Through The Looking Glass

"See the world through the eyes of a creative contributor who loves to illustrate the small
adventures that life creates. My hope is to put down in words and portraits especially those things that are apparent yet not always on parchment. Today unique thoughts, accounts, illustrations, and experiences may not remain distinctive but satisfaction can still be derived from the recognizable sentiment of them and from the faithful bonds they create."

Sunday, April 11, 2010

~A Chef's Pallet~

Cooking Indian food is a delight! It is sometimes more joyful when my spices are organized. Introducing the chef's pallet! I didn't have this in my early experimentation of Indian food but today it is a precious and very useful component of the artistry. Each little bowl holds the spices I use most and since this picture was taken, it has been re-arranged. At home, in India, a lot of the spices are prepared fresh off the stone, and finely powdered over the fire. Alas, that is not the case in my kitchen, so I have bought most of these spices at the Indian store. Different chefs may find other spices more important but here is what continues to work well for me.

  • Top right, at about 1 O'clock, (but now placed in the middle), Mustard Seeds: useful for letting you know when the oil is hot enough. Gives a pleasant aroma to the oil. Should splutter, otherwise give off a bitter taste.
  • At about 4 O'clock, Turmeric: applied on brides and even grooms before their wedding day to make their skin glow. It is used in nearly every Indian dish, in curries and pickles. Usually you only need about a tsp. for the color. Not too much more since it leaves a bitter taste and can cause your teeth to stain yellow! Try not to get it on any kitchen surfaces due to its staining action.
  • At almost 6 O'clock, Jeera or Cumin Seeds: Not to be confused for caraway seeds, cumin seeds are used for their distinct aroma. Used in many different curries and usually added with or after mustard seeds into the heated oil.
  • At 8 O'salt, Salt: Ah! Where would we be without this pure looking taste of food! But too much can eventually cause high blood pressure so please watch your salt intake and taste your cuisine frequently to add just enough.
  • At about 10 O'clock, Red Chili Powder: Adding spicy hotness to your curry! 
  • At about 12 O'clock, Garam Masala: Literally "Hot Mixture," are a blend of various spices and are made very differently in all parts of India. The masala shown (homemade from India) probably has cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, pepper corns, and other things, roasted into a fine powder over a hot gas stove. Garam masala is used in different curries but look for it in vegetable and other dishes I cook.
  • In the middle (but now to the side) Black Pepper Powder: This powdered pepper is derived from black peppercorns which are dried and crushed into fine powder. Pepper is used as a seasoning and can be added into different foods, including fried cuisine. 

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