What’s in my spice box?

I love to try recipes from around the world so my spice box overfloweth with many spices from all over the world ranging from India, Mexico, South America, France, Italy, Greece, Ethiopia, North America and many more.

The spices that are used in India are so varied that they differ immensely not only between the North, and South but from State to State as well as between the different cultures, sects and groups of people. All this is further diversified not only by the influence of immigrant cultures ranging from Persians, Mughals, British, Greeks, Romans, and neighboring Chinese but also from the inter mixing of the internal cultures prevalent within India itself. With the advent of the Internet all this has exploded to immeasurable proportions!

The typical South Indian spice box is very basic. The following are the key ingredients that are frequently  used for all the varied cooking needs.

  1. Chana dal (Split chick pea)
  2. Urad dal (dehusked split black gram)
  3. Cumin seeds
  4. Coriander seeds
  5. Whole dry red chilli
  6. Whole black pepper
  7. Mustard seeds
  8. Fenugreek seeds

The most frequently used powders in almost every dish include: turmeric and asafoetida.

In addition to the above there are a few key powders that are used in different recipes:

  1. Kura karam (curry powder) — the south Indian version of this is completely different from the North Indian version. It contains the ingredients listed above from 1-5  that are dry roasted and ground.
  2. Sambhar powder — again contains the same 1-6 ingredients in different measures.
  3. Rasam powder — again contains the same 1-6 ingredients in different measures
  4. Sesame seed powder — dry roasted seasame powdered is usually sprinkled on some curries for added flavor
  5. Red Chilli powder — the heat in the South Indian recipes comes from raw red chilli powder
  6. Peanut powder — dry roasted peanuts are ground and usually sprinkled on some curries or used in chutneys
  7. Mustard seed powder — mustard seeds powdered are usually used in curries, pickles and pulusu (tamarind based curries)
  8. Fenugreek seed powder — powdered and usually used in pickles