Food & Drink

Indian Spice Tips for Everyday Eating


When one Tabla closes, another warmly lit palace devoted to upscale Indian cuisine opens (across the park, in fact). If you’re unable to get to Junoon, James Beard award-winning chef Vikas Khanna and owner Rajesh Bhardwaj have a few pointers for spicing up your own cooking.

1. To transform a dish of plain rice, add one tablespoon of tamarind chutney and a half teaspoon of ground cumin (per one cup of cooked rice) before serving.

2. Frying spices allows an even amount of flavor throughout the dish. Sear chicken in a pan with a tablespoon of olive oil, and then place whole spices (such as turmeric, cinnamon stick, and a bay leaf) into the pan with a little butter. Cook over medium heat and remove spices before serving.

3. Dry-roast coriander seeds, cumin, and cardamom to release oils and intensify flavor. Put the whole spices on a sheet pan and roast in the oven on the lowest rack at 200º. Let sit for ten to twelve minutes (tossing at least once). Remove and add them to a stew of root vegetables and garlic. Let simmer and remove before serving.

4. For a sweet and easy dessert, roast peppercorns in the oven (as stated above), then grind. Crust slices of pineapple with the roasted peppercorns, a little sugar, and a pinch of sea salt. Place them on a grill or griddle and sear until caramelized.

5. Use a coffee grinder for cardamom seeds (one teaspoon is ten cardamom buds), and add the freshly ground powder to a traditional mashed potato recipe. Just one teaspoon will be enough flavor for eight to ten servings. Extra tip: Don’t clean your grinder before using the next morning. That little touch of leftover spice will add a wonderful flavor to your cup of joe.

Junoon, 27 West 24th Street, between Fifth and Sixth Avenues (212-490-2100 or junoonnyc.com). Take the royal restaurant tour before you go.

Photo: Janelle Jones

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27 W 24th St
bt 5th & 6th Aves
New York, NY 10010