Thursday, 26 February 2015

Homemade Kerala Style Meat Masala Powder


When I posted the first in series of the 'Spice Rack', I had planned on photographing all the spices that went into a meat masala mix, then posting the mix itself and so on and so forth. Well, I have to alter the plot a bit for want of 'order and method' on my part or else, the blog will flip to a hibernate mode.
On another note, I seriously don't know what I had been thinking when I made these shots. The rather distinct lines that I was making on the powder went unnoticed till I saw them on a larger screen. The intention was to create a bit of texture on an otherwise monochromatic and nondescript element.

Well, I am not sure of the general setting altogether, now that I look at the shots.
Sigh.
But enough of woes! This meat masala mix (which was originally just a part of my aunt's beef roast) is something I like to keep at hand always. It is a major ingredient in the Kerala Style Beef Curry and some other dishes that we make. Also, it adds a nice finishing touch to certain curries. That said, do note that this mix is different from the store bought Chicken/Meat masala powders. It is stronger, have different ingredients and proportions, and hence cannot be substituted on a one to one ratio for the supermarket version.

Ingredients:
  1. Fennel Seeds - 10 tbsp. 
  2. Cumin Seeds - 1 tbsp.
  3. Pepper Corns - 4 tbsp.
  4. Cinnamon Sticks - 6 pieces (Each about 1 inch in length)
  5. Cardamom Pods - 10
  6. Cloves - 10
  7. Star Anise - 4
Directions:

Heat up a heavy bottomed pan and add the fennel seeds first. I like to roast them a bit more than the other spices.

After a minute or so, add the rest of the spices and dry roast the mix carefully. Keep the pan on a low fire and make sure you don't burn them. I like to wait till the fennel changes its colour a bit. (That is, at least some of the fennel seeds changes colour.) This sort of reduces the intensity of fennel and gives the mix a better flavour.

Once done, transfer the spices onto a tray, allow them to cool off completely and then grind to a powder.

Store in an air tight container.
Notes:
  1. The recipe makes a fair quantity. Since the strength of powdered spices reduces over time, you might need to halve the recipe.
  2. As was mentioned earlier, you cannot simply substitute this in recipes calling for store bought meat masala powder - however, you can use a reduced quantity than what the original recipe calls for. (You might need to do some further tweaks to the original recipe in order to get the final taste right.) Also, this is different from Garam Masala Powder.

Monday, 23 February 2015

The Spice Rack: Fennel Seeds


Warm and 'aniseedy', dried seeds of the Fennel herb can come with a brownish or greenish tint. They are larger than cumin seeds and have quite an important role in some of the spice mixes that are used in Kerala (especially, those that are used in meat dishes).

Although, I have never come across any fish curries flavoured with fennel seeds back home, we get a 'Thenga Aracha Meen Curry' (Fish curry in a ground coconut sauce) that has a gravy seasoned with fennel in one of the restaurants here.
Talking about restaurants, sugar coated fennel and anise seeds are very often offered as breath fresheners after meals in restaurants here. I never eat them though, as I'm a bit too apprehensive about the number of strange hands that might previously have partaken of the contents of the same bowl :)

Notes: 
  1. These images have been shot some time before and form the second in the spice series that was begun some time ago. In fact, the post has been ready ever since December. I was frankly too lazy to tidy it up and post. Such is the aftermath of vacations!
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