Japanese Special March Festival


I found this to be interesting. That’s probably because of my Cultural Anthropology background.

Hina Matsuri in Japan

Source: https://matcha-jp.com/en/753
Although it is not a national holiday, March 3rd is a special day for girls. Families who don’t have young daughters might not do anything special on this day.
March 3rd is Japanese Girls’ Day or Hinamatsuri. Ornate dolls are displayed in the family home to mark the beginning of spring and to wish good health and good fortune for all of the girls in the family.
However, a tradition of this festival is still passed down until now. Actually, how people celebrate Hina Matsuri is different from place to place. We will introduce here what the Japanese people usually do on this day.
Hina Dolls represent what the imperial family was like in the ancient times. The dolls on the top tire of the platforms represent the emperor and the empress. The rest of the dolls are three court ladies, five musicians and the minister of the Right and Left who used to support the government in the old days. There are some decorations such as Gissha (oxcarts), small cupboards, Japanese paper lamps called “Bonbori”, and orange and peach tree branches displayed on the tire of platforms.
The facial expressions and costumes of each doll are also different depending on their personality and position.
The special meals for Hina Matsuri are Amazake (sweet drink), Chirashizushi (a style of sushi) and Hina Arare (sweet colorful rice crackers).
Amazake is a traditional Japanese sweet and thick drink made from fermented glutinous rice. Amazake literally means “sweet alcohol” but it has less than 1 percent of Shirozake alcohol in it. So children are also able to drink it.

Shirozake
Drinking Shirozake, which is a traditional sweet sake, was one of the customs to get rid of bad things out from your body. But Shirozake is an alcoholic drink, so Amazake was made with the children in mind.
Hina Arare are colorful and cute small rice crackers. The colors of these rice crackers have meanings. White represents the earth of the winter, pink and red represent life, while green represents the green shoots in the spring. Hina Arare is a snack showing our expectations toward the arrival of spring after the long cold winter. People also say that you will live healthy for this coming year if you eat each color of Hina Arare.
Chirashizushi is a type of Sushi which has lotus roots, shrimp and thinly shredded egg omelet on the top of vinegar rice. It has been a dish enjoyed widely at celebrations.
The ingredients in Chirashizushi have meanings as well. The lotus root is said to give one the power to see what will happen in the future, shrimps are a symbol of longevity and so on.

Source: https://www.thespruceeats.com/japanese-girls-day-hinamatsuri-party-dishes-2031057
As with almost all holidays, food and drink play a role on Girls’ Day, with rice wine and rice cakes taking center stage, along with flower blossoms. Hinamatsuri is also called Momo no Sekku, which means a festival of peach blossoms. Peach blossoms, shiro-zake (white fermented rice wine) and hishi-mochi (diamond-shaped rice cakes) are placed on the stand with the hina dolls. Hishi-mochi are colored pink representing peach flowers, white representing snow, and green representing new growth.
Traditionally, girls in Japan invited their friends to a home party to celebrate this festival. Many people prepare a special meal for girls on this day, including savory dishes such as chirashi, which is sugar-flavored, vinegared sushi rice with raw fish on top; clam soup served in the shell; and edamame maze-gohan, mixed rice usually consisting of brown rice and soybeans.
Other popular dishes to serve at a Girl’s Day celebration are inari sushi—rice-stuffed tofu pockets—with miso grilled salmon and cabbage ramen salad. Sweets are on the menu as well, incorporating a feminine shade of pink, like chi chi dango, which are pink pillows of mochi (glutinous rice flour and coconut milk), a favorite among children, and sakura-mochi, a pink, sweet rice cake. Some families include an impressive edible centerpiece, such as the layered chirashi sushi cake.

Some recipes for Hina Matsuri
(The recipes listed below can be found at the link above.)

