Sambal Terasi Spice Paste

Sambal Terasi Spice Paste

Sambal Terasi Spice Paste Recipe

Recently, I posted a recipe for Sambal Belacan, which is a chili based Malaysian Spice Paste incorporating Belacan, a Dried Fermented Shrimp product. Sambal Terasi is the Indonesian equivalent of this paste, with ‘Terasi’ being the Indonesian name for Belacan. This interpretation is a very basic one, using only 5 ingredients, and it is extremely fiery.

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Fenugreek a.k.a. Methi

Fenugreek a.k.a. Methi

Fenugreek a.k.a. Methi

The plant known as Fenugreek is widely used all over the Indian sub-continent, where it is known as Methi. All parts of the plant are used and it is consumed both as a vegetable, and also as an herb and spice seasoning in all sorts of recipes. It is till not commonly used by Western cooks, but it is becoming increasingly more widely available and is well worth investigating for use in your own recipes.

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Freshly made Sambal Belacan

Sambal Belacan Recipe

Many westerners are now familiar with the simple Chili Paste known as Sambal Oelek as it is available in supermarkets, and in many restaurants these days. This Sambal Belacan recipe is considerably more complex as it adds the Malaysian Dried Shrimp Paste known as Belecan, along with a host of other aromatic spices. It is perfect for use as a spice base in Malaysian style Curries, but is versatile enough to be used in a wide range of different dishes.

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Chili-Garlic-Ginger Paste

Chili-Garlic-Ginger Paste

Chili-Garlic-Ginger Paste Recipe

Chili, Ginger and garlic, are a trio that come together in all sorts of dishes and, in India especially, many cooks pre-make their own pastes from the ingredients and keep it on hand as a convenient time-saver. It is tremendously versatile, being used as-is or as the base for more complex spice blends, and it keeps very well indeed.

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Homemade Turmeric Paste

Homemade Turmeric Paste

Homemade Turmeric Paste Recipe

Making ready-to-use pastes out of ginger, garlic, chili peppers, or combinations thereof, is a fairly common practice in many kitchens, and Turmeric is well suited for this as well. If you are really only familiar with Turmeric as the bright Yellow Powder on your Supermarket shelf, but would like to explore it a little further, you may wish to read ‘Turmeric – An Introduction’ for a more detailed examination.

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Homemade Madras Curry Paste

Homemade Madras Curry Paste

Madras Curry Paste Recipe for Home-cooks

Indian spice blends, collectively known as ‘Masalas’, can be dry powders or ‘wet’ pastes. Typically, pastes are made by combining dry powdered spices with a liquid (vinegar especially) and then either using as is, or else storing after cooking the paste in oil until the blending liquid evaporates out.

I would say that I actually use pastes more often than powders when it comes to making Curries as they are convenient, and also add a nice tangy quality that Curry Powders generally don’t possess. The rich, red Curry Paste you see above uses my own Homemade Madras Curry Powder as a starting point, and is one of my favorite Masalas.

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Asafoetida a.k.a. Hing

Asafoetida a.k.a. Hing

Asafoetida a.k.a. Hing

Asafeotida is a somewhat obscure flavoring agent that is primarily associated with the cuisine of India, where it is most commonly known as ‘Hing’. The English name, Asafoetida, is derived from a combination of Persian and Latin roots and means, quite literally, ‘stinking resin’. This might not sound like the sort of thing one would really want for the spice cabinet but, in fact, despite a rather off-putting odor in the raw state, it can actually enhance many dishes once cooked.

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Homemade Madras Curry Powder

Homemade Madras Curry Powder

Homemade Madras Curry Powder

In years past, a ‘Madras Curry’ was a standard item on Indian restaurants in the West, and the typical blend of spices used these dishes combine to produce what many people think of as being the quintessential ‘Curry’ flavor. Indeed, most of the generic ‘Curry Powders’ available on supermarket shelves, are largely milder derivatives of the traditional Madras Curry blend.

Nowadays, Madras Curries are not seen quite as often on restaurant menus anymore, which is probably because the City of Madras is now named Chennai, and also because the eponymous curry was probably more of an Anglo-Indian, rather than a purely Indian creation. Whatever the case, the Madras Curry is still something of a classic and well worth adding to one’s culinary repertoire. You can use a commercially prepared Madras Curry Powder for such dishes, of course, but blending the spices oneself is more satisfying and allows for improvisation.

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Turmeric in several forms

Turmeric in several forms
Turmeric in several forms

Turmeric- An Introduction to an Essential Spice

Most westerners are only familiar with Turmeric as the bright yellow powder on the spice shelves at their local supermarket, but most will have tasted it at one time or another. It is a regular ingredient in many commercial Curry Powders, of course, and it is commonly used to add taste and color to many preparations of mustard, including the neon yellow variety routinely slathered on hot dogs and hamburgers.

The spice is used extensively in many cuisines, most notably in India (where it would be impossible to compile a list of dishes in which it appears), and it is also widely used throughout southern Asia and the Middle East. It is available in several different forms, aside from the ubiquitous powder, and it is well worth leaning how to purchase and use this very versatile ingredient. 

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Galingale Curry Paste

Galingale Curry Paste

Recently I introduced the Indonesian rhizome known as Galanga (aka Galingale) and, here, I have put together a spice blend that captures the basic character of the typical sorts of curry pastes used in South-east Asia, while show-casing the particular qualities of this exotic spice ingredient. The other aromatics I am using in this blend would be at home in both Thai, Malaysian and Indonesian curry recipes and can thus be used as a general-purpose base for a wide range of home-made curries.

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