Saturday 24 January 2009

Curried Salt-Sprinkle

A lovely, zingy, all-purpose spicy salt-sprinkle for grilled chicken and meat, rice, stews, soups, dips, curries and popcorn.

I am a great fan of home-made spiced and herbed salt mixtures, and about once a month make two or three small batches - a cup at a time - of flavoured salt, which I use for seasoning our everyday family meals. These mixtures keep well for a month or two in tightly sealed glass or plastic jars, provided that everything is perfectly dry.

For this recipe, curry leaves are an essential ingredient. They are available whole and dried from spice shops, Indian supermarkets and greengrocers. If you can only find fresh ones, you will need to dry them on a windowsill for a few days - or in a barely warm oven for a few hours - before you use them. Or, you can blend the whole fresh leaves into the mixture, and then set the salt outside, thinly spread on a baking tray, in the sun, for a few hours so that all the moisture evaporates. The the same applies to bay leaves.

Whole, fresh spices (or very fresh powdered spices) are essential for this mixture.

Curried Salt Sprinkle
  1. 3 T (45 ml) whole coriander seeds
  2. 3 T (45 ml)) whole cumin seeds
  3. 1 T (15 ml) fenugreek seeds
  4. 6 whole white cardamom pods
  5. 3 whole cloves
  6. 1 small stick cinnamon, broken into small pieces
  7. 3 T (45 ml) yellow mustard seeds
  8. a handful of dry curry leaves (or fresh, see above)
  9. 3 dry bay leaves
  10. 4 dried red chillies, seeds removed (or 20 ml dried red chilli flakes)
  11. 1 T (15 ml) turmeric
  12. 1 T (15 ml) black or green dried peppercorns
  13. 1 and 1/2 cups (375 ml) coarse sea salt
Heat a dry frying pan until moderately hot and add ingredients 1- 7. Toss the ingredients and allow to toast over the heat for a few minutes, or until they begin to release their fragrance. Don't allow them to brown or burn. Tip all these ingredients into a coffee grinder or spice grinder, or one of those little mini-bowls on your food processor, add a few tablespoons of coarse salt, and whizz until well blended. If you don't have an electric grinder, put them in a mortar and bash hard with a pestle. Add all the remaining ingredients and grind to a powder. Tip into a dry jar and seal tightly. You will find that the bigger, dryer particles and husks 'float' to the top of the mixture - which is fine, but do shake well before using. Makes about 2 cups.
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