Chirashizuchi
Easy Seafood Chirashizushi: Use a shortcut of packaged sushi seasoning to quickly season steamed rice and add pre-cooked gomoku vegetables for this delectable dish. Add your favorite toppings of choice.
Edamame Maze-Gohan (Mixed Rice): Is easy to prepare, especially for large crowds. Steamed rice is mixed with furikake seasoning, bottled nametake (seasoned mushrooms), and shelled edamame for a delicious rice dish.
Inari Sushi: Preparing a dish for a large crowd doesn’t need to be complicated. Find out the secrets of making quick inari sushi with impressive results.
Cabbage Ramen Salad: This spin on the traditional Chinese chicken salad recipe uses crunchy dried ramen noodles, cabbage, and shredded chicken to create a zesty Japanese-fusion salad.
Slow Cooker Teriyaki Chicken Wings: Let your slow cooker do all the work to whip-up a batch of delicious teriyaki chicken wings with just a few ingredients, and use the free time to prepare a few other dishes.
Miso Ginger Marinated Grilled Salmon
Miso Grilled Salmon: Miso-grilled salmon can easily be prepared by making the marinade ahead of time and then letting the salmon marinade for a few days in the fridge. All you need is an oven or a grill to cook up delicious fillets in under 40 minutes.
Clam Soup: A traditional soup that is often enjoyed on Hinamatsuri is clam soup. This clear style soup is known as sumashijiru and is simply seasoned from the broth of the clams.
Chi Chi Dango: These pillowy soft bites of mochi are made of glutinous rice flour and coconut milk. These pink, soft mochi are an absolute favorite among children.
Sakura Mochi: Sakura mochi is a glutinous rice dish that is often enjoyed during Hinamatsuri. This slightly sweetened, pink mochi is filled with sweet red beans (koshian) and wrapped in a salted sakura (young cherry blossom) leaf.

What is this thing called ….. Borscht?


I’m not sure that Cole Porter or Ella Fitzgerald would approve of the title, but I think it is appropriate. Keep reading.

“Borscht (English: /ˈbɔːrʃ, ˈbɔːrʃt/ ) is a sour soup commonly consumed in Eastern Europe. The variety most often associated with the name in English is of Ukrainian origin, and includes beetroots as one of the main ingredients, which gives the dish its distinctive red color. It shares the name, however, with a wide selection of sour-tasting soups without beetroots, such as sorrel-based green borscht, rye-based white borscht and cabbage borscht … Borscht derives from an ancient soup originally cooked from pickled stems, leaves and umbels of common hogweed (Heracleum sphondylium), a herbaceous plant growing in damp meadows, which lent the dish its Slavic name. With time, it evolved into a diverse array of tart soups, among which the beet-based red borscht has become the most popular. It is typically made by combining meat or bone stock with sautéed vegetables, which – as well as beetroots – usually include cabbage, carrots, onions, potatoes and tomatoes. Depending on the recipe, borscht may include meat or fish, or be purely vegetarian; it may be served either hot or cold; and it may range from a hearty one-pot meal to a clear broth or a smooth drink.” [Wikipedia] And “those other sour soups” that are cousins to borscht may come from day Lithuania and Belarus, the Ashkenaz Jews, Romanian and Moldovan cuisines, Poland, Armenia and even Chinese cuisine, a soup known as luó sòng tāng, or “Russian soup”, is based on red cabbage and tomatoes, and lacks beetroots altogether; also known as “Chinese borscht”. Wow! There are many varieties of borscht.

But there is only one original or authentic borscht. Borscht derives from a soup originally made by the Slavs from common hogweed (Heracleum sphondylium, also known as cow parsnip), which lent the dish its Slavic name. Growing commonly in damp meadows throughout the north temperate zone, hogweed was used not only as fodder (as its English names suggest), but also for human consumption – from Eastern Europe to Siberia, to northwestern North America.
And what is generally served with borscht? “Pirozhki, or baked dumplings with fillings as for uszka, are another common side for both thick and clear variants of borscht. Polish clear borscht may be also served with a croquette or paszteciki. A typical Polish croquette (krokiet) is made by wrapping a crêpe (thin pancake) around a filling and coating it in breadcrumbs before refrying; paszteciki (literally, ‘little pâtés’) are variously shaped filled hand-held pastries of yeast-raised or flaky dough. An even more exquisite way to serve borscht is with a coulibiac, or a large loaf-shaped pie. Possible fillings for croquettes, paszteciki and coulibiacs include mushrooms, sauerkraut and minced meat.” [The Book of Tasty and Healthy Food, Anastas Mikoyan]

