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Friday, January 25, 2019

Salad Dressings are Quick and Easy

There are so many salad dressings on the market. And so many unnecessary ingredients add in. It is scary to read labels these days. The lists are endless. MSG in in most of them. Another staple of commercial dressings is Xanthan Gum. And then there is that nicely vague ingredient: modified food starch! For me, if the ingredient has been "modified" enough to be able to withstand temperatures that it would not normally be able to withstand, or thicken in a way that it would not normally thicken - well then, to me, that is no longer a "food," nor healthy. And really, when half, or more than half of the ingredients in a store bought salad dressing are things you have no idea what they are, or even how to pronounce them, then I don't buy them.

When homemade salad dressings are easy enough to make, and generally with ingredients already on hand, well, why not make them? I have quite a few salad dressings that I really like and make often. One is my Chris's Oriental Dressing, one I usually have on hand, as everyone seems to like it. With all this in mind then, I am going to set a few of my usual salad dressing recipes here to choose from. 


Honey Dijon Dressing

Honey Dijon Dressing

Good for more than just a salad, this can be poured over baked chicken or pork for a really wonderful sauce.

Makes about ¾ cup
 

¼ cup honey
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoons minced shallot
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon lime juice
salt and pepper, to taste

Place all ingredients into a bowl and whisk briskly until the dressing emulsifies. Or, place ingredients in a jar with tight fitting lid and shake until the dressing emulsifies. Refrigerated in a tightly sealed container, this dressing should keep for up to a month.

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Blue Cheese Dressing

Blue Cheese Dressing

Good on a salad, of course, but try it as a sandwich spread or dipping sauce for chicken or pork. Use your favorite Blue Cheese. I use Maytag or Saga Blue.
 

Makes about 2½ cups
 

¾ cup mayonnaise
½ cup plain yogurt
½ cup good quality olive oil
6 ounces Blue Cheese
1 - 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
a few grinds of black pepper

In a mixing bowl, stir together the mayonnaise and yogurt, then whisk in the olive oil until well combined. Crumble in the blue cheese and mix with one tablespoon of the red wine vinegar. Season with pepper, to taste, and check for flavor. Add int he second tablespoon of red wine vinegar if needed to round out the flavors. Refrigerated in a tightly sealed container, this dressing should keep for up to 3 weeks.

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Sherry Balsamic Vinaigrette

Sherry Balsamic Vinaigrette
Sherry Balsamic Vinaigrette

A wonderful balsamic vinaigrette dressing for any salad. Sherry vinegar and walnut oil may not be available, but if not, and you have the ability to seek them out, it makes for a most excellent flavor. If using hazelnuts in a salad, switch the walnut oil to hazelnut oil.
 

Makes about ¾ cup
 

2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon Dijon vinegar
3 tablespoons walnut oil
3 tablespoons olive oil
a pinch each of salt, pepper, cayenne
 

Whist all ingredients briskly to emulsify, or mix all ingredients in a jar with tight fitting lid and shake to emulsify. Refrigerated in a tightly sealed container, this dressing should keep for up to a month.

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Lemony Vinaigrette


This lovely dressing is great on most salads, and can also be used basted over things like vegetable kebabs, or used as a veggie dip.
 

Makes about 1 cup
 

2 tablespoons butter
⅓ cup shallot, minced
⅓ cup olive oil
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, minced
1 tablespoon lemon zest
 

Melt butter and olive oil in a small skillet and saute the shallot until softened. Off the heat, add in the remaining ingredients, whisking until emulsified. Set aside to cool completely before storing in a tightly sealed container. Will keep for 2 to 3 weeks in the refrigerator.
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Cilantro Sauce / Dressing

Cilantro Sauce or Dressing
Cilantro Sauce or Dressing

While this recipe turns out a thicker sauce, making it a perfect dip for chips, it can very easily be used as a salad dressing or as a sauce over chicken or pork, or to mix with rice. Many do not like cilantro and may be put off by this recipe, although when I served this over chicken at a wine tasting I heard many comment that they didn't like cilantro, "but this sauce is delicious!"

Makes about 3 cups
 

1 large bunch cilantro
1 cup Salsa Verde (Tomatillo based Green Sauce)
1 teaspoon salt
2 jalapeno peppers, seeds & membranes removed for less heat
2 large cloves fresh garlic, minced
1 tablespoon lime juice
½ cup sour cream
¼ cup olive oil
 

Place all ingredients into a blender container and puree until smooth. Store in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

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Orange Sesame Dressing


With oriental type flavors of dark sesame oil, ginger, soy sauce and tahini, mixed with orange juice and a bit of marmalade for sweetness, this is a delicious salad dressing. Don't be put off by the ingredients list. This is well worth a try.

