Bhuna Jeera.

I realized that I have not posted any Indian recipes. In a loooong time. And I have not posted anything masala, even though my blog is named Masala Art. I’ve been so caught up baking (the bug has bitten me hard) that I’ve just stopped trying out desi recipes for my blog. Tsk tsk. Especially since I eat Indian food 4 times a week, at least.

I thought I’d share an easy condiment/spice powder: bhuna jeera. It’s just roasted cumin, but it is quite wonderful. Indian cooking uses a lot of cumin seed and cumin powder anyway, but once roasted and ground, cumin takes on a different flavour with more depth. I’m not trying to be phancy and act all Kylie Kwong-y with my use of adjectives, but that is the only way I can describe it.

I first sampled bhuna jeera or roasted cumin powder at my best friend M’s home, her mom always had a jar of it in the kitchen. We’d usually sprinkle it over boondi raita or set curd.

The past few weeks I had been searching for bhuna jeera, but only found regular cumin powder at stores. And then I realized I was being a dumbass. This was something I should be making at home, not searching for in a supermarket. I already had cumin seeds (almost every Indian kitchen does) and I had a wok and a blender. That’s all I needed!

BHUNA JEERA

INGREDIENTS

Cumin seeds. As much as you like.

METHOD

All you need to do is take the cumin seeds and dry roast them in a wok on medium heat until they turn blackish. Pull them off the heat immediately, and grind them with the help of a blender, or if you have the patience, a mortar and pestle. Avoid going berserk and pounding it to dust; keep it coarse and a little grainy. It’s more fun that way. Trust me.

However, if you are someone who detests texture and enjoys dusty spice powders, be my guest and pound away. (That did not sound very ladylike. Excuse me. I just had a shot of iced coffee, no sugar, with twice the amount of decoction I normally put in.)

Roasted cumin powder adds a nice, rich, smokey flavour to whatever it touches; plus it has a beautiful nutty fragrance. Some fun stuff you can do with it:

  • Sprinkle it over thick-set curd.
  • Steamed basmati rice + a dab of butter + a teaspoon of bhuna jeera is oh-so-comforting.
  • Sautee some chopped onions and tomatoes with mustard seeds, salt, chilli powder and bhuna jeera, put it between 2 slices of toasted bread with a little cilantro and you have a very nice vegetarian sandwich. (Which may be perceived as exotic depending on where you live. I’m just saying.)
  • Fresh slices of paneer (cottage cheese) seasoned with salt, pepper and bhuna jeera make a nice snack, too.

Now, I need to post a recipe using some of this!

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How To Melt Chocolate: Some Tips

photo courtesy | tipnut.com

In my last post, I shared some chocolate candy which I was quite proud of. What I didn’t share were some of the finer (read slightly disastrous) details of the candy making process. Mainly the ‘melting chocolate’ part.

Melting chocolate can be tricky- whether in the form of chips, buttons or finely chopped cooking chocolate. The mixture can coagulate and thicken into a mess quite easily if you don’t do it right. While I was trying to melt my first batch of chocolate, it coagulated and I couldn’t rescue it. A sad waste of three-fourths of a cup of good quality dark chocolate chips! So to avoid what happened to me, I thought I would post a few tips here.

1. Use a double boiler. If you do not own one (I don’t either,) then you can use a DIY boiler by placing a bowl or cup above a saucepan with water in it. Here’s how.

2. Use gentle heat. With chocolate, you don’t want to get the pan too hot. Chocolate scorches easily, so the water in your double boiler needs to be on a simmer, not boiling and bubbling like the witches’ cauldron from Macbeth. If you are using a DIY double boiler, the bowl or cup should not directly touch the water.

3. Stir the chocolate periodically, with dry utensils. A clean, dry wooden spoon is best for this. (In my picture you can see I used a metal spoon, but that is just bad physics and slight idiocy. I shouldn’t have done that. Use a wooden spoon- it is not a conductor of heat!)

4. Do not add water to melting chocolate. This is a recipe for disaster. (I know; I added water to my first batch of melting chocolate and was sorry a few seconds later.) A few drops of water can make the chocolate harden and turn lumpy. Even the steam from the water in your double boiler can cause the chocolate to toughen up. In case something like this does happen, you can add some vegetable oil to help smoothen out the chocolate. (I’ve tried this and it works.)

5. Get a tutorial if you can! If you are melting chocolate for the first time and are unsure, ask someone, read a tutorial or watch a step-by-step video. I should have done this before I started on my first batch!

Sources allchocolate.com; dianasdesserts.com

Here’s a youtube video I found from Epicurious which will help.

Now you can melt away!