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Panch Phoron-The 5-Seed Spice for Unique Taste (+Recipes)

How does this sound to you? The entire preparation of your dish is sputtering the mixture of five seeds in warm oil then you add your vegetables, dal etc.  In a few minutes your uniquely spiced dishes are ready.

What is Panch Phoron and How Is It Made?

Panch Phoron is a manual mixture of equal amounts of whole raw mustard, cumin, fennel, fenugreek and kalonji seeds . The spice preparation is that simple. In the marketplace the same mixture is called panch phoran. Both panch phoron and panch phoran are the same. In native Oriya (language of Odisha-an eastern state of India) it is called pancha phutan (pancha means five and phutan means-sputter).

Panch-Phoron-The-5-Whole-Seed-spice-for-Unique-Taste

Ingredients of Panch Phoron (Panch Phoran)

  1. 1 part of raw and whole Mustard seeds
  2. 1 part of raw and whole Cumin seeds
  3. 1 part of raw and whole Fennel seeds
  4. 1 part of raw and whole Fenugreek seeds
  5. 1 part of raw and whole Kalonji seeds

Add the above ingredients together into an airtight spice jar and shake the jar manually to mix them. That’s it.

 But don’t get fooled by its simplicity. Sometimes it can be unique. The key to the uniqueness is the way you instill the awesome fragrance of these seeds to your dishes. This five whole seed mixture is fundamentally different from other spices available regarding adding flavor to vegetables .

Why Is Panch Phoron Important in the Current World?

Let me ask you-are you a meat lover because you simply don’t like the taste of the veggies? It turns out that people in the US and UK mostly don’t know how to cook vegetables, many find them tasteless, others find vegetables expensive. In India, vegetable masala with gravy tastes awesome. However it can be unhealthy due to use of excess oil and needs plenty of time to be cooked to perfection.

Here is where panch phoron or panch phoran can come in to  fill the gap of time and taste, to make a uniquely tasting delicious vegetable(s) in almost no time. 

Panch Phoron A quick one minute seasoning of vegetable(s) offers you an exotic and healthy vegetarian dish that you and your family can relish. If you are wondering about its whereabouts, Let’s delve in..

Where Does Panch Phoron Come From?

In Odisha, the eastern Indian State this exact spice is called  “panch phutan”: panch means five and phutan means sputter. I am a native of Odisha and have seen this as “the spice” my family uses on a daily basis. I am sure most if not all Odisha kitchens carry this panch phutan in their spice rack. In the neighboring state of Bengal it is called radhuni, a version which replaces mustard seeds with celery seeds along with panch phoron.

 I am not sure where this choicest combination of the five seeds comes from but I can say it has existed in my family since my grandmother (more than a century). It is surprising to see the number of searches in google for this little hidden treasure among the vegetarian food lovers in the mainstream.

You may have watched many lengthy preparations of Indian spicy vegetarian curries.  However, the making of a great flavorful masala gravy may take an hour or more. Cut, chop, grind, roast/fry, keep stirring until oil comes out, so on and so forth. 

Here is the other end to curb the time to learn a simple and tasty dish

The entire preparation of your dish is sputtering the mixture of five seeds in warm oil then you add your vegetables, dal etc.  In a few minutes your uniquely spiced dishes are ready.

What Is That Life Changing Benefit “Panch Phoron” May Offer?

It makes vegetables appetizing to eat.

How is that a big deal?

Eating multiple servings of vegetables is the current theme of nutrition. They enhance the number of healthy microbes of your gut. This increased number influences your mental health, mood and 80-85% of your immune system along with helping other issues. 

Current trend of the world is shifting away from vegetarian ways of eating to meat. This has become a burden to society because of the increase in chronic illnesses like diabetes, cancer, obesity and heart diseases, gastrointestinal problems and more.

How many times have you heard your kids don’t like to eat veggies? The reason Meat dishes taste better than bland vegetarian dishes. The key can be making the vegetarian dishes aromatic, flavorful and irresistible to eat. People will opt for vegetables when it tastes better. 

Can Panch Phoron deliver on this promise? Where does this aroma come from?

What is the Trick to this Unique Aroma?- Do the Seasoning Right

The trick is to add the 5-seed spice mixture (1~2 teaspoons per 100 gram of vegetables) to the hot oil (1-2 teaspoons) in medium flame, it sputters and the hot oil extracts the essence out from the spices. When you add your vegetables, cooked beans or lentils with vegetables to the seasoning, it infuses the sophisticated flavor to your preparation. Do not overcook the seasoning until black, it will spoil the taste of the food. Be attentive!

Before moving to the recipes, let’s look at some pertinent questions one may have.

Can You Alter the Composition Without Compromising the Taste? 

The answer is yes.

Well, I have personally tested ½ parts of fenugreek and ½ parts of kalonji with respect to the other three which are used 1 part each. I simply cut down on fenugreek, they taste a little bitter. If I secure some great smelling kalonji I really don’t need 1 part to flavor the dishes. One can stay with ½ part.