Makes nearly 1½ cups
Orange Sesame Dressing
Orange Sesame Dressing

2 teaspoons sesame tahini
⅓ cup orange juice
3 tablespoons orange marmalade
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 large clove garlic, minced
2 shakes cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
2 tablespoons finely minced scallion
6 tablespoons neutral oil, such as grapeseed
2 tablespoons dark Asian sesame oil
 

Whisk the tahini into the orange juice to soften and disperse, then add all the remaining ingredients and whisk briskly to combine. Store in a tightly sealed jar, refrigerated for up to 3 weeks.


My passion is teaching people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and passing along my love and joy of food, both simple or exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. I would love to hear from you, to help me continue my journey to explore diverse culinary experiences and hopefully to start you on a journey of your own. Join me also at A Harmony of Flavors on Facebook, and Pinterest and sign up for my Newsletter.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Ideas for that Special Someone

It seems the holidays just passed, and now it's time to gear up for Valentine's Day. If you want to make something really special for your Valentine, or for your family, expressing your love and appreciation, here are a couple of ideas for you. 

Flourless Chocolate Torte with Strawberry Buttercream
Flourless Chocolate Torte with Strawberry Buttercream
The cake is flourless, and uses finely ground nuts to give it body. I have made this cake many times before, and it is the most decadent cake I have ever had. It may take a little time to make, assemble and chill, but the cake layers can be made ahead of time and refrigerated for a couple of days or frozen for up to 3 weeks if needed, and gotten out when the time comes for assembly. 

Either cake can be made this way. Both are best if kept refrigerated, as slicing is far easier. The first cake is the original I used, and the second is the one I made into the Chocolate Hazelnut Cake with Chocolate Hazelnut Mousse Filling.


Flourless Chocolate Torte with Strawberry Buttercream


Makes one (4-layer) 9-inch torte, about 16 servings
Flourless Chocolate Torte with Strawberry Buttercream
Flourless Chocolate Torte with Strawberry Buttercream

CAKE:
¾ cup unsalted butter
2 cups granulated sugar
8 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
¼ teaspoon salt
12 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted
3½ cups pecans, finely ground

STRAWBERRY BUTTERCREAM FILLING:
2½ sticks unsalted butter, softened
2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
½ cup fresh strawberries, pureed
3 tablespoons strawberry preserves

CHOCOLATE GLAZE:
3 ounces semisweet chocolate
½ cup water
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons safflower oil
¾ cup cocoa powder, unsweetened
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

FOR DECORATION:
8 whole strawberries of equal size, cut in half lengthwise
 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter four 9-inch round pans. Line the bottoms with parchment; butter parchment.

Cream butter till light. Add sugar; beat until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Add vanilla and salt. Using a rubber spatula, stir in the chocolate and then the pecans. Divide the batter between the four prepared pans. Bake until a tester inserted in the center comes out fudgy, but not wet, about 22 minutes. Tops may crack. (If you do not have four 9-inch pans, bake two layers, turn out onto racks, wash and re-use the pans for the other two layers).

Cool in the pans on a rack for 5 minutes. Run a knife around the edges of the pans. Invert cakes onto a rack to cool. Remove and discard parchment. The cake layers can be made up to 2 days in advance. Wrap each layer separately in plastic wrap and refrigerate.

PREPARE STRAWBERRY BUTTERCREAM: Using an electric mixer, cream butter and confectioner's sugar till light and fluffy. Add in pureed berries and preserves. This can be prepared in advance and covered and refrigerated. To use, soften at room temperature until spreadable.

Arrange 1 cake layer, bottom side up, on a 9-inch cardboard round, if possible. If no cardboard round is available, place cake on a cake plate, sliding strips of waxed paper under the edges of the cake to keep the plate neat while glazing. Spread
cup of the buttercream over the layer. Top with another cake layer and repeat. Do this once more, and then top with the last cake layer, bottom side up. Pat layers to make them even. Cover and refrigerate at least 6 hours. If necessary, cut the edges of the cake with a serrated knife to make them even.

PREPARE CHOCOLATE GLAZE: Heat the chocolate with the water, butter and safflower oil in the top of a double boiler over gently simmering water till chocolate melts. Remove from heat and add the cocoa powder and the ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar and stir until sugar dissolves and the glaze is smooth. Let cool until thickened, but pourable. Can be prepared one day ahead and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature to use.

