Popular spice blends

Discover flavours from around the world with these popular spice blend seasonings. Before you know it, you will be on a cultural journey of taste. These indian spice blends will have you cooking your favourite dishes in the kitchen whether that be a classic Indian curry or a spicy fajita wrap. We are constantly updating this page with new seasonings from different countries and will show you how to use them!

Tandoori Indian spice blend

Tandoori Indian spice blend

This recipe makes about 200g of tandoori spice blend, which is enough to cook about 40 portions. Traditionally an orange food colouring is added to give tandoori food its signature look, but it is not needed. You can use this seasoning to make tandoori chicken, tandoori paneer or even the popular chicken tikka masala. Tandoori spice blend can sometimes contain other ingredients such as turmeric or cinnamon, depending on the dishes it will be used for. 

Ingredients

  • Paprika (3 tbsp)
  • Ground coriander (3 tbsp)
  • Ground cumin (3 tbsp)
  • Ground ginger (2 tbsp)

Method

Mix all spices in a bowl, then add to a spice jar and store in a cool dark place. 

IS TANDOORI SPICE THE SAME AS GARAM MASALA? 

No. The spice blends are both Indian, but they are made from different spices. For example, garam masala is made from coriander seeds, cumin seeds, black peppercorns, cinnamon, cloves, brown cardamom, nutmeg, bay leaves and ginger. In comparison, tandoori spice is made from paprika, coriander, cumin and ginger. 

WHY DOES MY TANDOORI SPICE NOT TASTE RIGHT? 

Many factors could be negatively affecting the flavour. You will likely miss out on that real fire smoke flavour if you are cooking tandoori dishes and not cooking foods in a tandoori oven. A great way to get that flavour without fire is to opt for smoked paprika instead of regular or use smoked salt. The smoke flavour from the herbs will add that smokiness that your food is missing.

WHERE DID TANDOORI SPICE ORIGINATE? 

Kundan Lala Gujral invented the deep red spice in Peshawar, Pakistan, in the late 20th century. 

WHY IS HOMEMADE TANDOORI SPICE BETTER THAN SHOP BROUGHT? 

A homemade spice blend made to a recipe will contain the right flavours to achieve perfect results when cooking specific dishes. Shop brought spice blends may have other ingredients used to bulk out the spices; it could even have additives added to it, such as silicon dioxide, which is used as an anti-caking agent to prevent spices from sticking together.

They may also have added sugar and salt that you cannot remove once added, and also, the spices may have been blended a long time ago, making the spices less fresh and flavourless. A fresh homemade blend will always taste better than store brought. 

WHAT CAN BE SUBSTITUTED FOR TANDOORI SPICE? 

Whilst we wouldn’t recommend substituting it for one ingredient, if you had to, you would be best swapping it out for paprika or a 50/50 combination of ground cumin and ground coriander. 

Panch Phoron Bengali spice blend 

panch phoron

This spice blend is an easy Bengali spice blend recipe that uses equal parts of each ingredient, which means you can make up a small or big batch with ease, depending on the dish you are planning to cook. To make it, mix the ingredients in a bowl and use right away or store them in a spice jar for use later on. 

Unlike other Indian spice blends, Panch Phoron is always used whole and is never ground up. It can be used with vegetables, roasted potatoes, meat, fish, lentils and pickles - the traditional way to use the spice blend is to fry it in oil or ghee to flavour the oil before cooking other ingredients. The spice blend can be used as a marinade for meat. Most curries in India contain Panch Phoron. Despite its popularity, this spice blend is not commonly found in supermarkets. Most of the spice blends pungency comes from the mustard. The spice blend is also known as the Bengali five-spice. 

Ingredients 

  • Cumin seeds (1 tsp)
  • Fennel seeds (1 tsp)
  • Fenugreek seeds (1 tsp)
  • Mustard seeds (1 tsp)
  • Wild onion seeds (1 tsp)

Method

Combine all of the ingredients, and it is ready to use.

What can I substitute for Panch Phoron?

A great alternative to the spice blend is garam masala or curry powder.

Is panch phoron healthy?

the spice blend is healthy and is known for lowering cholesterol, regulating blood sugar levels, and boosting digestion, aiding in weight loss.

Are onion seeds the same as nigella seeds and black sesame seeds?

Onion seeds are also known as kalonji, black onion seed or black caraway. It is from the same family as black cumin and looks the same as black sesame seeds and nigella seeds, however they are different. The Latin name for black sesame seeds is (sesame Indicicum), black nigella seeds have the name (Nigella sativa) and onion seeds have various names.

The confusion comes from the fact that various sources on the internet including some google searches are wrong; stating that nigella seeds and onion seeds are the same but they are not. Despite their differences, you can substitute onions seeds for nigella or black sesame seeds in the recipe without too much difference in taste.

Garam masala Indian spice blend

Garam masala Indian spice blend

Garam masala is an Indian spice blend that typically contains cinnamon, cardamom, mustard seeds, coriander seeds, nutmeg, cloves, and bay leaves. There are different variations of garam masala and what you find in the store is different to what can be made from home. Freshness is the most important aspect with garam masala. Grinding your own spices will result in a better quality garam masala. Some spice blends are simple and others are more complex. This blend is easy to make. 

