Hey friends, welcome to Gourmet Gyan. Let me take you into my world of food, flavour, taste, feel and aroma. Every week, I am going to share some ‘gyan’ with you about interesting culinary stories, facts, thoughts and views and recommendations so that you will never stay hungry. So, get ready to be fed very well. This week we are going to talk about getting spiced up. Spice is the variety of life, especially for us Indians. Each and every inch of the country’s cuisine plays with spices in different combinations and permutations to create a distinctive dish or a character of one’s cuisine.
In Eastern India, mustard plays a big role in cooking, and in the South, curry leaves are almost found in every dish. Look at our stores, there’s every kind of masala, which is actually a combination and ratio of different spices blended together.
Similarly, there is a whole world out there which uses spices in different ways, creating new flavours, and I think that some of them can give a new dimension to our cuisine and repertoire of flavours.
Zaatar: A versatile spice used to flavour chicken, meat and even bread in the Middle East, it’s a mix of thyme, sesame seeds, oregano, marjoram and others. If sprinkled on our naan or a crisp khulcha, can lend a wow factor.
Sumac: A red coloured spice, it comes from a bark of a tree and has a very subtle sourness. It can be easily mixed into our onion tomato kachumbar; the sumac can replace the acid/ lemon juice in it.
Dukkah: A roasted and coarsely ground mix of chana, cumin seeds, peppercorns, coriander seeds and hazelnuts, it’s used to dip pita bread. Imagine coating a nice piece of marinated paneer, then shallow frying or baking it; it can lend a totally new flavour.
Chillies from Mexico: There are so many, and each of them lends different flavours such as smokiness, pungency, and more. You can easily use chipotle chillies into a paste to marinate meats, fish, poultry and veggies.
Black garlic from Korea and China: Fermented garlic, it’s jet black, and very garlicky and sweet. Imagine using it in a tadka for your dal or puree in your lasun ki chutney. Wow. What a colour.
Grains of Paradise: It’s an alternative to black pepper. A native from Africa, these are dried seeds and not berries. They were used as a cheaper substitute to black pepper, which was very expensive. They are peppery but have the woodiness of a forest and a hint of cardamom as well.
Let your imagination run wild as you look for these. Add some more spice in your life.