If the cake was placed on a cardboard cake round, place on a rack with waxed paper beneath to catch drippings. If not on cardboard, place strips of waxed paper under cake edges before glazing. Pour the glaze over the cake, smoothing over sides and top. Discard waxed paper strips, if used.

Cake can be prepared to this point one day in advance and refrigerated. Remove from fridge and let stand at room temperature for one hour before serving. When ready to serve, top the cake with 14 to 16 strawberry halves, placed with pointy ends toward center. Each slice should have one strawberry half on top.
 

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I made this second cake many years ago, for my son and his wife, at that time. The cake was their idea, and I made their idea come to life. They were huge fans of chocolate and hazelnut, so everything was to be chocolate and hazelnut flavors. I already had a most amazing cake recipe, so I adapted it to work with hazelnuts rather than pecans. I made a chocolate and hazelnut mousse to put between the layers, and a chocolate ganache, flavored with Frangelico to pour over the finished cake. 

The one problem I ran into was the assembly. I wanted to assemble the cake in a spring-form pan, while it set, and then remove the rim.However, while I used 8-inch cake pans to make the cake, it is not easy to find an 8-inch spring-form pan. If it says it is 8-inch, in actuality, it is 8½-inch. I had to special order the spring-form. Ultimately though, I feel that the spring-form rather ruined the look, as the mousse ran into the edges anyway. But, it was fabulous. It was beautiful. It was absolutely decadent. It was delicious. What more can one ask?
Chocolate Hazelnut Cake with Chocolate Hazelnut Mousse Filling
Chocolate Hazelnut Cake with Chocolate Hazelnut Mousse Filling

It only made sense to use it for this application. As for the mousse, adding some hazelnut spread and Frangelico to give the right flavor, was simplicity itself. The ganache topping was also simple. 


Chocolate Hazelnut Cake with Chocolate Hazelnut Mousse Filling


Makes one (4-layer) 8-or 9-inch torte, about 12 to 16 servings

Chocolate Hazelnut Cake with Chocolate Hazelnut Mousse Filling
Chocolate Hazelnut Cake with Chocolate Hazelnut Mousse Filling
CAKE:
¾ cup unsalted butter
2 cups granulated sugar
8 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
¼ teaspoon salt
12 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted
3½ cups hazelnut meal



CHOCOLATE HAZELNUT MOUSSE:
1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
3 tablespoons cold water
½ cup chocolate hazelnut spread (Nutella)
½ cup mascarpone cream (4-ounces)
1½ cup heavy cream, very cold
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons Frangelico (hazelnut liqueur)


CHOCOLATE GANACHE:

¼ cup heavy cream or whipping cream

3 ounces bittersweet chocolate or ½ cup bittersweet chocolate chips 
1 tablespoon Frangelico (hazelnut liqueur)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

CAKE: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter four 8- or 9-inch round pans. Line the bottoms with parchment; butter parchment.

Cream butter till light. Add sugar; beat until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Add vanilla and salt. Using a rubber spatula, stir in the chocolate and then the hazelnut meal. Divide the batter between the four prepared pans. Bake until a tester inserted in the center comes out fudgy, but not wet, about 22 minutes. Tops may crack. (If you do not have four 8-inch pans, bake two layers, turn out onto racks, wash and re-use the pans for the other two layers).

Cool in the pans on a rack for 5 minutes. Run a knife around the edges of the pans. Invert cakes onto a rack to cool. Remove and discard parchment. The cake layers can be made up to 2 days in advance. Wrap each layer separately in plastic wrap and refrigerate.


CHOCOLATE HAZELNUT MOUSSE: Sprinkle gelatin over the cold water in a small, heavy saucepan and let stand until softened, about 5 minutes. Heat gelatin mixture over low heat, stirring, just until gelatin is melted, about 2 minutes. Do not let the gelatin boil. It must only melt. Whisk in chocolate hazelnut spread until smooth. Remove from heat and set aside.

Place the gelatin and hazelnut mixture into a large bowl. In another bowl, with an electric mixer, beat together the heavy cream, cocoa powder, and sugar at low speed to combine, then increase speed to high and beat until cream just holds soft peaks. Whisk ⅓ of whipped cream into mascarpone mixture to lighten, then fold in remaining whipped cream until well combined and no white remains. Chill the mixture until it starts to hold shape.


