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Onion Seeds

nigellaonionseeds250px IMG 1728Nigella is grown predominantly in India and is used extensively. Although the seeds are also known as onion seeds they have nothing to do with onions. They are tiny and jet black, a bit like chips of coal, and smell slightly acrid when rubbed between your fingers. They have a nutty, bitter flavour. Store in an airtight container in a cool, dark place for up to 6 months.

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Fennel Seeds

Fennel seeds are the dried ripe fruit of the perennial herb. They resemble cumin seeds but are green and plumper with yellow ridges. Good quality fennel seeds have a warm, aniseed flavour and aroma, which turns slightly bitter when roasted. Fennel seeds are used in many Indian spice mixtures to enhance meat dishes and sweeten desserts. It is also one of the ingredients used in tea spice or chai masala.

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Bay Leaves

IMG 1762 bay leavesThe European bay leaf comes from the sweet bay, a member of the laurel family but the Indian variety comes from the cassia tree. It is sold dried and is a dull sage colour and fairly brittle. When cooked, Indian bay leaf gives off a pungent, warm aroma, and have a mellow but spicy taste. One ort two leaves are enough to scent a dish.

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Caraway Seeds

Caraway is a biennial herb, a member of the parsley family, and is popular in north Indian cooking. The seed is brown, hard and sharply pointed at either end and tastes of fennel or aniseed. Caraway can be used to flavour Indian cheeses. It is also used in hot spice mixtures and to flavour meat and rice dishes. Store in an airtight container away from direct sunlight.

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Turmeric

Turmeric comes from the root of Curcuma longa, a leafy plant in the ginger family. The roots are boiled or steamed then dried and ground (the most widely available form) to a deep yellow powder. It is mildly aromatic and tastes pungent, bitter and earthy. Don't use it as a substitute for saffron as the colour might be similar but the flavour is entirely different. Turmeric is one of the most versatile spices in Indian cooking. Its rich orange yellow colour adds to the appearance of any dish, and it is a vital ingredient of so called curry powder. Store it in a cool, dark and dry place for 4 months.

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