Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Easy All-Purpose Masala Paste (Indian Spice Paste)

This is from my mom. Every household in India has at least one version of all-purpose masala. The handling of spices is for most part learned from observing how the elders in the house are cooking and eating the food made by them. Yes, we train implicitly from early on :) But, hey, I'm not complaining about it!

This paste can be used almost in every curry, pulao (yes pulao too!). Don't be put off by the list of ingredients. Once you have all of them, you are just few minutes away from the paste. The amount and choice of spices can be changed according to personal tastes. If using in a dish for kids, moderate the amount of cloves, peppers and chillies.

What you need to make this paste:

1medium sized Onion, roughly chopped
1 medium sized Tomato, roughly chopped
1 inch Ginger piece, roughly chopped
4 - 5 cloves Garlic
1/2 cup Mint leaves (optional)
4 green Chilies
1/4 cup grated fresh Coconut or 3 tablespoons dry coconut.

2 tablespoons Coriander/Cilantro seeds
1 tablespoon Jeera/Cumin seeds
1/2 Star Anise
1/2 tsp Nutmeg powder
4 - 5 teaspoon Cloves
1/2 inch Cinnamon piece
2 - 4  Cardamoms (elaichi)
1 dry Bay leaf
8 -10 Cashew halves

How to prepare:
Roast all dry spices and cashews in a saute-pan.
Mix all ingredients including the dry spices, add 1/2 cup water and grind fine in a blender. Do not add too much water. Add water only if the blender is not moving well. When using in curries or pulao, this paste needs to be cooked in couple of tablespoons of oil to extract the flavor.
This makes approximately 2 1/2 - 3 cups of paste. You may store it in refrigerator for 2 -3 days or in freezer up to a month.

Alternately, you can saute onions, tomato, ginger and garlic in 2 tbsp oil with salt, cool and grind together with dry roasted spices, cashews. Of course, with some water! This version keeps in refrigerator up to a week.


Khaoo said...

1/4 of a whole nutmeg? Is that right? Or is a tsp or tbsp missing?


Vani said...

Yes. 1/4th of whole nutmeg. Break a nutmeg and guesstimate 1/4th of it. :-)

Anonymous said...

Hi , I liked ur post particularly the way you specify the original names. and here I have a request for a recipe.

l am looking for recipe " tamarind and masala undalu" to use in dal( pappu) which reduces the process of making tamarind dal. these masala undalu are particularly used by people from rayalaseema.. (and it will be consistent all the times.