Set one of the cake layers bottom side upwards onto a cake plate. Spread ⅓ of the mousse onto this layer evenly to the edges. Set the next layer on top, keeping sides neat and even. Spread a second ⅓ of the mousse evenly on this layer. Repeat with the third layer and the last ⅓ of the mousse and then top the cake with the last cake layer. Cover and refrigerate the cake for at least 6 hours to firm up.

MAKE THE GANACHE: In a medium saucepan, bring the ¼-cup of heavy cream and the Frangelico just to a simmer over medium heat. Do not boil, but it must be hot. Remove from the heat and add in the chocolate, stirring until completely melted and smooth, then add in the butter, in small pieces, stirring until melted. Cool the ganache to a thick but still pour-able consistency and pour over the cake, spreading to cover the top and artfully drizzle down the sides. The cake is best chilled, though the ganache will lose its shine.





My passion is teaching people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and passing along my love and joy of food, both simple or exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. I would love to hear from you, to help me continue my journey to explore diverse culinary experiences and hopefully to start you on a journey of your own. Join me also at A Harmony of Flavors on Facebook, and Pinterest and sign up for my Newsletter.   

Monday, January 21, 2019

On a South Indian Theme with Fish

I don't make a lot of fish. Mainly because my husband is not overly fond of it, and it requires some careful thought on how to make it the least objectionable. While I love a nice baked fish filet, placing a white block of baked fish on a plate for my husband will just not fly! I have found that making a really flavorful Indian curry sauce and cooking a very white (meaning least fishy flavored) fish in this sauce, makes a most acceptable meal for my husband. For me? Absolutely delightful!
South Indian Fish Curry or Meen Kuzhambu
South Indian Fish Curry or Meen Kuzhambu (with S.E. Indian Green Mango Chutney)


I have been exploring food differences in south India, after years of being stuck in the north, the "Mughlai" style of cooking that most restaurants have showcased. I love that food, those flavors. Do not misunderstand. But as I have this fascination with spices, I discover new ones and need to see how they are used. This has led me, in the last 6 or 8 months, to look more closely at south India and the flavors that are used there. Outside of knowing that foods are highly spiced with chilis, that Panch Phoron is a common mixture to use from Mumbai on down, and that seafood and coconut are much used - there ended my knowledge of the entire rest of that country.

Part of the reason I became interested in knowing more about southern India was because I read Padma Lakshmi's memoir, "Love, Loss, and What We Ate." Padma is from Tamil Nadu, down at the southeastern tip of India. That's about as far from the Mughlai north as possible in India, and as she reminisced about the foods she grew up with and things she has made, some of these recipes and foods and techniques were absolutely unknown to me. And therefore, most intriguing!
South Indian Fish Curry or Meen Kuzhambu
South Indian Fish Curry or Meen Kuzhambu

After reading about her mango chutney or "pickle," that she called Kanchanomer Tok, I found the differences from the British style of mango chutney quite interesting. I played with the recipe just a little. For starters, it is hard to find sufficiently green mangoes up in the frigid north (or for that matter, the hot sun needed to "cook" the "pickle" in the sun!), so I use ones as green as I can find, but not totally authentic. Still, what I ended up with as my recipe for South Indian Green Mango Chutney is one I have made repeatedly, as I just love the flavor combo.  

After this long-winded wind up, what I am getting to is that while I researched the spices for the last 4 blog posts on spices, I also was running across recipes that sounded interesting. Southern Indian recipes. As it happened, last evening I wanted to make some white fish. I had a couple of halibut filets. I looked at a lot of southern Indian fish curry recipes. And then took them and made my own spin. The biggest change I made was the addition of extra vegetables pureed into the sauce. This is because I continue to incorporate extra vegetables into my husband's diet anywhere I can get away with it. Particularly things like cauliflower, which is easily hidden or disguised and the flavor is not noticeable, among the abundant mix of spices and flavors.

A fish curry in southern India, as I found in quite a few blogs, is called Meen (fish) Kuzhambu (curry). 

So, finally, what I came up with turned out truly wonderful, and completely acceptable for my husband, but because of the addition of the extra vegetables, I had far more sauce than needed for two fish filets. I believe it would be best to use 4 servings of fish in the recipe, and then the sauce would be the perfect amount.

