Spice of our lives! - Rachna cooks
Spice of our lives!

Spice of our lives!

For once, I am actually talking about just the humble masala that we put in our food and not some juicy gossip to brighten up our dull lives :). As times change, and we find better activities to engage us, we prefer to spend less time in the kitchen. My husband will vouch that I’d rather read a book or watch a movie than actually do some routine housekeeping around the house. The redeeming factor is that I do my own cooking and a pretty decent job at that with a lot of variety at each meal. That brings me to spices that are at the heart of an Indian meal. Spices are an inherent part of Indian cooking. We make special garam masala for our gravies, use chilly powder, turmeric, coriander powder, cumin powder, pepper on a daily basis along with our specialist masala like sambhar powder, chhole masala and many many more powder, masala and chutneys.

Now, just like so many other moms, I have started using packaged masala solely for the convenience angle. But, they really lack both on the freshness and taste front. To add to it, the risk of adulteration. I mean turmeric being bright yellow or the chatak red color of chillies got me inclined to grinding my own spices. I actually made turmeric powder from root turmeric (or khadi haldi easily available at your kirana store) and chilly powder from the regular dried red chillies that we use for tempering. And the turmeric was so very fragrant and tasty really. So was the chilly powder. It actually took me less than 15 minutes to make them, and it was totally worth the time and effort. I know it is not possible to do everything from scratch at home with our time constraints, but I felt this was worth finding the time for.

The homemade garam masala was also wonderful in its aroma. I wish you could have tasted my mutter paneer :). It really enhanced the taste and the flavor. Now I plan to make my own coriander powder, jeera powder and sambhar powder. Not only are they working wonders for the taste of my meal, they stay pretty fresh for at least a month. And, I know that I am not feeding adulterated powders in the name of spices to my family. If you don’t know a recipe, just google it and prepare your own masala.

Try it if you have never made homemade masala.

Image courtesy: http://ravirajspices.com

61 thoughts on “Spice of our lives!

  1. We often resort to readily available as we think its time consuming. But its not that very time consuming isnt it? And on top it all; its economical and unadulterated. Good you gave a try; motivates me as well.

    1. Absolutely agree, Insignia. Sometimes, we think that these activities are time consuming, but they are not that bad. Like you pointed out unadulterated and better tasting. Lets hope your experience is good too.

  2. What you have said is very true.One can make masala powders that are in regular use at home to last for a fortnight or month.What about those rare maslas that one uses occasionally.Buying them is easier.And again availability of time is an important determinant especially when both work.The weekends should not be spent in the kitchen in making these powders.The stress today is to outsource wherever possible so long the products are harmful.With acute competition, it is only quality manufacturers who can survive in the market.All said if you can make at home,nothing like that.

    1. Speciality masala can also be prepared at home because buying them would mean storing them for long where they become even more tasteless. Your point is correct that optimal balance must be struck by not spending all the time in the kitchen. But for those ladies who have a helper at home, it would really make sense to use them to clean roast the whole masala and then instruct them to grind that in a blender. That way the ladies can save their own precious time and yet eat healthy and tasty spices. I think packaged products can just not stand up to the homemade ones because of the freshness element. Have you tried the ready-to-eat foods that one gets in the market? They are quite bad all of them.

  3. I saw the color of your chole ,rich and beautiful.I do get annual supply of home made garam masala, chat masala ,dahi vada masala from my mom .Recently I tried my blogger friend Sandhya’s sambar masala recipe and it turned out great.I buy readymade jeera-dhania powder for my daily use and no one eats laal mirch so it is totally skipped.You now inspire me to make other masala at home :):)

    1. Thank you Kavita. And, you are so lucky to have your mom supply you the masala made with mom’s own love.Can you share the link of Sandhya’s sambar masala recipe, as I am trying to get a good recipe for that one. I have heard some bad stories about dhania-jeera powder from a lady whose husband is a wholesale dealer of spices. She says that for dhania powder, they normally just use the husk of dhania and mix it with a filler. I would say, dhania jeera is so much easier to make at home. Just roast and grind. Try doing that at home if possible.

  4. Ditto Rachna, I too make jeera, mirchi, haldi powder at home. They are much better if made at home. garam masala which I use less is bought. And ppl wonder what I do at home the WHOLE DAYBTW not able to comment on my wp account

    1. hehe I liked the part about what you are doing whole day! So nice that you make your own masala. I don’t know what the problem with blogger is, and why it is playing truant with you :(.

    1. Yes, try chilli powder and garam masala if you use that made at home. It really does taste so much better. And, I’ve got into the habit of using sambhar powder even for things like palak dal, so I am going to make that one too. Rasam powder I make fresh everytime. That is really very easy to whip up in a jiffy!