So. What is borscht usually made of? What are the components? Ingredients? Borscht is seldom eaten by itself. Buckwheat groats or boiled potatoes, often topped with pork cracklings, are other simple possibilities, but a range of more involved sides exists as well.
In Ukraine, borscht is often accompanied with pampushky, or savory, puffy yeast-raised rolls glazed with oil and crushed garlic. In Russian cuisine, borscht may be served with any of assorted side dishes based on tvorog, or the East European variant of farmer cheese, such as vatrushki, syrniki or krupeniki. Vatrushki are baked round cheese-filled tarts; syrniki are small pancakes wherein the cheese is mixed into the batter; and a krupenikis a casserole of buckwheat groats baked with cheese.

But please note, your borscht may be different from your neighbors. There are cultural differences in the borscht. Ingredients may include,beet juice, beet root, veal, ham, crayfish, beef, pork, sour cream, buttermilk, yogurt, cucumbers, radishes, green onion, hard-boiled egg halves, dill weed, leafy vegetables, sorrel, spinach, chard, nettle, dandelion, cabbage, tomatoes, corn, squash, to name a few.

Our Borscht
So whatever inspired me to write this post? Well, we made a borscht and I posted a photo of it (the one pictured here actually) and I got comments. One of them in particular, from a Ukrainian lady, and she said,”That’s not real Russian Borsch (smiley face). It’s beet soup (smiley face). My mom makes the best, she is a Gourmet Chef for over 50yrs, and specializes in Jewish Cuisine.” [Mara Rizzio] I spoke to Mara – she makes awesome pirogies – and it was a good discussion. Thank-You Mara for “setting” me straight. Thus, this blog post. Cheers. And here is a recipe for Borscht that I found in the internet, from NPR, that includes various ingredients. Have fun! Borscht Recipe.

Popovers Anyone?


Oh yes! Delicious popovers. Fill with tuna salad, ham, jam or whipped cream. These buttery, soft “rolls”, of sorts, will suit any party. Or dinner table. Or breakfast. They are so versatile. Easy to make and you don’t really need any special tools or pans. Even though there are special pans for popovers. Or, use a metal muffin pan. Big one or little one.
But where did these come? Who “invented” them? Some sources say they are related to Scottish Short Bread. But more than likely, they come from England and are a derivative of Yorkshire Pudding. “The popover is an American version of Yorkshire pudding and similar batter puddings made in England since the 17th century.
The oldest known reference to popovers is in a letter of E. E. Stuart’s in 1850. The first cookbook to print a recipe for popovers was M. N. Henderson, Practical Cooking, 1876. The first book other than a cookbook to mention popovers was Jesuit’s Ring by A. A. Hayes published in 1892.
In American Food (1974), author Evan Jones writes: “Settlers from Maine who founded Portland, Oregon, Americanized the pudding from Yorkshire by cooking the batter in custard cups lubricated with drippings from the roasting beef (or sometimes pork); another modification was the use of garlic, and, frequently, herbs. The result is called Portland popover pudding: individual balloons of crusty meat-flavored pastry.
Other American popover variations include replacing some of the flour with pumpkin puree and adding spices such as allspice or nutmeg. Most American popovers today, however, are not flavored with meat or herbs. Instead, they have a buttery taste.
Ogden Nash inverts the historical order of events.
Let’s call Yorkshire pudding
A fortunate blunder:
It’s a sort of popover
That turned and popped under.” [Wikipedia]

And from the sensitiveeconomist. com site, “Popovers are an American recipe that are thought to have descended from English batter puddings and Yorkshire puddings, although the origin is a bit uncertain. Puddings in medieval times were not like today’s custard-like desserts, but rather were meat-based.” In other words, I’m still not completely sure where popovers came from. Although, they appear to be strictly an American treat.