South Indian Fish Curry, or Meen Kuzhambu


Serves 4
South Indian Fish Curry or Meen Kuzhambu
South Indian Fish Curry or Meen Kuzhambu


FISH MARINADE:
4 white fish filet portions (I used halibut) 
1 tablespoon coconut milk powder, optional
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
½ teaspoon salt
a squeeze of lime juice

SAUCE:
1 tablespoon cooking oil
1 teaspoon fennel seed
1 medium onion, chopped 
1 cup finely grated cauliflower
½ red bell pepper, chopped
1 green chili pepper, chopped (remove seeds for less heat)
1 - 2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
¼ cup dried, grated, unsweetened coconut
1 (15 ounce) can petite diced tomatoes

TEMPERING:
1 tablespoon cooking oil
½ teaspoon brown mustard seeds
10 to 12 fresh curry leaves
12 - 3 tablespoons sliced shallot
½ teaspoon asafoetida

OTHER FLAVORS:
3 tablespoons tamarind puree (or 2 teaspoons tamarind in paste-like concentrated form)
1 teaspoon crushed coriander seeds
1 teaspoon Garam Masala
½ teaspoon black cumin
½ teaspoon ground fenugreek seed

Mix together the coconut milk powder, turmeric and salt and sprinkle over the fish filets, then squeeze on the lime juice. Turn to coat the filets evenly and set aside while preparing the curry.

For the sauce, heat the oil in a large skillet and add the fennel seeds, tossing until very aromatic. Add in the onion, cauliflower and red bell pepper and saute until the vegetables are soft and the onion and cauliflower are golden and beginning to brown a little. Add in the green chili pepper, garlic and ginger and cook for an extra 3 to 5 minutes or until very fragrant. Stir in the dried coconut and the can of tomatoes (can use 2 cups of fresh tomatoes). Heat together, then pour this mixture into a blender or food processor and puree to a fine sauce. Set aside.

For the "Tempering," wipe out the skillet and heat the tablespoon of oil. Add in the mustard seeds until they begin popping, then add in the curry leaves, shallot and asafoetida and saute until the shallot is softened. Add in the pureed sauce, along with the other flavors: tamarind, coriander seeds, Garam Masala, black cumin and ground fenugreek seed. Stir well to disperse all ingredients evenly, then nestle the fish filets into this curry sauce. spooning sauce over top of the filets. Cook the filets until they flake easily with a fork, turning once during cooking. The cooking time will vary, depending on type of fish and thickness of filet. The halibut filets cooked in about 15 minutes.


My passion is teaching people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and passing along my love and joy of food, both simple or exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. I would love to hear from you, to help me continue my journey to explore diverse culinary experiences and hopefully to start you on a journey of your own. Join me also at A Harmony of Flavors on Facebook, and Pinterest and sign up for my Newsletter.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

My Indian Spice Drawer Part 4

Over the course of the last few days, I have showcased a lot of my spices, focusing in particular on those that I use in Indian cooking. Some are ones that are often mistaken for another, such as "caraway" (which is not used in Indian cooking at all, but much used in Europe and northern Africa) when what is really called for is Black Cumin, and poor Black Cumin gets called so many other things (like Nigella / Onion Seed / Kalonji), that it is nearly impossible to untangle without some sort of guideline to follow. In an effort to help with some of these many mistaken identities, and some just to introduce a spice you may not yet know, I have worked on these pages for clarification. 

I am not Indian. I have no particular Indian friends to help me out with this. I have, however, been cooking Indian foods for over 20 years now, and have run into a lot of unfamiliar words for things. I have spent countless hours poring over books and websites, trying to do this very same thing, and I feel at this point that I am fairly informed on the subject. 

But still. I have not been to the source. I have no one to correct me. I am going on my own hard work and effort over all these years, learning. Always learning. And as I love spices, I will likely learn of more, as time goes by. Meanwhile, I hope these pages will help someone out there.

Black Salt
Black Salt

Black Salt


A type of rock salt, salty and pungent, it is found mostly in the Himalayas. Black salt is comprised of several other components that give the salt its color (pink to purple) and smell (sulphur content). Though this salt can be produced from natural salts with the correct chemical compounds, it is commonly manufactured synthetically by adding ingredients and heating in a furnace. It is commonly used in Bangladesh, Nepal, India and Pakistan as a condiment added to things like chaats, chaat masalas, chutneys, raitas, salads and other Indian snacks. 

