Five Spices That Add Up to Tons of Flavor
While exploring the markets of Mumbai, we found an unmarked packet of spice blend we couldn’t resist trying. The blend of seeds—fenugreek, nigella, black cumin, black mustard and fennel— quickly became a go-to favorite back home, adding gentle savory-warm flavor with pops of anise. With the help of our whip-smart friends on the Milk Street Facebook Community, we later identified it as panch phoron, a Bengali seasoning mix typically bloomed in fat before being added to curries, dals and pickles. We also like to add it to vegetable stews and to make a savory flavored oil. For the latter, in a small saucepan mix 1⁄4 cup neutral oil with 1 tablespoon panch phoron and heat over medium, swirling the pan, until aromatic and the spices are sizzling, about 3 minutes. Strain and discard the seeds, then drizzle over steamed fish or mix with a splash of lime juice and honey for drizzling over sautéed greens or sliced tomatoes. SpiceJungle.com sells 1-ounce packets for about $6.
Building a Better Chocolate Chip
Tesla engineer Remy Labesque had an enviable job—optimizing the chocolate chip eating experience. Several years ago, he was hired by San Francisco’s Dandelion Chocolate to design a better chip, one that retains its shape when baked in a cookie, yet is meltingly smooth on the tongue—a sweet spot most supermarket chocolate chips miss. It took him three years, but Labesque’s diamond-shape chips are designed to hold their shape, yet have thin edges that melt quickly in the mouth. And it’s all thanks to the thermal mass of the chips, rather than added emulsifiers that can leave typical chips tasting waxy. We tried them in a basic cookie recipe and loved the way they filled our mouths with rich, melty chocolate flavor. Available in 500-gram packages (enough for two batches of large cookies) for $30 from DandelionChocolate.com.
All Bottled Up
We love reusing glass bottles for storing all manner of syrups, dressings and vinegars. Trying to get those bottles clean between uses, on the other hand, not so much. So we were excited that Crew Bottle Co. came up with an attractive and easy-to-clean solution. Their rugged 850-milliliter Crew Bottle is made from lab-grade glass and features a watertight screw-on silicone bottom, making it a cinch to clean and dry, including in the dishwasher. Their smaller 450-milliliter Chubby Bottle is the perfect size for small batches of dressings and sauces. Both sizes are available at crewbottleco .com starting around $18.
Tomato Intensity Any Time of Year
Out-of-season tomatoes almost always disappoint, lacking umami intensity as well as the tangy-sweet flavor we love. So we were intrigued when we heard about tomato powder, made from finely ground dehydrated tomatoes. Widely available from multiple producers online, tomato powder adds savory-sweet richness to meat rubs, stews and chilies, and can be mixed with classic Italian dried herbs for sprinkling over roasted vegetables. We tried Fresh & Wild Tomato Powder (available on Amazon for about $17 for a 16-ounce bag) and enjoyed it whisked into vinaigrettes. It also was great used as a pizza-flavored topping for popcorn. To make, mix 4 tablespoons melted butter, 11⁄2 teaspoons tomato powder, 1⁄2 teaspoon kosher salt, 1⁄2 teaspoon red chili flakes, 1⁄4 teaspoon dried oregano and 1∕8 teaspoon granulated garlic. Drizzle over 12 cups of plain popped popcorn.
Twisting Beats Pressing
We didn’t think we needed another citrus juicer, until we tried London kitchen utensil maker Joseph Joseph’s Helix Citrus Juicer. Unlike standard hinged squeezers, which rely on the cook’s strength to squeeze the fruit, the Helix uses an almost effortless twisting motion to better extract every last drop of juice. The halves of the Helix also slide apart for easier cleanup. Available at us.josephjoseph.com for $20.
Best Bets for Leftover Rice
At Milk Street, we often cook more rice than we need so we always have leftovers. Chilled (or frozen) leftover rice doesn’t just make for quick meal prep, it also is the key to perfect fried rice, ensuring grains that retain their shape. But that’s just the start. We asked the 25,000-plus members of our Milk Street Facebook Community for their favorite uses for leftover rice, and were impressed with their creativity. We were especially excited by the Indian-inspired dishes.
For Milk Street’s versions of all three recipes, go to 177milkstreet.com/communityrecipes.
Patrick Owen Chadd, of Sicklerville, New Jersey, makes Indian curd rice (thayir saadam), a mix of rice, yogurt and a splash of milk topped with black mustard seeds and curry leaves bloomed in hot ghee.
Pragya Chandra, of Minneapolis, makes rice pakoras by combining leftover rice with chopped red onion, grated fresh ginger, chopped green chilies, cilantro and a bit of chickpea flour. She then forms the mixture into balls or oblongs, fries them in oil until golden and serves them with spicy ketchup and cilantro chutney.
Kritik Govil, of Somerville, Massachusetts, makes South Indian-style lemon rice. She blooms black mustard seeds, urad dal (a relative of mung beans), curry leaves and crushed dried red chilies in coconut oil, then adds turmeric and chopped onion. When the onion is tender, she adds the rice, lemon juice and fresh cilantro, and tops it with chopped peanuts.