Untoasted and Toasted Spice Blend
In this unusual masala, some of the spices are toasted and some not, which is typical of everyday Kashmiri cooking. Most of the spices in this mélange are aromatics and it is sprinkled in meat, poultry, vegetable, and legume curries as a finishing blend, usually toward the end of the cooking.
Total Timeunder 15 minutes
Make Ahead RecipeYes
Taste and Texturespiced
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 2 cinnamon sticks (each 3 inches long), broken into smaller pieces
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon black cumin seeds
- ½ teaspoon whole cloves
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 4 blades mace, or ¼ teaspoon ground mace
- Seeds from 4 black cardamom pods
Preheat a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add the cumin and cinnamon, and toast, shaking the skillet every few seconds, until the cumin seeds turn reddish brown, the cinnamon sticks appear brittle, and the mixture is highly fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes.
Immediately transfer the nutty-smelling spices to a plate to cool. (The longer they sit in the hot skillet, the more likely it is that they will burn, making them bitter and unpalatable.) Once they are cool to the touch, place them in a spice grinder or coffee grinder, add all the remaining spices, and grind until the texture resembles that of finely ground black pepper.
Store the dark brown spice blend in a tightly sealed container, away from excess light, heat, and humidity, for up to 2 months. (In my opinion, refrigerating the blend adversely affects its flavors.)
2008 Raghavan Iyer