Blended Spices - An Introduction
In Yarlpanam, as in other societies, spices are used alone and in most cases in blended form to enhance the flavour of the food dishes. Surprisingly, every family differs in their use of spices due to perhaps availability of these spices where they live and mostly on their taste and flavouring and the food item that is being used.
Grinding stone An Ural - used for pounding
During Grandmother's times, curry paste was ground on a grinding stone daily using different spice combinations as and when wanted to give different curries that distinctive aroma. Later on while some families used the grinding stone, others had their blended form of powder hand pounded and stored for days. This form also had the same effect as the ground paste but this was in powder form. This was a long process of roasting the individual spices and pounding them together and storing. At very later stages, this powder was ground at a local grinding mills.
But nowadays the custom is to use readymade powders which are easy to use and less cumbersome and available freely in most places. In everyday cooking people will use minimum of spices without losing the distinctive flavour of theirs, whereas on an occasion like visitation of family or friends, function or festivity they will use an extravagant amount of different spices to make their food look attractive and taste and smell better.
However we give you some blended forms of spices used frequently. In the West these blended spices are available as readymade pastes in jars or as blended powders in suitable packs. These are suitable for cooking purposes but some people may need to make some adjustments depending on what they like - may be mild or hot for some people.
In Yarlpanam, Generally people use three different curry powders. One is referred to as plain or basic curry powder which is very similar to the mild curry powder obtainable from an Oriental or Indian Grocery stores. The other curry powder is referred to as roasted curry powder or Jaffna roasted curry powder and is used for cooking meat curries. The basic curry powder can be used as the base to make the roasted curry powder with some modifications. The third variety is charakku curry powder.