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How to Make Sense of Indian Spices

gig2Taco Bell packets and crushed red pepper can only get us so far (and pretty far, we have to admit). However, in this red hot video we’re going to try and move beyond the leftover packets and onto something a little more complex. Grab your notepads as we do a deep dive into that familiar circular tin can so we can help you make sense of these oh-so-complicated spices.

Bare-Bones Must Have:

  • Spices
  • Circular Tin Can
  • Small Spoon (though pinching will suffice)

How To Make Sense of Indian Spices:

Black Mustard Seeds (Rai):
These tiny, black round balls are used in a variety of dishes such as sambar. You may remember your mom throwing these suckers into some hot oil followed by a loud, cracking sound.

Cumin Seeds or Powder (Jeera):
Bearing an earthy, slightly bitter flavor, jeera is sprinkled, either in powder or whole seed form, to dishes like rice and channa masala. And lucky you, it has ayurvedic properties that can calm the digestive system.

Cayenne Powder (Mirchi):
This bright red powder can be added to most Indian dishes to add heat and color. If you’ve ever accidentally breathed in this spice, it was probably followed by a coughing or sneezing fit, so remember a little bit really does go a long way.

Turmeric Powder (Haldi):
Ah, turmeric. You may remember your mom either adding this into food, or smearing it on your face, or even telling you to swallow a spoonful with water for whatever sickness you may have had. Great for your for your health, but bad for your clothes.

Coriander Powder (Dhania):
Coriander powder is made from cilantro. You may recognize it from dishes like aloo gobi or samosa. If you’re feeling super adventurous, try planting rows of coriander seeds in a planter box and growing your own at home!

Cinnamon (Dharchini):
While you might think of cinnamon mostly for hot drinks on a cold winter night, in Indian food it can be added to most savory dishes. Cinnamon sticks are generally added at the beginning of a recipe. Most often mixed into hot oil, the cinnamon makes a flavourful oil into which food is cooked. It offers a sweet, yet warm, aroma so many people add cinnamon when making masala chai as well!

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