So now we know a little about the popover. But now the question is:Do I need a special pan? “Popovers are airy rolls that are just as much fun to bake as they are to eat. It is a balloon-like roll with a crisp, buttery exterior and a tender, eggy interior. Many people don’t make them at home because the perception is that you need a specialty pan to bake them. Fortunately, this isn’t true.” [craftsy.com] A good, sturdy muffin pan will work just as well.
Here is a recipe that we like and it works very well.

Popovers with Scrambled Eggs and Fresh Fruit
Popovers
Total: 50 min Prep: 10 min Cook: 40 min Yield: 8 popovers
Bob and Robin Young, Boise, ID
Ingredients:
3 T melted butter, divided
2 lg Eggs
1 c whole Milk, warmed for 30 seconds in the microwave (should be lukewarm to warm)
1 c All-Purpose Flour
1 t Celtic Sea Salt
Directions:
Preheat the oven to 400º F.
Using a pastry brush, coat 8 muffin cups with 1 tablespoon of the melted butter and put the tin in the oven for 5 minutes. (This is extremely important to do!)
Meanwhile, mix the eggs in a blender until light yellow. Add the warmed milk and blend. Add the flour, salt and remaining melted butter, and blend until smooth.
Pour the batter into the warmed muffin tin ⅔ full (each popover will expand) and return it to the oven to bake until golden, about 35 minutes. Remove from the oven and serve warm.
Another variation – Popovers with Ham and Cheese Omelet and Fresh Fruit

(David Libowitz)
From David Libowitz “Sugar-Crusted Popovers

Makes 9
Adapted from my recipe in The New York Times and Maida Heatter’s Great Book of Desserts.I thought these wouldn’t stay crisp for very long after they were baked and coated with the sugar. But the next morning, I was surprised when I pulled off a hunk and they’re weren’t bad. But they are the best the day they’re made; leftovers can be stored in a container and snacked on the next day. You could freeze them in zip-top bags as well.I don’t have popover tins, but found these work quite well in standard-sized muffin tins. For this recipe, feel free to use salted or unsalted butter, depending on your preference.
For the puffs:
2 tablespoons butter, melted
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup (250 ml) whole milk
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 cup (140g) flour
For the sugar-coating:
2/3 cup (130g) sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup (60g) melted butter
Softened butter, for greasing the pan
Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 400ºF (200ºC). Liberally grease a nonstick popover pan, or a muffin pan with 1/2-cup indentations,with softened butter.
2. For the puffs, put the 2 tablespoons melted butter, eggs, milk, salt and sugar in a blender and blend for a few seconds.
3. Add the flour and whiz for about 10 seconds, just until smooth.
4. Divide the batter among the 9 greased molds, filling each 1/2 to 2/3rds full.
5. Bake for 35 minutes, or until the puffs are deep brown.
6. Remove from the oven, wait a few minutes until cool enough to handle, then remove the popovers from the pans and set them on a cooling rack. If they’re stubborn, you may need a small knife or spatula to help pry them out.
7. Mix the sugar and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Thoroughly brush each popover all over with the 1/4 cup (60 g) of melted butter, then dredge each puff generously in the sugar and cinnamon mixture to coat them completely. Let cool on the wire rack.”

Berbere Spice Blend and Doro Wot – Chicken


Now is the time to add some spice to your life. At least the spices of North Africa – Ethiopia to be exact.

