What Is Panch Phoron?
Panch Phoron is a spice blend commonly used in the Bengali region of Eastern India, Bangladesh and Nepal.
NOTE: You will also see Panch Phoron spelled as Panch Phoran.
India is rich not only in family traditions but has numerous cuisine traditions that vary widely across the continent. There are countless aromatic and mouth watering dishes with exotic tastes and smells. From scorching hot to mild and everything in between. The not so secret key to this amazing variety of tastes are the variety of spices they use.
One well known Indian spice blend is Panch Phoron.
What Is Panch Phoron?
Panch means “five” and phoron means “flavour” or “spice.” An English translation of Panch Phoran is “Indian Five-Spice Blend.”
I don’t know about you, but I prefer to call the spice mix “Panch Phoron” … it sounds a lot more exotic than Indian Five Spice Blend!
Where Did Panch Phoron Originate?
“Panch phoron is a whole spice blend, originating from the Indian subcontinent, used especially in the cuisine of Bangladesh, Eastern India and Southern Nepal. The name literally means “five spices” in Bengali (pãch phoṛon), and is also known under these names in different regions: Maithili (paanch phorana), Nepali (Padkaune Masala), Assamese (pas phoṛôn), and Odia (panchu phutana)”— Wikipedia
What Are The Ingredients?
Panch Phoron consists of seeds … which are NOT ground into a powder. Though the spices vary slightly, the most common ingredients are:
- fenugreek seed
- nigella seed (also called black cumin)
- cumin seed
- radhuni (or celery seed or brown mustard seed)
- fennel seed
Some versions also include anise which imparts a slight licorice flavor.
If you use each of the above spices in equal parts, you will have an easy version of Panch Phoron. Many cooks use a smaller amount of fenugreek seeds because of their bitter taste.
Panch Phoron is often made with radhuni, or brown mustard seed. Since radhuni is difficult to get in North America you can confidently substitute celery seed which has a similar flavor.
What Does It Taste Like?
The spice mix has a distinctive bitter and nutty flavor. The fenugreek is what gives Panch Phoran its bitter flavor and many cooks tone this down by using a smaller amount of fenugreek in the mix.
The nigella seeds add a light pepper flavor and the cumin adds it distinct earthy quality. Radhuni (celery seed) also has it’s own unique and intense flavor.
How Is Panch Phoron Used?
A recipe made using Panch Phoron typically starts by frying the spice mix in ghee or the more pungent mustard oil. This causes the seeds to pop open. Once the popping stops, other recipe ingredients are added to the fried spices.
You will typically see Panch Phoron used in chicken or lamb curries as well as with a variety of vegetables and lentils.
My Favorite Panch Phoron Recipes:
OK … calling these “recipes” is a stretch. Once you read through them you will get the idea … EASY!
I DO recommend having a spatter screen handy. This will keep your stove and floor from getting covered with seeds.
If the seeds are popping high enough to land on your floor, take your skillet off the burner because it is too hot!
Roasted Chicken With Panch Phoron
In a small skillet, add two tablespoons of ghee or coconut oil. Heat on a medium burner and add two tablespoons Panch Phoron seeds. Let the seeds sizzle until they start popping open. Take the skillet off the heat before they start to burn … the rest of the seeds should pop open from the leftover pan heat.
Roll 4 chicken thighs (skin on) in the spice mixture, pressing down so the spices coat the chicken.
Roast for 20 minutes at 350F or until the juices run clear when pierced with a sharp knife.
Fried Veggies with Panch Phoron
In a small skillet, add two tablespoons of ghee or coconut oil. Heat on a medium burner and when the skillet is hot add two tablespoons of the Panch Phoron spices. Let the seeds sizzle until they start popping open.
Add veggies and stir until they are covered with the spices. Cover the skillet, turn the heat to low and fry veggies until soft.
Veggies: green beans, cauliflower, cabbage, sweet potatoes, carrots and parsnips.
Soup with Panch Phoron
I often make a huge vat of veggie soup that lasts me a week or more. On one of my soup days I will change the soups flavor profile by frying and popping a tablespoon of Panch Phoran seeds and mixing them into the pot — delicious.
This article was originally published on the sugar-free-zone.com
Melanie Rockett has been a freelance writer for over 40 years. About 15 years ago she was diagnosed with Diabetes — and began a long journey of discovery. Today she lives a sugar-free life and has lost 120 pounds. Her website Sugar-Free-Zone.com is all about living sugar-free and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
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