The Big Mouth is my food blog (where I do not post anymore but it still gets a ‘like’ a week on FB to keep it alive!) which details my culinary experiences when I had a well-stocked kitchen to my disposal. I hope to return to it someday in the future when I get my kitchen back. As of now, I am posting some of the blog entries of Big Mouth here for my sitophilic readers.
Blog date: March 3, 2012
A Trip Down Spice Lane/ the Spice Girls
A section of the New Market in Calcutta is dedicated to spices alone. And you can find any spice or powder or combination of spices in this spice lane. It is an intoxicating experience for your nose, as you are constantly hit with numerous aromas, strong and subtle, overbearing attars, and colourful condiments. It is one of my favourite walking spots in the city.
A word or two about spice combinations from across the world –
In India, a common spice combination is the Garam Masala or the Hot Spice, which is a lovely blend of black & white peppercorns, cloves, mace, cumin seeds, cardamom pods, nutmeg, star anise, and coriander seeds.
Allspice or All spice, is actually fruit, used in the Central American, Jamaican, and Mexican regions. The English thought that the flavour was derived from a combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Hence, the name. The fruit is originally called Pimento.
The Chinese Five Spice powder is a lovely balanced combination of star anise, cloves, cinnamon, Sichuan pepper, and ground fennel seeds. The pepper can be substituted with common black pepper. I have tried doing that myself and the difference was not very distinct. A plea: Give up ajinomoto.
The Lebanese Seven Spices is a personal favourite. The Seven Spices are used in the Middle East extensively in meat dishes and stews. It includes black pepper, cumin, paprika (can be substituted with ground chilli flakes), coriander, cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, and cardamom. The ratios are easily available online.
Amongst a range of Mughlai spices which are extensively used these days, a personal favourite of mine is the Nihari Masala used for the Nihari meat preparation. The spice combination is extremely soft and distinct, used to cook mutton shanks for a lovely breakfast stew. The Nihari style mutton is the national dish of Pakistan! P.S. – Check out the national dishes of various countries on Wikipedia. UK will be a shocker!
Image courtesy: Google Images