Posted in Spicery

Spice: Curry Leaves

I have been waiting a long time to try cooking with this particular item as I have countless recipes in my Indian cookery book collection that make use of these interesting leaves. Last summer, I found some in a grocery store in Ottawa but, unfortunately, by the time I got the leaves home they had blackened on me and I had to chuck them out. Just the other day though, I found them in or local store and I just had to buy them. I was a little reluctant to do so as I am currently only a few days away from another weeklong trip on Court circuit and, as noted, I know from bitter experience already that these things do not have a very long shelf life. Luckily though, Tahmina over at Kolpona Cuisine tells me that they can be frozen successfully so I’ll do that with the bulk of my purchase, have the remainder to have a look at and, maybe if time permits, even try a quick culinary experiment… Continue reading “Spice: Curry Leaves”

Posted in Recipes, Spicery

Spice Blend: Chili Garlic Ginger Paste

Chili, Ginger and garlic, are a trio that come together in all sorts of dishes and, in Indian cookery 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 Masalas, and it keeps very well indeed. Most recipes you come across suggest that it will keep anywhere from a week to a month (or longer frozen, of course) but, if a little salt (or sometimes vinegar) is added, it will last for ages. I actually have some in my fridge right now that is pushing six or eight months in age and, although the color has faded just a little it still tastes great. Still, the original fresh taste of the chili has diminished a bit and I thought it time that I made a new batch and share the process with my readers… Continue reading “Spice Blend: Chili Garlic Ginger Paste”

Posted in Spicery

Spice: Black Cardamom

Cardamom is not a common addition to most home spice cabinets. It comes in two closely related varieties: the green (which most people will have at least tasted at some time or another), and the black variety, which is larger and far less well known in western cookery. Green cardamom, although not widely recognized, is used in quite a few bakery products, especially in Scandinavia, and it is likely in these types of products that most people will have encountered it.

When I was growing up, green cardamom was used quite frequently in our house, especially in my father’s biryanis, but I was probably in my thirties before I discovered the black variety. It is unfortunate that that this spice is not very well known because it has a unique taste that works nicely in quite a number of different preparations… Continue reading “Spice: Black Cardamom”

Posted in Spicery

Spice: Sichuan Peppercorns

Although they look a little like black peppercorns, Sichuan peppercorns are not actually of the pepper family at all, but are rather the dried berry of a tree in the prickly ash family. The spice will be very familiar to aficionados of Sichuan cuisine but, aside from this, and the fact that it is a fairly standard addition to  Chinese five-spice powder, it is not commonly used, or even that widely recognized in the west. In cookery books, particularly older ones, it is often called ‘fagara’ or ‘prickly mountain-ash’, but one does occasionally see it referred to as ‘Chinese pepper’, or by the Japanese name ‘Sansho’. Continue reading “Spice: Sichuan Peppercorns”