With a staggering population of over 1.2 billion people, 330 million deities, dentist bristol and thousands of years’ worth of history, India is one of the most diverse and vibrant nations on earth. Following only China in terms of populous, 1 in 6 people in the world are currently living in India and speaking one of the estimated 21 official languages – although experts claim the number of languages spoken within India could actually reach the hundreds mark.
The cultural diversity and multitude of languages spoken within the country is matched only by the variety of their culinary output. Every region has a distinct taste unique to their community and perfected over generations. However, despite the differences in gastronomy, it is their love of spices that unifies them all. There is rarely a dish that requires anything less than at least two spices and Indian cooks are characteristically generous with the amount of spice used.
Having been used and enjoyed for more than 3,000 years, spices have become an integral part of Indian culture and cuisine. But striking the perfect balance between flavours is a challenge, even for the most experienced chef. From cinnamon to cardamom, its medicinal properties to its ability to enhance any dish; when used properly spices can have magical results.
If you’re looking to learn about India’s spice blends then look no further. Though you won’t find curry power on this list (or anywhere else for that matter) as it is a western concoction that is based on the flavours and never fully captures them. Come with us on a trip from Bengal to Bangladesh, from the Mughal empire to the mouth of the Ganges, on a culinary journey that will revolutionise your curry nights.
Garam masala: the types of spice used in this unique blend often vary greatly across the different regions of India. Typically however, they usually contain a combination of turmeric, peppercorns, cloves, cinnamon, cumin seeds and cardamom pods. The mixture of spices are roasted whole and then grounded together.
Sambar powder: traditionally, the spices used in this delicious blend are dried out in the heat of the Tamil sunshine. For this mixture, include: black peppercorns, mustard seeds, dry red chillies, turmeric power, coriander seeds, fenugreek (methi) seeds, chana dal and tuvar dal.
Panchphoran: for our final and tastiest blend, five separate spices are used in equal portions: fenugreek seeds, nigella seeds, cumin seeds, black mustard seeds and fennel seeds. The spices are not grounded. In Bengali, where the blend originates, the mustard seeds are occasionally replaced with radhuni, transforming the final flavour.
The basics of the recipe are easy to follow, but the key is knowing how to find the perfect balance and achieve harmony in taste. No one can master spice blends quite like an authentic Indian cook can, so if you would like to try it, you should go to one of London’s best Indian restaurants and sample the some of the finest spice blends available in the UK.