Every Indian household will have one of these – A steel tin with a number of round compartments, each filled with a delicious spice that gives our curries their wonderful fragrant flavour. Every dish starts with this little tin. Here’s a picture of mine, and I’ll take you through each ingredient.
First up is Rai (Black Mustard Seeds). These tiny little black seeds are added into hot Thel (Oil) right at the beginning of most curries and add a nutty flavour.
Jeeru (Cumin) has an earthy, smoky flavour and is also added directly to the oil to help release its flavours into the dish.
Dhana Jeeru (Ground Coriander and Cumin) adds a warm, slightly tangy flavour. I love this stuff so generally add it in heaped teaspoons.
Haldar (Turmeric) is known for its medicinal properties and bright yellow colour. It has a bitter, peppery flavour. Don’t get this stuff on anything white though, it’s also used as a dye and will stain almost anything!
Lal Chutney (Red Chilli Powder) adds the kick to any curry with its fiery flavour. I sometimes swap this for fresh chillies, depending on the dish or what’s available.
Nimak (Salt) is a staple across all cultures and as one of the primary basic human tastes, is used to add balance and depth of flavour.
Garam Masala (Ground Spice Mix) is a blend of a number of spices with ratios that often vary family to family but ready-made garam masala spice mixes can be found in most supermarkets.