Spices are, of course, an indispensible part of Indian cooking. Most of the spices in my masala dubba (spice box) are available at the grocery stores. They are, starting at the center left, cumin seeds, red pepper, turmeric, salt, coriander powder, cumin powder, and at the center are black mustard seeds. Now, while most of these spices are available at the grocery store, buying them there will break the bank. Much better to go to an Indian grocery store, where you can buy spices in bulk at rock-bottom prices. The bag of carom (ajwain) seeds on the left? Three dollars. The giant bag of high-quality garam masala? Five. The box on the right is amchur (dried mango) powder. While these are by no means the only spices I use in Indian cooking, they are the ones I use most commonly--especially the ones in the dubba.

So this little spice in English is called asafoetida. I prefer calling it by its Hindi name, which is hing. Much easier to say, right? This little powder packs a powerful punch, it is used often, but in small quantities.

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