Saturday, 12 March 2016

Coriander and Cumin Powder

It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.
Charles Dickens, Chapter LIV, Great Expectations

That is how it is with our rooms now. The dark and shady parts are cold and the ones exposed to direct sunlight are hot. Summer is yet to make its deadly clutch – at least inside our house, and I'm thankful for that.
Our older rented home was one that transformed itself to a furnace when February had barely passed, each year. Some of the windows were permanently stuck. Or rather, they were left closed for good as it was impossible to shut them properly if we pried them open at all. The house had humid spots as well in various rooms, surprisingly. None of this helped in abating the tormenting heat. It was as if the house didn't like being lived in and was doing its best to shove us out.

This is why I like our present home (it comes with its own set of handicaps – and most people can only see its faults) – it is reluctant to let go of winter and carries the last of the cold weather as long as it possibly can. (Of course, the winter here is more of a rather cold weather and not winter in its harshest sense.)
I had written a bare outline of this post a few days ago and it now seems funny. (The aftermath of procrastination.) Summer has officially arrived and the temperatures have gone up. 

Summer, as my friend (Samuel Taylor) Coleridge waggishly writes, has set in with its usual severity.
Charles Lamb’s letter to Vincent Novello (May 9, 1826)

However, our home is much on the amiable side still. The rooms have lost their winter hangover - but they are still bearable. 
Moreover, it is supposed to be roasting temperatures back at home. My Dad says it is impossible to take his walk in the evening and that he is contemplating getting up at five in the morning and doing it. 

So I still have nothing to complain.

Coriander and Cumin Powder

I made this for the Kosha Mangsho (Bengali Slow Cooked Mutton or Lamb Roast) sometime back and didn't have plans to publish this as a separate post. However, now that I have this mix at hand, I find myself using it in recipes and so thought it prudent to have a standalone post for the powder, rather than repeating the same steps in other recipe posts. 

  1. Coriander Seeds - 1/4 cup
  2. Cumin Seeds - 1/8 to 1/4 cup (I use 1/8 cup. See Notes.)

Heat up a pan and add the whole spices. Dry roast them till they are fragrant, but not burnt. 

Transfer the spices to a tray and spread them in a thin layer. Allow the spices to cool completely. Grind the mix to a fine powder and store in an airtight container.
  1. As was mentioned above, the mix was made primarily for the Mangshor Kasha (Kosha Mangsho). I didn't make it with the same (1:1) proportion that was specified in the book as the one above is the ratio that I prefer. If you like a more prominent note of Cumin, you can make the powder with equal quantities of Cumin and Coriander and proceed as above. 
  2. You can make the powder just by mixing pre ground coriander and cumin in the same proportions. I would recommend making it from scratch through.

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