Sunday, December 3rd, 2017
I love to teach you to cook Indian food, spices are the trickiest part of cooking Indian food, so I spice especially for you.
Have 30+ spices, use them up quick, roast this one, grind that one…keep this one whole, confused, I haven’t even started to talk about spicing yet.
The solution is for me to spice on your behalf. For my clients, to enjoy their cooking journey and for me to do what I love, spicing from scratch is key. I don’t feel there’s a compromise with the spicing.
Let’s start with the Curry Masala.
Innovative spicing at its’ best, my first ever spice blend that I created.
Our mums and many Indian restaurants have a stock base, fried onions, ginger, garlic, turmeric, chillies and garam masala. In our homes, it is known as thorkar or tarka.
When I make a curry, I throw in a whole heap of extras, roasted cumin seeds, methi, paprika.
It becomes a fabulous base, adding extra chilli, salt, cream, butter, coconut milk etc brings it to life. This base can be a jalfrezi, korma, tikka masala, rogan josh, passanda… a simple curry.
Use the pouch, add a (chefs) pinch of salt…. no nasties, just natural spices. Gluten free and low in sugar and salt. The perfect curry creator. Don’t like frying onions? Try the butter chicken recipe, homemade delicious curry in about 45 minutes. It’s become my number one requested curry.
Naturally, home-made, roasted and ground by me. A classic Punjabi home blend, buy in small quantities, add to your omelette, cheese on toast, scrambled eggs, roast chicken. It’s the Indian equivalent of black pepper.
Try it in your Christmas bakes, I kid you not. If you have a lovely home blend, then a little, incy bit goes a very longggggg way. My garam masala is a cumin and coriander seeds, dalchini, black and green cardamom, cloves, black pepper, nutmeg and bay leaves, cleaned, roasted, ground with a little texture, a lot of love, by me, in my home kitchen.
The mother of all Indian spice blends and the Punjabis bring Garam Masala to life. It’s the base of the chaat, curry, cardamom Kick, Tandoori so if using those blends, no need to add this again. It’s so versatile, use it raw, cook it, the top tip is just a pinch.
Tandoori Masala When Josh Donachie (Professional Masterchef) messaged me to make some tandoori masala up, I nearly cried. I was terrified of him finding out that I am a home cook. I hadn’t realised or understood that I could create blends, really special blends with very little effort.
It took me 9 months to gather the courage to make this blend for my business. It’s so good. My first attempt was too spicy, but once I had toned the chilli down, we were good to go.
I have the greatest respect for Josh, I am so glad he asked me as it’s become one of my classics.
Use the pouch, a little tip, just the tandoori masala with a glug of oil, a pinch of salt, on your boiled potatoes before you roast them. You will be hooked, such a fresh, natural spice blend and a little squeeze of lime to finish, perfect. The only effort will be to peel the potatoes unless you buy baby ones!
Chaat Masala Very popular with street traders, one of the greatest way to add zing, sweetness and sour to your salads, dips and tandoori dishes. A finisher, a secret spice blend that I lovingly share with you, use a pinch, doesn’t need cooking.
Cardamom Kick Originally, this was Liam Tinsley’s blend, the first blend I ever made to impress a chef. The original had pink salt in it, very special but the salt had to go and the blend had to be recognisable for my clients who will grow to love this one. It’s a curry creator without any ginger or garlic in it. Floral but bold, spicy, too. Really special with a Green Cardamom Kick, try it, please.
Last but not least, CHEF CRUSH my dear friend and brilliant local chef, was frying a steak online and I thought I will create chef crush for that steak. It’s pretty magic, works like a stock and doesn’t taste necessarily Indian so I use it in pasta, soups, every day cooking. Crushed coriander, fennel, black pepper, cumin and chilli flakes. It’s really quite good! The best seasoning for pakoras and rice, honestly.
Hope you have enjoyed my Sunday treat and trip into the Spice blends for Day 3 of Yule enjoy a little spice. Happy Spicing!
Lajina Leal, Founder, Lajina Masala
Lajina had a Corporate Career as an Accountant for many years and whilst discussing an impending redundancy in an Indian restaurant with her friends, they persuaded her to set up an Indian Cooking School.
The fun started in October 2013 and the business has grown from strength to strength.