THEME: #278 SPICE MIX SECRETS
RECIPE: BIRYANI MASALA
What is Biryani Masala?
Biryani Masala is a blend of aromatic spices in varying proportion that are roasted and powdered. Biryani Masala is the spice powder or blend that is commonly used to add to biryani or rice dishes. Masala is the term used in the Indian SubContinent for spice blends or spice powders. To give any biryani dish that spicy, aromatic, exquisite, distinct taste adding Biryani Masala is a must.
Here are some of the Biryanis that I add Homemade Biryani Masala to:
- Kabuli Chana Biryani/ Chickpea Biryani
- I add some whenever I prepare Heni’s Paneer Dum Biryani
- Egg Biryani
Spice Blends, Spice Powders, Masalas, Podi
Whatever the name used for these spice and herb blends or mixtures, every Continent or Region has its own mixtures that they are well known for. However, that does not mean that these areas are restricted to one spice blend or mixture but may have several. Take the Indian SubContinent, there are so many different spice mixtures or masalas.
Homemade vs Ready made
Nowadays there are several companies, small businesses, that prepare spice mixtures and sell them. Over the years there has been much improvement in how the spice mixtures are prepared and packed to maintain freshness and fragrance. Ready made spices are a boon considering our busy lives.
My Personal Choice
I personally, make use of both homemade and ready made spice mixtures. I make spice mixtures that I don’t get readily in my area. Some I make so I can add a bit more of what spice or spices I prefer. I don’t like spice blends that are full of chilis, so prefer to make them at home. To use ready made or home made spice powders is entirely a personal choice. If I’m going to try a spice mixture from another cuisine, I initially would prefer to buy readymade initially as that gives me an idea how it tastes. Sometimes, I may not get the specific spice or herb and therefore buy readymade.
FoodieMonday/ Bloghop Group
Wondering why I’m talking about spice mixtures this week? Well, the group’s 278th theme Spice Mix Secrets has been suggested by Aruna. Aruna blogs at Vasusvegkitchen. While her Garlic and Dry Coconut Powder (Velluli Kobbari karam) has been on my list to try out, I’ve added her Tomato Bath (Tomato Rice) to the list.
Growing up I remember helping my mum to prepare spice powders at home. She would make jar full of the spices. Back then she didn’t have spice blender or any of the modern gadgets that we have today. She used a mortar and pestle to grind the spices. Using mortar and pestle made from heavy stone, she would pound the spices. Sometimes, we siblings took turns to pound the spice especially when she would complain that her hands are hurting. She would dry fresh turmeric roots and red chilis in the sun for days. Once completely dry, the pounding would begin. These were made in huge quantities to last the whole year.
Spice Mixtures/ Spice Powders you may want to check out:
- Dhana Jiru or Coriander Cumin Powder is a must for the Gujarati Cuisine
- Gujarati Garam Masala is my personal spice blend which I worked on till I got the blend to my liking. I use it for rice dishes, curries and dals.
- Thandai Masala or Powder – generally used around Holi time for various Thandai based dishes right from cold milk to cakes.
- I prefer to make my own Tea Masala or Chai Spice Mixture as readymade ones tend to have less of cardamom and pepper.
- Ras El Hanout – this famous Moroccan Spice mIxture can vary from a couple of spice mixtures to 30 different spices. Depending on who has made the spice blend, the flavors will vary. I usually make a seven spice blend for Moroccan Soups, Salads, and Stews.
- Kolhapuri Spice Mixture or Masala – especially used for making Kolhapuri Style dishes.
- Gingerbread Spice Mixture – for cookies, breads, etc
- Panch Phoron/ Phutana – used either as whole spices or blend in the East Region of India.
- Pumpkin Pie Spice Mixture – used for pumpkin pies, cookies, breads, drinks, cakes, etc.
Ingredients required for Biryani Masala/Spice Powder
- Cinnamon – taj, cut into smaller pieces
- Black Cardamom – also known as badi elachi, Elcho, it tastes different from the normal cardamom that we know of
- Cardamom – Elachi, use with the pods.
- Black Pepper – peppercorns or mari.
- Cloves – laving
- Nutmeg – jaiphal. I prefer to grate it and add the required amount to the spice blend
- Mace – Javantri – break up the mace before measuring
- Fennel Seeds – valiyari
- Cumin Seeds– jeera
- Coriander Seeds – dhana
- Bay Leaves – tej patta
- Dry Red Chillis – I prefer using Kashmiri Chillis are they are not fiery hot. I add only one or two of the fiery variety like Guntur or Teja or any other hot variety.
- Star Anise – chakri/chakra phool
- Turmeric – since I don’t have whole dry turmeric I usually add the powder
BIRYANI MASALA/ BIRYANI SPICE POWDER
- 4 bay leaves
- 4 tbsp coriander seeds
- 2 tbsp cumin seeds
- 2 tbsp fennel seeds
- 2 star anise
- 4 -6 red chillis dry
- 1 tbsp mace
- 4 black cardamom
- 2 inch cinnamon stick
- 12 cardamom
- 1 tsp nutmeg powder
- 1 tsp black pepper
- ½ tsp turmeric powder
- 1 tsp cloves
- Put the whole spices (not the powdered ones) into a wide pan or frying pan.
- Put the pan over medium to low heat.
- Constantly mixing, roast the spices for 1-2 minutes or till you get the aroma of the roasted spices.
- Transfer the roasted spices to a plate and allow it to cool.
- Add the spices to a spice or coffee grinder along with nutmeg and turmeric powders.
- Blend to a fine powder.
- Allow the powder to cool down a bit.
- Store in an airtight container like a jar till required.
- Roast the spices over low heat as you don't want to burn them and keep on stirring them constantly.
- Store the spice powder in an airtight container to maintain freshness and fragrance.
- Adjust spices according to your taste.
- I live in a hot and humid place so I store spice mixtures in the fridge.
- If you have access to black stone flower or dagad phool, then add about a teaspoonful. It gives a lovely aroma and flavour especially if you're going to use biryani masala for meat or chicken biryani.
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