From Demand Africa, “In Amharic, the state language of Ethiopia, ‘barbare’ means pepper or hot. Not surprisingly, berbere spice, the flavor backbone of Ethiopian cooking, gives traditional Ethiopian dishes that fiery kick. Berbere’s constituent spice is paprika (itself a ground spice made from Capsicum peppers), but the final blend could be made from up to 20 spices.
Ethiopian cooks of old were not short of kitchen experiments, and over time have added garlic, ginger, fenugreek seeds, African basil, black and white cumin, nutmeg, cinnamon, clove, cardamom, coriander seed, thyme, rosemary, turmeric and ajwain (carom seeds commonly used in Indian cooking) to the mix. This allows berbere to impart a richer, aromatic and more layered flavor to any dish it’s added to, whether Ethiopian or not…Amharic language scholars speculate that the name ‘barbare’ came from ‘papare,’ the Ge’ez word for pepper (Ge’ez was the language of ancient Ethiopia). While that is likely lost in the mists of time, the more probable theory is that berbere came at a point in Ethiopia’s history when the independent Axumite kingdom controlled the Red Sea route to the Silk Road. The Axumites knew the secrets of the monsoon winds, and harnessed it to send their ships toward India in summer, and back again to Africa in winter…Berbere is the cornerstone spice blend of Ethiopia; without it, ‘doro wot’ or chicken stew (Ethiopia’s national dish) would not have that distinctive brick-red appearance and rustic, savory intensity.
Doro wot is cooked during traditional festivities and is typically served with injera, fermented sourdough flatbread with a slightly spongy texture that serves as the plate and scooping utensil for the stew. Doro wot is ladled generously on top of it and served alongside vegetables and other dips. (To eat injera, Ethiopians pinch off a piece of it and use the same to scoop out a small portion of the stew.)”

You can buy the spice blend in your grocery store – our Albertsons carries it – but it is more fun to make your own. All of these spices should be locally available.
Berbere Spice Mix
Prep Time: 5 min Total Time: 5 min
Ingredients:
1/2 c Chili Powder
1/4 c Paprika
1/2 t ground Ginger
1/2 t ground Cardamon
1/2 t ground Turmeric
1/2 t ground Coriander
1/2 t ground Fenugreek
1/4 t ground Cinnamon
1/4 t grated fresh Nutmeg
1/4 t ground Allspice
11/8 t ground Cloves
1/8 t fresh ground Black Pepper
Directions:
In a mixing bowl, combine all ingredients. Store in an airtight jar.

Ethiopian cuisine (Amharic: የኢትዮጵያ ምግብ) characteristically consists of vegetable and often very spicy meat dishes. This is usually in the form of wot, a thick stew, served atop injera, a large sourdough flatbread, which is about 20 inches in diameter and made out of fermented teff flour.

A recipe from African Bites for
Doro Wat
Ethiopian Chicken Stew -slowly simmered in a blend of robust spices. Easy thick, comforting, delicious, and so easy to make!
Prep Time: 20 mins Cook Time: 1 hr Total Time: 1 hr 20 mins Servings: 6
Calories: 470 Author: Immaculate Bites
Ingredients:
3 Tablespoons Spiced butter Sub with Cooking oil or more
2-3 medium onions sliced
1/4 cup canola oil
2 Tablespoons Berbere Spice (See above)
1 Tablespoon minced garlic
½ Tablespoon minced ginger
3- 3½- pound whole chicken cut in pieces or chicken thighs
1 Tablespoon tomato paste
½ Tablespoon paprika
1 Tablespoon dried basil optional
4-6 Large soft-boiled egg shelled removed
1-2 Lemons Freshly Squeezed (adjust to taste)
Salt and pepper to taste
Directions:
Season chicken with, salt, pepper and set aside
In a large pot, over medium heat, heat until hot, and then add spiced butter and onions, sauté onions, stirring frequently, until they are deep brown about 7 -10 minutes. After the onions are caramelized or reached a deep brown color, add some more oil, followed by berbere spice, garlic, and ginger.
Stir for about 2-3 minutes, for the flavors to blossom and the mixture has a deep rich brown color. Be careful not to let it burn.
Then add about 2-3 cups water .Add chicken, tomato paste, paprika, basil, salt and cook for about 30 minutes.
Throw in the eggs and lemon juice; thoroughly mix to ensure that the eggs are immersed in the sauce.
Continue cooking until chicken is tender about 10 minutes or more Adjust sauce thickness and seasoning with water or broth, lemon,salt according to preference.
Serve warm

Biscuits and Gravy Anyone?


