South Indian Spice Blends - Sambar & More

This article is authored by Bonny Shah. Bonny is a Registered Dietitian and a Certified Diabetes Educator.

South Indian cuisine is famous for its unique spice blends and flavourful curries. Different regions in the South have their own cooking styles and spice variations, but one thing remains the same - the food is always delicious! Here’s a look at some of the blends that give southern food its good name.

Bafat Powder

Indian Spice Mix

This Mangalorean spice blend has a mix of both Indian and Portuguese flavours, owing to the Portuguese influence in the region. It is most commonly used to flavour pork dishes, but is also used in other meat and vegetable dishes. Put together 10 dried Byadgi chillies, 10 dried red chillies, 4 tbsp dhania seeds, 2 tbsp black peppercorns, 2 tbsp jeera seeds and 4 tbsp haldi. Grind these ingredients into a fine powder to make the bafat masala powder.

Spices used in this blend include coriander which is full of antioxidants which help boost immunity. It can also help tackle inflammation. Another ingredient is pepper, its plant compound called piperine contains potent antioxidant properties. Key compound found in turmeric, curcumincan help in suppressing many molecules known to play major roles in inflammation. While, jeera aids in digestion.

Sambar Powder

When you think of south Indian cuisine, you think of sambar. Sambar is best enjoyed with boiled rice and a side of vegetables or as an accompaniment to idlis and dosas. This traditional dish is made with a special masala mix containing chana dal, urad dal, toor dal, red chilli, dhania, methi seeds, kadi patta, jeera, peppercorns and haldi. Try Tata Sampann Sambar Masala for that authentic south Indian flavour.

The dals in this masala are a good source of proteins and fibre. Additionally methi, contains iron, magnesium, fibre and minerals too. Curry leaves or kadi patta, another ingredient in sambar, helps in preventing anaemia and is great to manage blood sugars.

Milagai Podi

Spice Blends

This spice and lentil blend from Andhra Pradesh is also known as idli podi or more commonly, gun powder. Dry roast ¼ cup chana dal and ¼ cup urad dal until aromatic and golden, and set this aside to cool. Dry roast about 7 red chillies until they turn crisp and keep them aside to cool. Next, roast 2 sprigs of kadi patta until crisp and set these aside. Roast ¼ cup sesame seeds with 1 tbsp jeera until the sesame seeds start to pop. You could also substitute sesame seeds with peanuts and dry roast these till golden brown. Next, mix in ¼ cup desiccated coconut and 2 cloves of garlic. Allow this to cool. Now blend the chillies and dal, followed by kadi patta, garlic, coconut, sesame, jeera and salt to taste. Blend to a powder and voila! Serve with idlis or dosas.

Sesame seeds which are used in this spice blend are a good source of fibre and protein. They may help reduce heart disease risk factors, including elevated triglyceride and “bad” LDL cholesterol levels. Coconuts are especially high in manganese, which is essential for bone health and the metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins, and cholesterol. While garlic is low in calories, it isrich in vitamin C, vitamin B6 and manganese.

Chettinad Masala

This spice mix from Tamil Nadu is a great way to flavour curries, marinades or even rice dishes. Put together 2 tbsp dhania seeds, 1 tsp jeera, ½ tsp ajwain, 1 tsp saunf, ¼ tsp methi seeds, 1 tsp poppy seeds, 6 dry red chillies, 6-8 black peppercorns, 3 cloves, 2 elaichi, 1 star anise, 1 inch cinnamon stick and ½ inch javitri or mace. Dry roast these ingredients for about 8 to 10 minutes until fragrant and allow them to cool. Next, transfer the ingredients to a mixer, blend into a fine powder and your chettinad masala is ready.

Which of these masalas will you try first? Choose only the purest ingredients for your blends, try the range of Tata spices. Happy cooking!


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