I recently posted my take on the classic Indian dish tarka dahl.
My 'tarka' (the fried onion and spice mix which is stirred into the dahl at the end), was made from Bengali Panch Phoran. However, it is not as readily available as I had thought. Not all Indian grocery shops stock it.
You can find ready made Panch Phoran online:
For those of you who don't want to spend ages hunting around for the stuff or can't be doing with buying spices online (you need to buy £30 before you get free delivery, which is an awful lot of spice!), here is how to make your own. Don't buy those teeny tiny jars of spices from the supermarket, they won't last very long. If you buy the packets from the ethnic grocery shops, you'll find they are much better value and you'll have some left for other dishes. The spices used here will be useful for a variety of other dishes, particularly the cumin and fennel which will be useful for Indian and middle-eastern dishes.
You will need equal measures (say 1 or 2 tablespoons) each of:
Nigella seeds (khalo jeera)
Cumin seeds (jeera)
Fennel seeds (saunf)
Black mustard seeds
Variation: substitute the black mustard or fennel for Radhuni seeds (if you can find them!)
Keep all the seeds whole. There is no need to toast them in advance, since when you cook with them, most recipes will call for the seeds to be fried before the addition of other ingredients.
Combine all of the seeds and store in an airtight container. A jar will do nicely. However, if you have metal spice containers, that would be best since prolonged exposure to light will spoil the spices.
Here are some other sites with recipes for using your newly made Panch Phoran:
4 recipes: Potatoes with tamarind, Spinach, Salmon and Pan roasted potatoes (all flavoured with Panch Phoran):
Nigella's Panchiporan Aloo (potatoes with Panch Phoran):
Gordon Ramsay's sweet potatoes with Panch Phoran: