The Vegan MoFo 2017 week 2 challenge is to describe vegan cooking behind the scenes. This covers all appliances, tips and tricks, secret ingredients a.k.a. spices. Every time I get my spice box (“Dabba” in Hindi) my children seem to think the food magically transforms from bland and plain to, colourful and flavourful “get in my mouth now” food! Indian cooking does rely on a myriad of spices wet and dry. Spices range from carefully preserved & dried to freshly picked off the plant.
All spices contain active ingredients by way of essential oils that offer typical flavours to the food. These active constituents are one of the key reasons spices are so good for our health in small quantities. Dry roasting spices before adding them to a recipe definitely helps bring up the spice quotient. I do tend to make small quantities of dry spice powder combinations that are used everyday such as Garam Masala and Kitchen King Masala that are stored in airtight glass jars in the fridge (please click on the spice powders for the recipes). Here’s a glimpse into my spice box holding some of the spices I use in my daily cooking. I tend to store turmeric in a glass jar to prevent staining, both in powder and paste forms, made from dried or fresh turmeric root pieces.
The main spices that live in my Spice Rack/ Masala Dabba (Hindi),
- Sea Salt (Namak) – I prefer sea salt as it is not as processed as table salt.
2. Black Peppercorn (Kali Mirch) – Contains “Piperine” as an active ingredient. Usually bought as dried berries.
3. Green Cardamom pods (Choti Elaichee) – The third most expensive spice in the world after vanilla & saffron, and one of my personal favorites for savoury & sweet dishes.
4. Black Mustard Seeds (Rai) – Contain essential oils Sinigrin & Myrosin which impart a typical mustard flavour.
5. Coriander Seeds (Dhania ke Beej) – Contains essential oil Linalool accounting for the distinctive flavour. Untreated (not radiated) coriander seeds can also grow into fresh coriander plants for a kitchen garden.
6. Carom Seeds (Ajwain) – Contains essential oil Thymol, which is known to be a germicide and helps with flatulence.
7. Cumin Seeds (Jeera) – Contains Thymoquinone, cumin seeds range from black to brown and are prized in Indian cooking for their slightly lemony undertones mixed with a warm nutty flavour.
8. Fenugreek Seeds (Methi) – Contains Trigonelline, and are commonly used in Indian pickles. The flavour is slightly sweet, with bitter & nutty undertones. Used commonly in Indian cooking as seeds and leaf forms, (both dried and fresh).
I hope this little incursion into my Masala Dabba is interesting and inspiring. I would love to know your favorite spices in the comments below 😊