ
@taxlady I have used fresh turmeric occasionally, usually in Malaysian or Indonesian recipes. I don't see many Indian recipes with the fresh. Here's a link with a few. The same blog has over 3,000 recipes with powder, and that shows up here, but if you click it, it shows the 17 fresh. I thought I'd posted wrong, but it just shows up wrong. Strange thing...
 
Last edited:

taxlady

Chef Extraordinaire
Moderator Emeritus
Joined
Sep 13, 2010
Messages
28,793
Location
near Montreal, Quebec
Thanks Dave. Are there any recipes that you particularly like that use fresh turmeric? Is there much difference in the taste?
 

pepperhead212

Executive Chef
Joined
Nov 21, 2018
Messages
3,607
Location
Woodbury, NJ
No, @taxlady, there's nothing in particular that really appealed to me that much that I would remember them, or something write the recipes in my book! I actually have some really old turmeric in the freezer, in a vacuum sealed bag, but I can't remember the last time I used it! The dried powder doesn't have as much flavor, and is pretty much unnoticeable, when cooked in a dish, but that's not a bad thing. The galangal, OTOH, I use in a lot of SE Asian dishes, in which it is essential fresh.
 

larry_stewart

Master Chef
Joined
Dec 25, 2006
Messages
5,209
Location
Long Island, New York
I used once, when following a recipe I saw on YouTube. It was ground into a paste. It has like the consistency of a carrot (when biting into it), and a watered down turmeric taste (which makes sense). Coincidentally, after reading this post a recipe from someone I follow, using fresh turmeric , was posted on my Facebook. Since Im going shopping later, I figured I'd give it a shot. Its a Malaysian Soup using a Malaysian curry paste (which calls for turmeric).

 

Badjak

Senior Cook
Joined
Dec 24, 2010
Messages
139
There are some nice Thai recipes of fish in coconut-turmeric sauce. It looks great and tastes very good as well.
But I agree, there is not that much difference between dried and fresh, unlike ginger and galangal, where the difference is enormous!

As to quick labelling: I use masking tape to go around the jar (so it sticks back on itself) and write on that
 

taxlady

Chef Extraordinaire
Moderator Emeritus
Joined
Sep 13, 2010
Messages
28,793
Location
near Montreal, Quebec
There are some nice Thai recipes of fish in coconut-turmeric sauce. It looks great and tastes very good as well.
But I agree, there is not that much difference between dried and fresh, unlike ginger and galangal, where the difference is enormous!

As to quick labelling: I use masking tape to go around the jar (so it sticks back on itself) and write on that
Putting the tape on a container is an extra step while labelling. It's also often extra work later, when you have to deal with getting leftover adhesive off the container.
 

pepperhead212

Executive Chef
Joined
Nov 21, 2018
Messages
3,607
Location
Woodbury, NJ
@taxlady That painter's tape comes off much easier than others, with no residue. It also holds in the freezer, so I never buy any of that freezer tape anymore, which always left a residue.
 
Top Bottom