Chef’s table: spices 101

Chef’s table: spices 101 [ad_1]

Seven cooks, seven spices and 7 dishes the place they’re the hero ingredient. Tempted?

Who higher than cooks to present us the within scoop on the place to supply the very best spices. From Kashmiri saffron to Kerala’s spicy kandhari chillies, right here’s a fast information that will help you top off the spice field.


Chef’s table: spices 101

(*101*)(*101*)Kandhari chilli(*101*)es, (*101*)Netta, close to (*101*)Thiruvananthapuram

(*101*)Regi Mathew — culinary director, Kappa Chakka Kandhari, Chennai-Bengaluru

Before he began the restaurant, Mathew travelled the size and breadth of Kerala, exploring the meals and the elements out there. In Netta (the place he’s from) he sampled tribal cooking. “I found that they use wild and naturally-grown spices, which they crush and apply on meat or fish before grilling it on river stones,” he says, including that the kandhari chilli stood out. “The chillies grow wild in the forests and the rubber estates. Today, both the tribals and the estate workers forage and bring them to us.”

(*101*)Plated(*101*): “Inspired by the tribals’ masala, I came up with our kandhari and gooseberry mix, which we use in our Fish Nellika Masala.”


Chef’s table: spices 101

(*101*)Naga chillies, Jorhat, Assam

(*101*)(*101*)Amninder Sandhu(*101*) — (*101*)c(*101*)hef-(*101*)accomplice(*101*), (*101*)Iktara, (*101*)Mumbai

“I use Naga King chillies [or bhoot jolokia, ghost peppers] because of its smokiness and potency,” says Sandhu. Since there are “multiple hybrid varieties of bhoot jolokia floating around, I source all my chillies from my mum’s tree and garden in Jorhat, Assam — because the region of origin [and seasonality] are key while sourcing Naga King chillies”.

(*101*)Plated(*101*): Sandhu makes use of the spicy condiment in her standard Naga Pork.

Also read: Find your flavour — a guide to heirloom spice mixes


Chef’s table: spices 101

(*101*)Sprouted fenugreek seeds, Mainaki, Rajasthan

(*101*)Vanshika Bhatia — chef-co-owner, Together At twelfth, Gurugram

Bhatia remembers her grandparents soaking fenugreek in water in a single day and ingesting the essence. “Dieticians also recommend this because it is good for the digestive systems, reduces water retention and inflammation in the body,” she says. The chef makes use of fenugreek seeds, sourced from Tijara Farm, which are sprouted and dried for a richer, deeper flavour. Details: @tijaraorganic

(*101*)Plated(*101*): “We use it in our Karnataka-style Coconut Stew with white pumpkin and Malabar spinach. Sprouted fenugreek seeds and fennel are the main spice.”

(*101*)Timur, Shillong

Though wild Himalayan timur, the Indian Sichuan pepper, grows in Uttarakhand, Bhatia sources hers from Shillong. “It’s just more zingy,” she says, including that moreover its pepperiness, the timur from the Northeast additionally has a floral flavour. “I think it’s the soil and the rains that they get that adds to it.”

(*101*)Plated(*101*): “The timur’s peppery-floral notes really complement the flavour of my pork belly dish.”

Chef’s table: spices 101

(*101*)(*101*)Hemp (*101*)hearts(*101*), (*101*)U(*101*)ttarakhand

(*101*)(*101*)Dhruv Oberoi (*101*)— (*101*)h(*101*)ead (*101*)c(*101*)hef, (*101*)Olive (*101*)Bar & Kitchen, New Delhi

While they supply most of their spices from their common vendor, Oberoi has found a couple of trusted folks from farmers markets. And, most lately, from Instagram! “A little over six months ago, I came across The Big Bhaang Theory [who sell hemp seeds, hearts and oil] and reached out to them. Hemp seeds are like coriander seeds, hard and tough to eat [best used in a tadka]. But this brand breaks the seeds open and removes the heart, which has a very unique, nutty flavour. I was going to launch my new summer menu with them, but that’s on hold for now.” Details: @tbbtindia

(*101*)Plated(*101*): “Hemp hearts are a key component in my Crispy Fried Poached Egg with Forest Mushroom and Hemp Allioli.”

Chef’s table: spices 101

(*101*)Mulethi, Himachal

“I came across this little old Ayurvedic shop while I was wandering in Old Delhi’s alleyways some time ago, and they stock mulethi brought down from Himachal. I’m big on Ayurveda now, because of its health benefits, and I make emulsions and dressings with mulethi. Since it can be used instead of licorice, I switch out the essence and use mulethi instead.”

(*101*)Plated(*101*): Scallop and Mulethi Smoked Chicken Wings with Fennel Compote


Chef’s table: spices 101

(*101*)Lakadong turmeric, Meghalaya

(*101*)(*101*)Tanisha Phanbuh(*101*) (*101*)— h(*101*)ome catering (*101*)and meals (*101*)pop-up(*101*)s

Phanbuh, who’s from Meghalaya, promotes the meals, meals practices and tradition of the Northeast via her label, Tribal Gourmet. “Lakadong turmeric has a GI tag; only the ones from this area has the highest percentage of curcumin in the world,” she explains. “I source mine from the villagers in Jaintia Hills. Unlike other parts of the country, here the villagers collectively look after a particular crop.” Details: @tribalgourmet

(*101*)Plated(*101*): “Khasi food is simple. Turmeric, black pepper and ginger are the main ingredients that go into practically everything. I use the turmeric in ja stem, a simple rice dish that is cooked in meat stock, with lashings of the fragrant root.”

Also read: Find your flavour — a guide to heirloom spice mixes


Chef’s table: spices 101

(*101*)Saffron, Kashmir

(*101*)Sareen Madhiyan — government chef, Punjab Grill

“I’ve been using Kashmiri saffron in my recipes for a long time. Sourced from small farmers in Karewa in Northwest Kashmir, who have been growing the purple crocus flowers for generations, I find that the appropriateness of the environment and the nature of soil significantly affect the quality and size of stigmas. Besides its fascinating flavour and smell, it has a dark maroon-purple colour, a benchmark of the finest quality.”

(*101*)Plated(*101*): “I use Kashmiri saffron in my biryanis and kebabs, and it perfectly complements our desserts, especially the ras malai.”


Chef’s table: spices 101

(*101*)Kokum, Wayanad

(*101*)(*101*)Babu Abdullah — government chef, (*101*)Gateway Hotel (*101*)Calicut

“Some of the best kokum is produced in Kerala. Traditionally, they are processed in Pala, Kottayam, but around 70 years ago, a few farmers migrated from Central Travancore and brought the sun-dried spice to the Malabar region,” explains Abdullah, who sources his from small farmers in Kodanchery, on the best way to Wayanad. “The kokum trees grow in their rubber and coffee plantations, and they pick the ripe fruits and process them. The production is small-scale but the quality is extremely good. When it is mass produced, often unripe fruit also get processed, which gives kokum a bitter flavour.”

(*101*)Plated(*101*): “I use it mainly in our meen vattichathu. The dish doesn’t have a sauce, and it is kind of cured, but when you add this kokum, it imparts a delicious smoky flavour.”


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