Do You Use Panch Phoron in Meat Dishes?

No. Meat preparation uses hot spicy ingredients to taste strong. It needs a different kind of preparation all together.  We typically use panch phoran in the seasoning of vegetarian dishes. 

Here are a couple of examples of recipes that are used in our region.

Recipes

#1 Panch Phoron Seasoned Potatoes (Aloo Bharta):

-Panch-Phoron-Seasoned-Mashed-Potato

Ingredients

  1. 100 g of potatoes
  2. 200 g of water for boiling
  3. 20 g of raw onions (optional)
  4. 2 green chilis sliced (optional)
  5. 1 teaspoon of panch phoron mixture
  6. salt

This is one the easiest dishes one can make. Add mashed potato to the spice seasoning and mix for  1-2 minutes. 

Preparation

  1. Boil 100 gram of raw potatoes until tender (you may peel them off before or after the boiling using a pressure cooker or stove top). If you are a skin lover of young potatoes, have them on and go ahead to the next step.
  2. Mash the boiled potatoes until smooth (use a masher or or your own hand).
  3. Add salt to your taste.
  4. Mix well the sliced onions and sliced green chilies for a better test (both are optional).)

Season the paste: Add 2 teaspoons of oil to a pan (cast iron pans offer better taste. However any other pan could be used). Heat to warm the oil for seasoning (this step is important because if you add the seeds in cold oil, it would not extract the essence from the seeds). Then add 1 teaspoon of the panch phoron seeds. Let it sputter. Then add the potato mix to it. Mix it well by lift and flip for 3-5 minutes with a medium flame. Turn off the stove. Enjoy the panch phoron spiced mashed potato. 

Use the spiced potato as a side dish with your main meal. With rice and dalma (see the following), aloo bharta tastes superb.

#2 Dalma-This is the signature dish of Odisha (an eastern state of India). People there really know how to cook dalma delicious. It can be as simple as boiling spit beans and vegetables in water until tender and season the mixture. 

Ingredients of Dalma 

with 4-5 kinds of vegetables. You can add almost any vegetable to dalma.  Toor, yellow split beans or moong split beans are typically used for this preparation.

  1.  Yellow split Lentils (dal)2. pumpkin ~20 g
  2. Papaya green ~20 g
  3. Zucchini ~20 g
  4. Drum sticks~ small on
  5. Plantain ~20 g
  6.  Bay leaf~1 small
  7.  Ginger~ 1 X 1 inch piece 
  8.  Asafetida
  9.  Cinnamon powder- 1/1 inch stick
  10.  Shredded coconut (optional
  11.  Salt to taste
  12.  Panch Phoran
  13.  Mustard oil (other oils or ghee could be used) for seasoning
  14.  Add roasted and ground cumin seeds and dry red chilis for spicing up (optional)

    Preparation

    Boil the dal and vegetable on a stove top with enough water until both the dal and vegetables are tender. You may opt to use a pressure cooker to make it faster. The taste is the same for both.
    When the mixture is ready add it to the oil-panch phoron seasoning. Mix it well. It is ready to serve. It is used as a main dish.

 #3 Spinach and Fenugreek Sauté (Saga)

Ingredients
1. 100 g of Spinach and Fenugreek  in any proportion (you may choose either one as well)
2.  1-2 teaspoons of panch phoron seasoning     3. 1-2 tablespoon of oil  4.  Sliced onion 10 gram  5. 3. green chilis

Preparation

Season a pan with hot oil, Add the spice mix to hot oil and wait to sputter. Cut the greens (clean) to small pieces, Add to the hot spice. Mix it, flip and stir for 3-4 minutes until slightly cooked and no water left. Add salt to taste, mix well. It is now ready to serve. This is a side dish you can add to the main meal.

Where Else Can You Use Panch Phoron Seasoning?

  • Boiled Lentils to make a aromatic soup for a cold evening
  • Any vegetables mixed or a single vegetable sauté mixed greens
  • You can imagine many different vegetables to add this aroma

Add some sliced onions, garlic pieces, green chili pieces to better it. However, simple seasoning can be good enough. 

Can You Use Ground Panch Phoron Spices?

I personally have not used it but someone in the family does. She roasts the seeds individually and grinds them to powder, mix  and use it like salt.

Where Do You Secure the Whole Spice Seeds or Panch Phoron?

The individual seeds are available at your local Indian stores and so also the panch phoron. They are the best if you could pick them from organic produce. Make sure the essence from these seeds are not extracted and they carry their individual flavor. The seed mixture is available in some specialty stores. Panch phoron is available at amazon. You can pick any of these to try out if you don’t like to make your own mix.  

Summary

Panch Phoran is a simple add and mix spice seeds. Ehen seasoned right, it penetrates unique aroma to vegetarian dishes. This seasoning just makes vegetable dishes tastier and appetizing to add to your meals. Eating vegetables improves your gut and your overall health.  Save it as a kitchen staple. Help feed the family with lentils, greens and vegetables for a healthier life.

Anusuya Choudhury

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