Panch Phoron spices -- a combination of five ("panch") ingredients - is a spice mix quite standard and much relished in many northern and eastern parts of India. I was introduced to it by one of my room-mates whose family was from West Bengal, and she used to cook some wonderful fish, which I never got to relish as I was practising being vegan in those days...
Anyway, this time, I went with the combination of a different set of five unique ingredients for the spice mix -- black peppercorns, dried fenugreek leaves ("methi"), freeze-dried basil leaves, black sesame seeds, and nigella seeds. The freeze-dried basil rehydrates with a burst of freshness that the dehydrated basil lacks.
Lightly toast the seeds and peppercorns, add in the dried fenugreek and basil leaves and grind to a fine powder. When stored in an air-tight container, this spice mix will keep well for a week or so, and in the fridge it will last a month at least. But, I prefer fresh ground when I want to use it.
Rub an organic free-range chicken breast with tamarind and salt and allow to marinate while the spice mix is getting ready. Cut into chunks when ready to cook.
Black peppercorn Sesame seeds Nigella Fenugreek Basil Spice Mix:
3 Tbsp dried fenugreek leaves
3 Tbsp freeze-dried basil leaves
2 Tbsp black peppercorns
1 Tbsp nigella seeds
1 Tbsp black sesame seeds
1 tsp turmeric powder
2 small boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 Tbsp tamarind concentrate
salt to taste
2 Tbsp coconut oil (or vegetable oil)
- Rub the chicken with salt and tamarind and allow to marinate while the spice mix is getting ready
- Toast the sesame seeds, nigella seeds and peppercorns, add in the dried fenugreek and basil leaves and grind to a fine powder
- Heat the oil in a pan, add the marinated chicken and turn it around to coat evenly with oil, allow to cook for a few minutes on each side
- Add in the spice mix powder stir well, add a splash of water, cover and cook over medium low heat till chicken is cooked through
- Garnish with thinly sliced bell peppers and onions tossed in lemon juice for a bit of sparkle and balance, serve with a side of quinoa or millet or wild rice or even just simple roti or naan.