Wednesday, June 29, 2011

the spice rack

A little confession...I am not a chef and I don't own any cook books. So why am I writing a blog you ask. Well, I am a foodie especially of homemade food. My recipes usually come from my two grandmothers, internet,  food shows, friends, and most of the times from my own creative experiments. I try to jot down the recipes I like on tiny pieces of paper and quite quickly forget about them, both the recipes as well as the paper. So I have finally decided to e-jot them and rely on blogger to go back to them when I feel like.

My husband calls me the weekend chef, since that's the only time I seem to find myself in the kitchen lately. After being married for 8 years now, I do belive that I make stuff that is edible enough for him to stay married to me. Both my grandmothers were amazing cooks and as a kid I had no reason to enter the kitchen except to taste their yummy concoctions. But I am sure (atleast I hope) some genes must have travelled through.

My kitchen is just about 40sft and I have no special equipment other than a blender, toaster oven and hand held mixer. No food processor, no ice cream maker or any of those fancy scmancy something makers. Heck, I don't even have a grill and I cook on an electric range. So if I can cook, you can too. So stop making excuses and get to it.

Most people I know here in Los Angeles love Indian food, but are too intimidated to make it themselves. I don't blame them. Here's the thing...It all comes down to this: Spices!!! The aromatics and the heart of all Indian food. Everything else is just everyday ingredients. Here is a list of spices I have catagorized to ease you into the experience.

Everyday basic must haves:
Cumin (whole and powder)
Garlic root
Cayenne Pepper
Coriander Powder*
Black Mustard Seeds*
Garam Masala (recipe below)*
Turmeric Powder*
Kari Leaves*

Good To have:
Coriander seeds*
Aseofotida (or devil's dung!! haha)*
Fenugreek (whole and dried leaves)*
Tamarind paste*
Cinnamon Sticks (or Powder)
Black Pepper
Dry Bay Leaf
Fresh Mint

Not necessary (but some recipes ask for them)*
Anise seeds
Star Anise
Raw Mango Powder
Onion Seeds
Ground Ginger

* Spices you might not find in your regular grocery store

So there you have it. It's not so bad now, is it? Most of the spices you get in your own grocery store. For others, I recommend you invest in them. They are reasonably priced and last a long time. So go and make yourself some delicious and spicy Indian food. BTW, there is more to Indian food than Chicken Tikka Masala, Saag Paneer and Naan, people!!!

Here is a quick recipe for garam masala. Although I won't hold it against you if you buy the box mix.

Makes about 4-5 tbsp of Garam Masala

1 tablespoon Cumin Powder
1/2 tablespoon Coriander Powder
1 1/2 teaspoons Cardamom Powder
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground Pepper
1 teaspoon Cinnamon Powder
1/2 teaspoon Ground Cloves
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated Nutmeg

Optional Ingredients
1 large dried Bay Leaf (crushed)
1/2 teaspoon dry Ginger Powder

Mix and store in an airtight container. Done!

- if you chose to use whole spices instead of spice powders. Roast them for about 2 mins. Grind in a spice or coffee grinder and store.

Have Fun! And I hope you enjoy my new blog as much as I love posting it.


  1. Fantastic. I love the name of this blog. And very chic too.

  2. I was lucky to taste it, soooo good

  3. It's about time. I have had the pleasure of tasting your cooking and it is goooood! Now everyone will know what I have known for years. I can't wait to read and try more.

  4. Super! I know you wanted to do this for a long time. Good Luck!

  5. I think we now need a good cardamom chai mix recipe up. Just as an ode to the cardamom junkies of the world!
    Fabulous blog. Congratulations! May more delicious adventures be shared.


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