From the Deccan Herald, Living, 26 November 2004

The subtle magic of spice
If you want the aroma of home ground spices pervading your house, check out these easy to try methods by PRAVEEN MULL.

As you enter an Indian home, you take inhale the aromas of freshly ground spices, and easily guess what’s cooking. Such is the magic of spices, and their importance in Indian cuisine. No wonder it is said “spices are the spice of Indian cuisine”.

In all, there are about 35 spices and condiments which are not only useful for providing flavour and aroma, but also possess nutritional and medicinal value. Retailer shelves are stacked with numerous ready made masalas in attractive packaging, making life easier for the busy working housewife of today. But, as any diehard Indian will vouch, the aromas and taste of freshly ground masalas, traditionally prepared as per our grandmother’s recipes and handed down from one generation to the next, are incomparable, be it the hot and spicy garam masala or the refreshing tea masala.

Here are recipes for some popular masalas:
Tea masala
Ingredients: 100 gms dry ginger (sonth), 25 gms cinnamon, 25 gms black pepper, 25 gms black cardamom, 25 gms green cardamom, 1 piece nutmeg (jaiphal), 1/2 tsp cloves.
Method: Grind the ingredients in a mixer. The resulting fine powder is your tea masala ready for making spiced tea. Store in an airtight jar.

Idli podi
Ingredients: 1 cup urad dal, 1 tablespoon chana dal, 15 whole red chillies, 1 teaspoon asafoetida, 1/4 cup sesame seeds, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 tablespoon til oil for frying.
Method: Take the til oil in a kadai, and fry the urad dal, chana dal, whole red chillies and sesame seeds, each separately. Mix all the ingredients, including salt and asafoetida. Grind coarsely and store in an airtight jar.

Garam masala
Ingredients: 100 gms cummin seeds, 2 tablespoons black cardamom seeds, 1 tablespoon green cardamom seeds, 25 gms cinnamon, 25 gms cloves, 25 gms black pepper, 4 pcs bay leaves.
Method: Mix all the ingredients. Roast the mixture in a kadai for 2-3 minutes, and grind in a mixie. The masala is ready. Store in an airtight jar.

Milk masala
Ingredients: 150 gms almonds, 50 gms pistachio, 25 gms green cardamom, half piece nutmeg (jaiphal), 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, 1/2 teaspoon saffron.
Method: Soak almonds in warm water, remove skin and dry thoroughly. Remove seeds from cardamom. Grind all ingredients in a clean mixer. The milk masala is ready.Store in an airtight jar.

Chaat masala
Ingredients: 4 tablespoons cummin seeds, 15 pcs whole red chillies, 2 tablespoons mango powder (amchur), 1 teaspoon black salt, 1 teaspoon common salt.
Method: Roast cummin seeds and red chillies on a hot tawa for three minutes. Grind the mixture. Add the other ingredients and mix well. Use this masala for fruit chaat or papdi chaat.

Dhanshak masala
Ingredients: 100 gms coriander seeds, 50 gms cummin seeds, half cup whole red chillies, 10 gms mustard seeds, 10 gms fenugreek seeds, 10 gms phool pathar, 10 gms black pepper, 10 gms cinnamon, 10 gms cloves, 10 gms bay leaves, half teaspoon mace (javitri), 1 nutmeg (jaiphal), 10 gms poppy seeds (khaskhas).
Method: Dry roast all the ingredients, and grind the mixture. Store in an air tight container.
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