Some Indian names for Black Salt you may encounter: Kala Namak, Bire Noon, Kala Noon

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Black Sesame Seed
Black Sesame Seed

Black Sesame Seed


(Sesamum Indicum ‘nigrum’)

Sesame seeds are all from the same plant, regardless of their color. Most commonly seen are white sesame, often on top of buns, but Black Sesame seeds have appeared more commonly over the years. In Indian cooking, they are cited specifically in an Assam sweet called “Til Pitha,” a thin cake with a black sesame and jaggery filling rolled inside. Some say that black sesame and white are the same except that the white have had the hull removed. Not entirely true. Possibly a polished black sesame seed would be white if its hull is removed, but white sesame seeds with their hull left on are a matte ivory beige in color (see below).

Some Indian names for Black Sesame Seed you may encounter:Til

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White Sesame Seed
White Sesame Seed

White Sesame Seed


(Shown unhulled, not polished)

(Sesamum indicum 'alba')

Sesame, sometimes known as Benne, may have originated in Africa. Many wild relatives are found in Africa and India. Sesame has one of the highest oil contents of any seed. Sesame oil (called “gingelly” oil in India) is used in many recipes, for "tempering" (adding spices and other flavors last minute to a dish that alone is relatively bland, like lentils) and general cooking. To date, I have not seen many sesame seeds of either black or white variety used in Indian recipes, except for sweets of various kinds, used like a peanut brittle. Sesame seeds appear to be used more in southern Indian foods.

Some Indian names for White Sesame Seed you may encounter:Til

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Star Anise
Star Anise

Star Anise, Chinese Star Anise


(Illicum verum)

Star Anise is the dried fruit of an evergreen tree indigenous to south eastern China. Produced almost entirely in China and Vietnam, there is small production in Arunachal Pradesh, in India. Generally considered an “exotic,” Star Anise can be used as an ingredient in Garam Masala and to flavor rice and meats. It is most often added whole to a dish and discarded before serving. It is often added to spiced masala chai mixtures and to most biryani dishes and slow cooked curries, potato dishes and garbanzo dishes. 


Some Indian names for Star Anise you may encounter: Badian, Badyani, Anasphal, Chakri Phool, Chakri Phul, Badal Phul

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Black Stone Flower Lichen
Black Stone Flower Lichen

Stone Flower, Black Stone Flower 


(Parmotrema perlatum)

Typically used as a spice in Chettinad and West Indian (Maharashtrian) cuisines, Stone Flower, a type of lichen, has little flavor on its own and must be cooked in a little oil to release its flavor. The flavor is described as “strongly woody and with a cinnamon-like aroma and flavor.” It is typically used in meat dishes, some vegetable or lentil dishes (like my Punjabi Chole). Try it in Butter Chicken or Chicken Tikka.

Some Indian names for Stone Flower you may encounter: Dagad Phool, Kalpasi, Bojhwar, Raathi Pootha, Patthar ka Phool 

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Tamarind
Tamarind

Tamarind 


(Tamarindus indica)

A tree in the family Fabaceae, Tamarind is indigenous to tropical Africa, but has been cultivated for so long on the Indian subcontinent that it is considered by some to be indigenous there. The dried brown fruit pod contains dense, sticky, edible pulp surrounding black, shiny seeds which must be removed before use. The outer shell cracks off easily. The sticky fruit can be soaked for easier use. Tamarind is used most often in southern Indian cuisine and is considered a souring agent, like Mango Powder and dried Pomegranate Seeds (instead of using lemons or limes). Used most often in the southern parts of India, find it in many sauces for curries, vindaloo, sambar, lentils and dals, chutneys.

Some Indian names for Tamarind you may encounter: Imli, Amli

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Turmeric Rhizome
Turmeric Rhizome

Turmeric 


(Curcuma longa)

More often seen in its bright yellow powdered form in the U.S., the vivid yellow orange rhizome (ginger family, Zingiberaceae) of this native of the Indian subcontinent and southeast Asia is known in many Asian cuisines, imparting strong yellow color and its warm, pungent, bitter, pepper-mustard-like flavor to savory dishes, though it lends color to widespread other products. In Indian cuisines, it is a usual component of curry powders, and commonly added to curries, masalas, pickles, dals, lentils, vegetables and many other foods to amp up color and flavors.

Some Indian names for Turmeric you may encounter: Haldi, Haldee, Huldi



My passion is teaching people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and passing along my love and joy of food, both simple or exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. I would love to hear from you, to help me continue my journey to explore diverse culinary experiences and hopefully to start you on a journey of your own. Join me also at A Harmony of Flavors on Facebook, and Pinterest and sign up for my Newsletter.

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