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kiran's Indian Kitchen

There's nothing worse than stale spices!

Freshly ground spices are just as essential as any other fresh ingredient.
I recommend investing in a spice grinder, commonly known as coffee grinder.
They are inexpensive and a must-have tool in any Indian kitchen. I keep all my
whole spices in old mason jars I collect from tag sales and antique stores, and
I store them in a cool dark cupboard or pantry. I grind only as much as I need,
to ensure maximum flavor.

Purh Nanimas air-tight stainless steel spice tin
I store all my favorite ground spices in my spice tin. Not only is it functional it is beautiful too--a large, round stainless steel container with a lid with seven small stainless steel cups that fit neatly inside. I love the convenience of my spice tin
when ever I’m cooking--all I have to do is pull out the tin and all my treasured
spices are fresh and ready to go! To purchase your very own spice tin-check out

my shop page.

Filling the spice tin: Seven essentials

Tin cup 1: Turmeric -- I adore the gold color and its mild fragrance is reminiscent of orange and ginger -- warm and peppery with a slightly bitter flavor. I use a dash
of this spice in absolutely everything.  In fact Indian women love to bathe in it! Turmeric has powerful anti-inflammatory properties, is a natural antioxidant,
lowers cholesterol and protects against Alzheimer's disease. An excellent source
of both iron and manganese as well as vitamin B6, dietary fiber and potassium.

Tin cup 2: Cayenne Pepper -- An excellent source of vitamin A, C & B6. A potent antioxidant, fights inflammation, prevents stomach ulcers and has cardiovascular benefits. Boosts immunity clears congestion - give it a try next cold and flu season. A little bit goes a long way...

Tin cup 3: Whole Coriander Seeds-- A fragrant flavor that’s reminiscent of both citrus peel and sage. I suggest using whole seeds rather than the ground powder which tends to loose its flavor much faster. Coriander is also called cilantro and contains an antibacterial compound. Controls blood sugar, cholesterol and free radical production. Improves digestion and also good for migraine headaches.

Tin cup 4: Whole Cumin Seeds -- Peppery with slight citrus overtones, considered to be an aphrodisiac. The scent of cumin when it hits a pan of hot oil is pure intoxication. No wonder it is recognized as a symbol of love and fidelity! Not too mention a very good source of iron and a great digestive too.

Tin cup 5: Combination of Cloves and Whole Green Cardamon Pods -- Incredibly aromatic - a combination of camphor, eucalyptus, orange peel and lemon. Ancient Egyptians chewed cardamom to whiten teeth and simultaneously sweeten the breath. Aids indigestion and flatulence. A great remedy for celiac disease.
Cloves are warm, pungent and aromatic. Extremely strong--use sparingly.
Contains antioxidants, a mild anesthetic as well as an antibacterial agent.
Very good source of vitamin C and omega-3, fatty acids, calcium and magnesium.

Tin cup 6: Mustard Seeds -- Grand things can grow from tiny actions...Jesus compares the kingdom of heaven to a mustard seed. The mustard plant grows to a large size, providing shelter for birds. Either yellow or dark brown are what I prefer to use.
When added to hot oil and allowed to pop become deliciously nutty and sweet.

Tin cup 7: Purh Nanimas Garam Masala -- Every Indian family has their own secret blend of garam masala, a combination of cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, cumin, coriander and pepper. Just before serving sprinkle a teaspoon or two of this exotic elixir and enjoy!


Kitchen equipment

Cast iron skillet - this item is imperative! Nothing browns onions quite like cast iron, plus this is the very best skillet for making paranthas. Available at any hardware store, reasonably priced and worth every penny.

Large stone mortar & pestle - this is another tool I could not live without!
Don’t bother buying wood, or the pretty porcelain set. Get rock, lava or stone.
This is another tool worth the investment. Whole spices like cardamom and cloves can be tough and a stone pestle will crush and grind to perfection in seconds.

Spice grinder- a coffee grinder designated just for grinding spices only--
unless you like garam masala coffee!

Le Crueset cookware -- my favorite cookware from stove top to oven to table! However, any good, heavy bottomed cookware will work.

Last but not least--A good set of sharp knives and a rolling pin!


Oils: to ghee or not to ghee...

My Mum hardly ever used ghee for for everyday use, preferring to use a healthier unsaturated fat such as vegetable, canola or grapeseed oil. Don’t get me wrong,
they love the flavor of ghee, and for really special occasions or every once in a
while mum will use ghee when making paranthas or sautéing onions. I have to
agree--they’re utterly sublime that way.

My cooking oil of choice is full olive oil or grape seed oil. Please use only pure olive oil and not extra virgin olive oil, these are two very different oils with varying cooking temperatures. To use a good virgin olive oil for sautéing onions is really a waste--extra virgin olive oil burns away very quickly whereas pure olive oil lasts a lot longer and has a higher smoke point. Save your extra virgin for salad dressings and quick marinades where its flavor will be maximized. I like to use pure olive oil with several pats of unsalted butter for flavor -- and still manage to keep my waistline, some what!!


Quick Tips: I love to freeze everything!

Mince a handfull of ginger in your food processor. Place it in a zip-lock freezer bag, flatten it with your fingers and then place it in your freezer compartment. After it freezes simply snap off a piece and presto! Add it to your tarka, muffin batter, cookie recipe or even a nice cup of masala chai....

What to do with unused tomato paste? Freeze it! Scoop it out on to a sheet of plastic wrap, roll it up into a sausage and pop it in the freezer. When you need
to use some, simply slice a chunk and continue cooking.



Himalayan Pink Salt --Adding salt will completely transform food, commanding all the nuance, flavor and structure that would otherwise be lacking. The varieties of
salt are endless but my preferred salt of choice at the moment is Himalayan Pink Salt. A fossil marine salt from the foothills of the Himalayas, this salt obtains its pretty pink speckled color from the natural richness derived from iron and other minerals, containing over 74 trace minerals. It maintains its natural purity because it is unrefined and uses no additives and no pollutants. Its subtle crunch and incomparable taste will delight your senses.

Living in upstate New York I’ve become extremely fond of Habaneros and Scotch bonnet chilies--they are used a lot in Caribbean dishes and I prefer to use them exclusively. Other favorite vegetables are Vidalia onions and Yukon Gold potatoes. There are many varieties to choose from, and selecting your favorites will make
these dishes uniquely your own. Another personal favorite are fire-roasted canned tomatoes, when fresh tomatoes are not in season. Glen Muir make exquisite
canned ones.













Where to Buy:

Indian Grocers
& Suppliers

Saraswati Groceries
Ready to tutor customers about Indian cookery supplies and preparation, sari-clad co-owner Dipika Patel whirls among stock at this compact, family-run Indo-Pak wholesale store, special-izing in spices, select fresh vegetables, and instant foods. 1299 Route 9, Wappingers Falls, (845) 297-9203.

Kalustyan's Orient Express
Aziz Osmani's landmark fine and specialty foods store features 4,000 varieties of spices, dozens of legumes, teas, and other select Indian and Middle Eastern gourmet items. Browse nearby Indian grocers located in the same vicinity. 123 Lexington Avenue, Manhattan, (212) 685-34551.