Monday, June 23, 2014

Panch Phoron or Bengali 5 Spice Mixture

Panch Phoron or Bengali 5 Spice
Bengali is the language spoken by the people of Bangladesh and in the state of Bengal in India. 

Known in Bengali as panch phoron (panch=5 & phoron=tempering), this mixture of spices comprises equal quantities of black mustard (shorshe/sarson/rai) seeds, cumin seeds, fennel seeds, fenugreek seeds and nigella (kalo jeera/kalonji) seeds. Panch phoron is used for tempering Bengali vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes.  

Randhuni or Wild Celery Seeds
In the more traditional panch phoron, randhuni (wild celery seeds) is used in place of black mustard seeds.The latter are more readily available than randhuni which is difficult to procure outside the state of Bengal in India. 

Roasted panch phoron powder is used to flavor vegetarian dishes and as a garnish in those same dishes as well as in chutneys, such as Tomato Date Chutney and raitas, such as Fuji Apple Raita. Take a tablespoon of each of the 5 spices and toast them in a dry skillet until fennel seeds turn brown and mustard seeds turn white. Grind to a coarse powder in a coffee grinder. This lovely, fragrant spice must be cooled and stored in an airtight bottle. It will remain fragrant anywhere from 6 months to a year.

Empty McCormick's spice bottles make great storage containers for my whole and powdered Indian spices. The bottles and lids are washed in the dishwasher, allowed to air-dry overnight and saved for this purpose. A label-maker comes in handy to help identify the contents of these recycled bottles.

It's a good idea to keep a coffee grinder specifically for grinding spices, but if you have to use it for grinding coffee as well, here's an effective way of cleaning the grinder and removing the aroma of spices. Empty the coffee grinder and clean both chamber and lid thoroughly with a paper towel. Add a teaspoon of Arm & Hammer baking soda to the grinder and pulse several times. Empty the baking soda into the sink and clean the chamber of the grinder and the lid thoroughly with a paper towel. Keep the lid off overnight to air the chamber of the grinder and it should be ready to grind coffee beans.

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