And here are some recipes! From Jim Long’s Columns at Blogspot.
“The “real” gravy most of us in the Ozarks know and love is just plain sausage gravy. It’s simple, cheap and easy to make, yet this satisfying concoction has become almost impossible to find in restaurants. What you’ll find instead, is factory-made gravy out of a can. Wholesale restaurant suppliers deliver cases of gallon-sized cans of fake sausage gravy and all the “chef” has to do is to open the can, pour it into a pot and heat it…There are regional variations of the classic sausage gravy, with some folks adding onions, others adding a dash of cayenne pepper, others swearing fresh-cracked black pepper, or crushed red pepper is the only way to fix the gravy, but over all, the recipe for the real thing remains the same as it has for centuries.” [Jim Long’s Columns]

Sausage Gravy
Ingredients:

1 lbs Country Sausage (mild or hot)
3 T Flour
1/2 t fresh Nutmeg
Salt and lots of fresh ground black pepper
2 to 3 cups Whole Milk
Directions:
Crumble the raw sausage in a hot cast iron frying pan. Fry the sausage until there is no pink left. Add flour 1 tablespoon at a time, stirring quickly until a paste forms. Then add milk, 1 cup at a time and the nutmeg. Stir briskly and cook the mixture until it thickens. Then pour it over fresh-baked buttermilk biscuits, split in half, buttered or not.

A little biscuit history from Quora, “The American South has deep Scottish roots, and American biscuits are made in a very similar way to Scottish shortbread, so most likely the origin of biscuits is in Scottish shortbread. They brought the recipe over, and as dishes do, it evolved. A little more liquid turned the originally hard biscuit into a soft one…The ingredients of biscuits and gravy are all cheap and readily available. Pigs have been in America longer than the Puritans – originally brought to Jamestown in 1608. Other than that it’s pretty much just flour, milk and some salt and pepper. People brought their cooking methods over from Scotland and Northern England (hence the popularity of fried foods in the South), usually emphasizing the simpler dishes, cooking styles and ingredients. Over the decades of people making, perfecting and experimenting with the recipe, those original recipes and cooking methods evolved into the biscuits and gravy we know today. There’s some evidence people have been eating biscuits and gravy since before the Revolutionary War.”

Buttermilk Biscuits
Drop biscuits or rolled, your choice! And the biscuits? You can buy those canned, frozen, instant or bakery-made but the old-fashioned biscuit is as follows:
Ingredients:
2 c Flour
4 t Baking Powder
1/4 t Baking Soda
3/4 t Salt
2 T Butter
2 T lard or Crisco
1 c Buttermilk, chilled
Directions:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
In a mixing bowl, combine dry ingredients. With your fingertips, rub butter and shortening into dry ingredients until mixture looks like crumbs. Pour in the chilled buttermilk and stir to mix. Turn dough onto floured surface, dust with flour and fold dough over on itself 4 or 5 times. Roll out with a rolling-pin or quart fruit jar until the dough is about an inch thick. Cut out biscuits with 2-inch cutter and place biscuits on a baking sheet so the biscuits are just touching. Bake until golden and fluffy, about 15-20 minutes.

Biscuits and Sausage Gravy with Hollandaise Sauce
Make the gravy while the biscuits are baking. This isn’t health food, but it certainly is a satisfying breakfast! Add some eggs and bacon and a few cups of coffee and you are tasting a real Ozarks tradition.

Just don’t confuse Sawmill Gravy with Sausage Gravy. They are not the same.
“During the early years of America, many logging camps sprung up in the mountains where virgin timber was found. In these lumber camps, cooks would prepare breakfast for a hundred or more lumberjacks. One of the common foods was gravy made from coarsely ground cornmeal. When made from whole grain cornmeal, this gravy was very nutritious and would give the lumberjacks strength to do their jobs.
This gravy’s name comes from the fact that these men worked at a saw mill, and sometimes when the gravy would be coarse and thick, the lumberjacks would accuse the cooks of substituting sawdust for cornmeal.