  5. Well make sure you make it when i turn up that way I can taste the paneer you made .. I use to put ready made masalla Now I have stopped Yeah , this time when i had come to india I bought myself one of those old crushers used in villages and I use separate masalla’s and you are right the taste is different then ready made ones .. But then usually when you have less time I guess the quick use makes you use all that. Although when someone comes from india my grandma does send me home made ones and they are definitely tastier and smell different then the best masalla makers here.. Bikram’s

    1. Of course, done about the paneer :). And, you are so lucky that grandma supplies you fresh masala. You are right, we reach for these when we are in a rush.

  6. Mmmm – I am imaging all the lovely smells and tastes. It is difficult for us to get hold of all the fresh ingredients here but like you I prefer to make everything from scratch. Those extra few minutes make all the difference to the taste – and what are we saving those few moments for? A longer sit down in front of the TV? Now if you could just send me over a sample of your cooking …

    1. Good logic — a few more minutes in front of the TV :). I wish I could send you a sample of my cooking. If you ever come down to India or if I to UK, I will call you.

  7. Even i used to make masalas at home, but now a days i don’t make all of them, for I have found good brands whose masalas taste very good and has the same fresh homemade taste. I stick to a brand whose north Indian masalas are really good , and as for the south Indian masalas, I also have one brand that is very authentic and also has no adulteration and tastes as good as home made, and also stays fresh for a long time.You are very right, none of these instant food are good, and they are not worth paying so much.

  8. Time and interest should meet together to do masalas at home. I would anyday prefer to prepare masalas as you mentioned above and I have been doing it. But, when there is time crunch, maybe I will compromise on taste.

  9. Well said… the aroma, the taste, the freshness… nothing can beat the masalas made at home. Hubby makes fresh garam masalas as per the recipe for his non-veg cooking always! I do dhania powder and red pepper… never tried haldi though!

    1. You should try haldi. The fresh one is so good. I cannot tell you how good it is ;-). And, it is easiest to prepare in our normal grinder just pound khadi haldi, no roasting needed either. And, how lucky that hubby makes garam masala :). Actually garam masala changes across recipes, so it is best to grind it fresh when making something special like biryani etc.

  10. My mom or MIL used to provide the sambar, rasam and other powders on regular basis. But as for garam masala or gravy or other south indian varities, I often try to grid my own. Yeah they taste so fresh and healthy. I would grind stuff that comes for about a month or two and refrigerate it – and it stays fresh. It actually doesn’t consume so much time. But I buy dhania, red chilli and turmeric powders from shop..now this post totally motivates me to grind them home! Reminded of the movie – The Mistress of Spices!!

    1. And, you said everything so aptly. It really does not take so much time if we plan in advance. Dhania and jeera require roasting and grinding. Haldi and chilly just grinding. Garam masala needs a little more time to have all ingredients in place. And so lucky to have mom or mil provide you with your masala. It does stay fresh for quite some time contrary to popular belief.

    1. No, sorry I don’t have the recipe for pickle masala. You can google it or try this blog; she has shared some South Indian recipeshttp://swaadhisht.blogspot.inI got her reference from Kavita.

  11. Cannot deny that freshly ground is better (and safer) than packets and that even veges from a farm are beautifully kawla (tender). We once tried raw peas from a friend’s farm. Sooo good! Unfortunately have to agree that the shop versions are more convenient. Another option could be to buy homemade masalas made by trusted neighbours and friends. Swear by some of those too!

    1. Yes, nothing like homegrown veggies too. But, one is often constrained by real estate in Indian cities. Trusted neighbours is a good options though I could not find anyone doing this in my neighborhood. I would willingly pay for the purity and quality of homeground spices.

  12. Zephyr at Cybernag.in wroteWhat a colourful post! and what a different one 🙂 I grind the spices too, but only since the last few years. Working, poor health and other hassles didn’t allow me the luxury of doing it earlier. But yes, it is purer and a darn sight cheaper too!

    1. Yes, different, just was excited in sharing something with other women like me. I know, we all worry about the time part of it, but I really think that simple ground spices like cumin, coriander, chilly, turmeric really are pretty quick. Those like garam masala might take more time, but you need to only do once a month, and it really is better tasting too. It is sometimes lethargy on our part. If we plan it, we can do it :).

    1. sounds too good!we jus make Garam masala frm scratch ..Rest is all store boxes ..but quality is too good,, trust me Cuz here in indian stores we get wide variety of masalas not only frm india ,pakistan but some Mediterranean masalas too..A huge big Variety..like seven spices my favourite ..But I can understand the home made fresh species and their aroma :)I do lot of cooking at home .. But spices frm scratch is lot of work ..here in US where there is no domestic help..

    2. Harman, I understand about the time bit. But, I have my doubts about the purity of the spices especially those packaged in India. Even otherwise, most packaged spices use fillers. Yes, we have better help here. But, this work I do myself. I just have a morning maid.

  13. I found it less interesting, may be because I am a male..But nowadays its time that men should also have to take equal commitment in kitchens..Perhaps I may use this post for my future..:)

  14. I hate using packaged masalas and feel most of them taste the same. Why risk adulterated powders, when you have a handy grinder at home!But haven’t tried home ground turmeric and chillies. Maybe I will.

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