Whenever I come across recipes that call for freshly ground spices, I’m hooked.
Other people may just look at the list of ingredients and think, “humph too much hassle”, me, I think bring it on! Maybe I just love filling the kitchen with their scent, but it also means I get to use the spice grinder. I think it’s a real beauty.
The best time was when we were due to cook for a friends party – 40 odd guests, and curry was on the menu. Me and Chef worked out the menu and our plan of how to deal with 40 hungry and increasingly inebriated friends in a small and fantastically unplanned kitchen. Vegetable Samosas to start, with raita and popads had been made the day before and were warmed in the frankly cranky oven, followed by a rich lamb curry, cooked a few days before and left to sit and “improve”, alongside a Vegetable Dhansak served with Nilgiri rice and chutneys.
Dry frying enough spices for a Vegetable Dhansak to serve 40, I was in spice heaven; Cumin, Cinnsmon, Cardamom, dried Red Chillies, Black Peppercorns and Fenugreek seeds; and then grinding them meant the kitchen rapidly filled with aromatics, that lingered for several days. I loved it – sweet yet spicy pungent. I felt like the one of Bisto kids in the TV advert – aahhhhhhh.
The spice grinder was found, abandoned, and unloved in an old house in London, it was restored, and now sits proudly on a wall alongside the spice jars – oh so convenient!
The best part is when you have dry-fried some spices like cumin and coriander and then when still a touch warm, pour them into the top of the mill and then start cranking the handle – and slowly, slowly, the ground spices emerge.
I don’t need an excuse to use it, nor any encouragement. In fact why the heck do I have jars of ready ground spices cluttering my kitchen? Maybe it’s time to convert to freshly ground.