Panchphoran: Another Indian Spice Mix

Earlier this year I wrote about Panchphoran Aloo, potatoes in whole spices. I’ve always thought of this recipe as potatoes with a variety of spices added. What I didn’t realize until today, when I saw a recipe that called for panchphoran and not its component parts, is that it’s actually a specific spice blend.

So, off I went to do some research, courtesy of Wikipedia and The Spice and Herb Bible by Ian Hemphill).  What I learned is that panchphoran is a whole seed spice blend of Bengali origin. The name is quite literal, ‘panch’ meaning ‘five’ and ‘phora’ meaning ‘seeds.’ You may also see this blend called panch puran, panch phutana,  panch phoron or panch pora.

A Kaleidoscope of Colour and Flavour: (from top) fenugreek seed, cumin seed, nigella seed (kalonji), mustard seed and fennel seed.

Most of the recipes I’ve seen for it call for equal amounts of each of the following five spices: fenugreek seed, cumin seed, nigella seed (kalonji), mustard seed (black or brown) and fennel seed. However, some cooks may vary the amounts to achieve specific flavour profiles. I would have to work with panchphoran more before I’m ready for that.

This is an extremely easy spice blend to make. Just measure, using the same sized measuring spoon or cup according to the quantity you want to have on hand, and then mix well. No toasting or grinding required. Your panchphoran, a fragrant kaleidoscope of colour, is now ready for when you come across a recipe that calls for it. I think you’ll see one here soon!

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