Cornmeal Gravy, aka Sawmill Gravy
Sawmill Gravy
Ingredients:

1 tablespoon bacon drippings
3 heaping tablespoons white cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups milk
dash of pepper
Directions:
Place bacon drippings in a pan. Add cornmeal and salt. Cook on medium heat, stirring until brown. Add milk and let boil until it thickens, stirring vigorously to keep it from lumping. Season with pepper to taste.” From: “Smithsonian Folklife Cookbook”, Recipe from Janice Miracle, Middlesboro, Kentucky.

Indian Food and Spices, Anyone?


When I was 15 – many, many years ago – I had the awesome experience of living in India for a year. We were 120 mo;es SW of New Delhi in the state of Rajasthan and the town of Pilani. It was absolutely a wonderful year for me. I met Jawaharlal Nehru – First Prime Minister of India, Rajendra Prasad – Former and First President of India, Lady Mountbatten, Haile Selassie – Former Emperor of Ethiopia and several other heads of state. The people and the food was superb. I will never forget, and have not forgotten, the people and the food. When I walk into an Indian restaurant here in Boise, or overall in the USA, I want to smell the fenugreek and the spices. Then I know it is authentic. If in Boise, go into the Bombay Grill at 10th and Main and inhale the spice odors. There you will be introduced to true and authentic Indian cuisine. Or into the Punjab Market in Yuba City, CA. If you want some really good Indian recipes that use these spice blends or you want to learn how to make Naan, look at Demuths Blog Indian Recipes.

Indian spices

Here are two very basic, but very good, Indian spice recipes from the Southern India area. (The blends will differ from area to area.) [Demuths Blog] Most, if not all of these spices, can be found in an Indian or Asian market.

Homemade Curry Powder
An essential ingredient for numerous Indian recipes.
Ingredients:
1 T whole Coriander Seeds
1 T whole Cumin Seeds
1 t whole Black Peppercorns
1 t whole brown Mustard Seeds
2 t whole Fenugreek Seeds
3 hot dried Red Chillies, crumbled. Careful!
3/4 t ground Turmeric
Directions:
Dry fry all the spices except the turmeric until fragrant, but don’t let them brown as it will ruin the flavor.
Add the turmeric and quickly stir. Decant onto a plate and leave to cool.
Grind in a spice grinder/coffee grinder as finely as possible. Store in an airtight container.

Homemade Garam Masala Powder (Bese Bele)
This is an aromatic sweet blend of spices favored by the Brahmins of Bangalore. Used in numerous Indian recipes, including our masala dosas and masala vada (split pea dumplings in masala gravy).
Ingredients:
1 T Cardamom Seeds
1 t whole Cloves
1 t Black Peppercorns
1″ stick of Cinnamon
1/3 of a Nutmeg
a curl of mace
1 sm dried Chilli
6 Curry Leaves
1 T un-sweetened Coconut Flakes
Directions:
Dry fry all the spices until fragrant, take off the heat and add the coconut flakes. Grind in a spice grinder/coffee grinder as finely as possible.
Store in an airtight container.

Marsala Spices

Masala Spice Mix – Northern Indian Curry powder
Ingredients – Whole Spices:
2 T Coriander Seeds
1 T Cumin Seeds
1/2 Cinnamon Stick
1 t Fennel Seeds
1 t Mustard Seeds
1 t Fenugreek Seeds
1 t Kalongi/Nigela (A common ingredient in Middle Eastern cuisine, it is in the same family as caraway, dill or parsley. Cumin seeds are a good substitute because they have a peppery and nutty flavor that is similar to nigella seeds.)
10 Curry Leaves
1 Bay Leaf
Ingredients – Ground Spices:
1 t ground Turmeric
1 t ground Ginger
1 t Chilli Powder
pinch of salt
Directions:
Dry fry the whole spices, until fragrant, cool and grind. Add the ground spices and mix in. This will store in airtight container for a month, or you can make a paste.
To make a paste mix the spice blend with a little vinegar and water until it resembles a paste. Leave to stand for 10 minutes.
Heat some oil in a pan and add the paste. Gently stir fry for about 5 minutes until the paste start to make a bubbling noise.
Remove from heat and leave to cool. The oil should rise to the surface.
Store in sterilized jars. The layer of oil on top adds to the storing process. Keep in the fridge.