If you are passionate about cooking Indian dishes then homemade garam masala is a must. you can use it to make curries, lentil dishes, Indian omelette, soups as well as many starters and side dishes. Garam masala can also be used as a substitute for tikka masala. 

How to make Garam Masala (video) 

Ingredients 

  • Coriander seeds (30g) 
  • Cumin seeds (30g)
  • Black peppercorns (12g
  • Cinnamon bark (7g)
  • Cloves (7g)
  • Brown cardamom (7g)
  • Nutmeg (3g)
  • Bay leaves (3g)
  • Ground ginger (4g)

Method

Gather all of the ingredients and roast all of the spices except the ginger in the oven at 160.C (gas mark 3) for about 10 minutes. Remove the aromatic spices from the oven, allow them to cool and grind in a spice grinder. 

Once they have been grinned add the ginger, mix well and store in a spice jar. These spices will last for a very long time but if you do prefer the fresh garam masala you should consider making a new batch every few months.

What Spices Go In a Masala Dabba?

 What Spices Go In a Masala Dabba?

a masala dabba spice box was designed to keep spices fresh and it is used mainly in Indian kitchens. A typical masaladabbi has seven cups inside a round or square box. The size of the box varies from 7” to 12” in diameter. Typically once you own one of these, you can buy a collection of spices for your dabba.

Whilst masala dabba tins vary, typically they are made from stainless steel, the lid keeps the spices fresh by sealing over the top and as they are all close together, the spices do not make a mess. If you are wondering what type of dabba to get, you should make sure to get one that has a metal lid, if it is see-through sunlight may damage the spices.

Usually, you get a little metal spice spoon that measures half a teaspoon with it, it is cute but not as nice as our Indian made olive wood Nyeri spice spoons. 

I have seen a masala dabba in many films and they are becoming more popular making their way in to more and more movies. I first saw the masala dabba in a movie called the hundred foot journey, and honestly, seeing these Indian spice pots inspired me to cook traditional indian food.

I've always had Indian spices in our pantry ready to cook up a storm but never owned a dabba until now. I recently got one for a birthday gift and now I like to keep it full of the right spices. That being said, if you find yourself cooking dishes from other cultures quite a lot, you may want to customise your dabba with spices that are right for you that suit your lifestyle. 

In your dabba you can keep ground or whole spices, however we highly recommend keeping the spices whole simply because once ground the flavour will slowly lose its potency. With whole spices, they stay fresher for longer and if you need them whole in a recipe they are ready to use, if you need them ground you can place them in a spice grinder and they are ready. Whole spices are multipurpose and are more useful. 

The thing that's great about having a dedicated tin for just indian spices is that instead of going in to the cupboard and feeling overwhelmed by the large collection of different herbs and spices that I have; I know that if I am cooking an indian dish, I can reach for my masala dabba and it will likely have everything that I need in it. 

Ingredients

    • Mustard seeds.
    • Cardamom.
    • Turmeric.
    • Red Chilli Powder.
    • Cumin Seeds.
    • Coriander seeds or ground coriander.
    • Course Garam Masala

    How much does a dabba cost?

    A dabba spice tin typically costs between £12 - £30. The highest priced dabba I have seen was £165, it was an antique made in the 1800s and was a tribal made wooden box with a lid. Not worth the price unless you are a collector or intend to display the item in a museum. 

    Mexican fajita seasoning

    This spice blend is great for making so many Mexican dishes. It can be used to make fajitas, tacos, enchiladas, and more. Its balanced flavour means that it is a staple in the spice cupboard and you will find yourself reaching for it to add a hint of smokey sweetness.

    We have been making many types of seasonings since 2015, including Chinese five spice, tandoori spice, and jerk seasoning. After making this one time, you will never purchase the instant seasoning from the store again. You can follow the step by step guide below or alternatively you can watch the video that shows you exactly how to make it.

    Mexican fajita seasoning spice blend video

    The great thing about this seasoning is that it is simple and all of the spices are made in equal parts. To make it, you want to combine one teaspoon of paprika, one teaspoon of ground coriander, one teaspoon of ground cumin, some black pepper and a good pinch of salt. 

    Although the Mexican fajita seasoning is done, let's discover some swaps that you can make depending on your preference. 

    Firstly, if you like spicy food, you can add a pinch of cayenne pepper to your blend. If you need this spice blend as a paste you can add a little water to it and some tomato puree. If you don't have any tomato puree you can substitute it with either passata or tomato ketchup but be careful because it will be adding lots of sugar to the dish and could make it too sweet or vinegary if you put too much in. 

    For a smokey flavour you can add barbecue sauce to the spice blend or can swap out sweet paprika for smoked. However you choose to make your spice blend, ensure that it is mixed well.

    How to use your spice blend?

    To use your spice blend or paste to make fajitas, you would typically fry your onions and meat and when everything is cooked, you would add in the paste or spices. Allow it to cook for a few minutes and then add some water to make it turn into a sauce. If you want to add some fresh or chopped tomatoes feel free to do so. Once everything is cooked you will want to serve the fajitas with wraps and our flatbread recipe is perfect. 

    Recipes

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