Nimki is a popular savory pre-make snack from the bylanes of Uttar Pradesh. Nimki comes in many flavors and forms. In many homes, it is shaped like a diamond and called namak para, while in many others it is neatly folded into a layered triangle. Whatever be the shape, Nimki is always crisp, crunchy and a favorite tea-time munchie for the festive season. How to serve Nimki? There is only one answer, with your favorite pickle. Scoop out a generous helping of homemade achaar and serve it with Nimki. And not to forget garam garam chai. With this snack combination on the table, the chitter-chatter never seem to fade away. Or it lasts till the last piece of Nimki is devoured with the leftover masala of the pickle. Such is the magic of Nimki aka Indian style savory crackers.
Masala, a ground spice mixture is perhaps the most common and the easiest way of using whole spices. It takes a little effort to combine spices at home and make a spice blend. In the multitude of spice mix, Achaar Ka Masala stands out for its bright color and distinct aroma. There is more to this achaar masala than just pleasing senses. It carries a supreme role in the making of Indian pickles (achaar). Those bold, blazing, spicy, sweet, sour, pickles are incomplete without a teaspoon of achaar ka masala.
Recently, I was given a very original gift. A box of dried mango slices (sabut amchur) and a heritage recipe from the late grandma’s recipe journal. This was my first trial with the dried mango slices. When the market is loaded with the abundant produce of kaccha aam (raw mango) the wise house ladies like my mother, slice them and later sun-dry the raw mango slices to preserve them. The raw mango slices which I received as a culinary souvenir were the last from the last year’s batch. So I decided to get little adventurous with them and explore the sweet and spicy blends. This time of the year around summer, Sweet and Spicy Amchur Ki Launji is simmering in most of the kitchens of the neighbourhood. Ever since I was a child, Amchur Ki Meethi Chutney always fascinated my taste-buds. It is so hard not to scoop a chunk of launji from the jar using your fingers and lick it. But we used to relish Amchur Ki Launji in a refined manner as well by spreading it in between the Paratha or Puri.
With the festival of Holi, not just the signs of spring creep up, but also, the mood in the kitchen is set for the deep-fried sweets and snacks. Ghujia, Thandai, Namak Pare, Kanji, Methi Mathri are few snacks prepared in abundance. So much so that they last till the summer beginning. Sweet and sour, hot and soothing, spicy and floral notes come together to embellish the Holi snacks table. The festival’s playfulness is mirrored in the flavorsome food. The explosion of flavors in our mouths is a recreation of the playing of colors outside. Methi Mathri is one such snack, which is inextricably linked with the spirit of Holi. Or I should say any deep-fried snack is the ritual on the festive occasions in our country. This Methi Mathri Recipe is super simple, but also super tasty, with crushed fenugreek leaves, crunchy notes of semolina, and a warm taste of carom seeds. It offers a tremendous amount of flavor that you wouldn’t expect from a simple homemade snack.
Homemade Rasam Powder is an essential spice mix in the South Indian Cuisine usually used to spike up the flavor of rasam. Rasam is a South Indian soup, traditionally prepared using tamarind juice as a base, with the addition of tomato, chili pepper, pepper, cumin and other spices as seasonings, says Wikipedia. In other words, Rasam is a soupy, spicy curry served with heaps of steamed rice with a generous addition of ghee all together to be slurped using fingers. Rasam Powder is a requisite ingredient in ever Southern kitchen spice box. During our years of stay in South certain regional delicacies became our routine pick and eventually, rasam powder made a space for itself on my kitchen shelf too.
Recipe: Thai Masaman Curry Paste
Yield: 250g or 1 medium sized bowl
10 dried red chilies
1 onion, roughly chopped
10 – 12 cloves of garlic
1 thumb size piece of ginger, chopped
2 Tbsp cumin seeds
4 Tbsp coriander seeds
2 Tsp fennel seeds
1 Tbsp black peppercorns
2 inch stock of cinnamon
¼ Tsp grated nutmeg
Seeds of 2 brown cardamom
Rind of 1 lemon
For making paste, dry roast all the ingredients in a wok or pan for 5 minutes or till aroma is released from the spices.
Grind all the roasted ingredients to a paste using 4 – 6 tbsp of water until smooth.
Store in a clean, dry airtight container in the fridge, use as per the requirement. It can be stored in the fridge for a week or so, make sure to use clean dry spoon to scoop out the curry paste everytime you use it.