Trial Run with a Packaged Masala
A few weeks ago on a cold and rainy evening, when there were plenty of leftovers for dinner, and nothing great on television, I found myself with some rare time to go rummaging through the fridge, freezer, and pantry to take stock of all the spice powders that have been sitting idly in the kitchen, for months, perhaps longer. Out came packets, bottles, plastic containers, of odd shapes and sizes. I did not even know how some of these came into the house. I could take some reasonable guesses, but wasn't completely sure about some. Some probably came with guests, and some were gifts from relatives, but I know that a lot of them were the doing of my own greed for trying out different things.
Perhaps I should spare you the details, but there are no less than 26 of them right now, some of them highly suspect, like "Curry" Powder, some intriguing, like "Kitchen King" Masala, and some downright useless, like a branded Sambar Masala, which was bought when I was going to make sambar for guests and found out at the last minute that I had run out of my stock of mom's sambar masala.
Still, there is something innate to my Indian sensibilities because of which I found it rather difficult to just chuck these away. I thought that I must try using some of the unopened ones at least once, to see what they are like. The Biryani Pulao Masala was an easy choice, of which I had not one, but two packets, a Badshah, and an Everest, of which Everest had a mix of whole and powdered spices, and I settled on that, and used the recipe on the back as a rough guideline.
I soaked 1/2 a cup of whole masoor (similar to generic brown lentils) for about an hour, and 1 cup of basmati rice for about half an hour, and drained both of these before cooking. Sliced some onion, and sauted it a bit of oil and ghee, add the biryani-pulao masala, followed by the masoor dal, rice, pinch of turmeric and red chili powder. Added 3-4 cups of water, salt, and cooked everything like a pulao.
What did I think of it?
Eaten with a pumpkin raita, the pulao was definitely delicious, so the masala might be ok in a pinch for a quick weeknight rice dish, but nothing special that my own whole spices (bay leaf, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon stick) and ground garam masala couldn't do. It might be fine for someone who does not want to buy the usual whole spices used in a pulao and yet wants to make pulaos or biryanis frequently. The pumpkin raita, by the way, deserves its own post.
If more cold rainy nights persist, fun times lie ahead. I could do a dal count, flour count, or even grain count, and find interesting things hidden in my own kitchen.
Sending this to the Legume Affair at the Well Seasoned Cook.