Sunday, June 27, 2010

Spicy Powders From Indian Cuisine-1

Indian Cuisine is famous for its use of exotic spices in various combinations. Each region or State will use different combination of spices in different quantities. Cuisine of each region has its own identity like cooking practises, using of specific ingredients etc. For example one can identify cuisine from Kerala by usage of coconut oil and coconut. Similarly the recipes from Brahmin Kitchens, do not include heavy quantities of garlic or other spices as they mostly eat, vegetables, lentils etc. 

Spices are used for adding or enhancing taste of a dish. But they have many medicinal and curative properties. Our Grand mothers and mothers had many a kitchen remedy for health and beauty which have no side affects and are safe even for children.

Some of the spices used daily in our kitchens
Spices used in pickling

Now coming to the point, Spices are used as a whole or powdered after roasting or frying . In this series of posts, I am going to introduce to you the various powders used in India Kitchens. 

Spicy powders are called as "Podis" in Andhra- can be either used for :
  • Giving taste or seasoning- that is as a part of cooking for enhancing or adding that particular/specific taste to a particular dish or in pickles and chutneys. Like the Garam Masala, chilli powder, pepper powder, cardamom powder, Rasam Powder, Sambaar Powder etc. They ca also be used for stuffing vegetables etc.
  • There are one variety of powders like Kandi Podi, Senaga Podi, Nuvvu podi -used mainly in Andhra as an accompaniment to a main dish of  boiled or steamed rice or snacks like Idlis, dosas etc. These can be consumed directly in combination with main course.
I am going to post recipes of both the categories in my coming posts. So try them and enjoy. I will also be posting recipes of those spice powders which are used as remedies for health -general, for children for pre and post pregnancy, beauty care etc.

The ingredients used for these powder may be only spices like coriander seeds, fenugreek, mustard, cumin, fennel, caraway, nigella seeds, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, red chillies, garlic, ginger, dried ginger, black pepper  etc or these may be mixed with other ingredients like pulses or even vegetables.

Before preparing the powders:
  • Use always fresh ingredients. Using old ones will mar the taste.
  • Clean them thoroughly as they may contain small stones, sand or dust particles and other such things. These days we do get cleaned spices. But it is better to check them once.
  • It is better to sun them once either by directly placing them in the sun or in the shade to remove the moisture content for better storage. But too much sunning can also reduce their taste and colour.
  • If the recipe requires, the spices should be roasted or fried in oil. Experiment with different processes as taste will differ with different process. Cumin seeds powdered as it is and powdered after roasting tastes differently. 
  • When roasting ingredients, use a thick bottomed deep frying pan. Heat it first add the  ingredients etc and roast till they loose their raw taste and smell roasted. Roast each ingredient separately as roasting more than one ingredient may result in uneven roasting of some and burning of some. Keep stirring the ingredients while roasting so that they get roasted evenly without burning. 
  • Prepare small quantities of powders which can suffice for a fort night or maximum a month. The longer you keep them the staler they become.
  • If you are using them to season a dish, prepare them just before cooking the dish. However for daily use, we don't have any choice but to prepare and store in advance.
  • Store them in small air tight containers, preferably glass or plastic.
Keep watching my blog for many traditional recipes from the Kitchens of Andhra and other parts of India......

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