Indian Recipes, Spices & Spice Blends
Welcome to The Picante Kitchen a ‘blogshop’ about Indian recipes from the ‘Heart’ to feed the ‘Soul’, spice blends and spices.
I blog about Indian recipes, the benefits of spices, rant about random stuff based on food (maybe not – but there you go), and to make Indian cooking effortless for you, I sell a range of my hand blended spice mixes and other spices.
For me food is about the senses – smell, taste, texture, colour and how it looks. It’s about experimenting with new cuisines, discovering new flavours and trying out new recipes. When you love to feed the senses, there’s nothing quite like the colours, smells and flavours of spices.
The recipes I write about are home cooked Indian food. I am not just talking about the Indian you get at your local take-away. This is home cooked food that you will not come across unless you go to someones house in India. The recipes have been lovingly cooked and enjoyed by many over the years and have been handed down from one generation to the next. They are primarily based on Mangalorean, Goan and East Indian Catholic cuisines which have been given to me by my family and friends.
I have put together all the tools you need that will help you recreate the food from the recipes. I buy stock regularly form reputable spice producers in small batches to ensure that everything is fresh. The spice mixes are ground and hand blended to ensure freshness.
The Indian spices and recipes have been carefully selected. I do hope you will cook the recipes, buy and enjoy the Indian spices – it does make a huge difference !
I would love to hear from you specially if you have tried any of the recipes and of course what you think about the spices you have bought. Your opinion is valuable so please try and leave me your comments in the comments section on the relevant page.
Shop, Enjoy & Happy Cooking (as my mum always writes at the bottom of every hand written recipe)
What inspired me to start The Picante Kitchen
My inspiration in starting The Picante Kitchen came about when I realised that the British pallet was ready for something exciting and different when it came to Indian food. I also realised the need to be able to source authentic spices and for a quick and easy cooking method with minimal effort but maximum result using Spice blends that could deliver amazing Indian dishes easily for even the amateur cooks. Requiring only fresh ingredients like chicken, meat, fish or veg, a key spice blend, simple instructions and there was the ability to produce good, nutritious, healthy food on the table.
The recipes you will find here are from my mum, her mum, her friends, my aunts, my friends, their mums, their friends and so on, I am sure your get the picture.
Only the finest spices available are sold at The Picante Kitchen and bought from selected spice traders. Thanks to online shopping and delivery made so easy today, I am your local neighbourhood spice shop.
A little information you might need to know about spices
Here are a few guidelines for using spices that can help you get the most out of the ingredients in your cupboard and rediscover what they can do for your food.
- Some recipes require for the spices to be roasted before they are ground to bring out a different flavour of the spice. These only last upto 6 months before they start to loose their flavour.
- Whole spices will keep for between a year and two years. Any longer than that, and their oils will have dissipated and they will have lost a lot of their flavour.
- Essential oils evaporate very quickly in ground spices. Throw your ground spices away after 6 months and get fresh ones. Any longer and you may as well be adding dust to your food.
- Store your spices in air-tight containers, away from heat and sunlight. Cool, dry, dark places are best.
- Never store spices in hot areas, like on the back of the stove. Heat will ruin the flavour quickly.
- Never sprinkle spices directly over a pot. There are two good reasons for this. Number one: it’s too easy to slip and throw in too much. Number two: when you’re over a pot, steam gets into the spice jar and causes the spices to get damp and clump together. We recommend always measuring spices into a small bowl and then adding them to your saucepan.
The most important rule of all is to enjoy your spices. In days gone past spices were incredibly rare and valuable. We encourage you to use your spices don’t hoard them until they go stale – bring the smells and flavours of the world into your kitchen. When you run out we will be here to restock your spice cupboard.
Our selection of hand blended spice mixes include freshly ground, some are roasted and then ground, depending on the recipe. The spice mixes are then packed carefully with ample time before their expiry date. I am sure you will see, taste and smell the results once you have used our spices. All the items sold here at The Picante Kitchen are sourced carefully and quality controlled.
The reason I called it ‘picante’ which in Portuguese means spicy, is because of the Portuguese influence on Indian Catholic cuisine. Each Catholic sect whether Mangalorean, Goan or East Indian have their own versions of most of these recipes. The Portuguese influence on Indian spices and recipes began after they a colonised India.
The Portuguese influence on Indian cuisine
The Portuguese established a colony in India at the beginning of the 16th century. Portuguese India was ruled first from Cochin, and then Goa. Over the next four centuries, Portuguese control spread to various parts of India, mostly along the west coast of the country but also in the northeast in Bengal. The Portuguese were actively involved in the foundation and growth of the Roman Catholics religious orders. During this time, the Portuguese left their mark on certain Indian cuisines in two ways: by introducing new ingredients to India – including spices that are seen as an essential part of Indian food today – and by introducing Portuguese dishes that were then adapted to Indian culinary techniques and tastes.
The strongest Portuguese influence was of course in Goa, which Portugal ruled until 1961 (quite a few of my Goan friends parents still speak Portuguese with their elders). Therefore Goan Catholic cuisine has a distinct Portuguese flavour. Further down the coast of Goa is Managalore. The Mangalorean Catholics are descendants of Goan Catholics who migrated from Goa due to the Goa Inquisition. The Mangalorean Catholic cuisine is adapted from local cuisine of South Canara but retains the Goan/Portuguese influence in a large variety of their food.
Much further up North of Goa, Mumbai or Bombay is where the East Indians come from. They are an ethno-religious Roman Catholic community, based in and around the city of Mumbai. The East Indian Catholic cuisine is similar to Goan food as far as the Portuguese influence is concerned. But they don’t use as much coconut as the Goans and Mangaloreans do and their food is quite different and can easily be told apart by the discerning palate.
While there are similarities in the Portuguese influences, each communities cuisine can be identified by their local qualities. I write mainly about these three communities as growing up in Mumbai, if you were a Roman Catholic you were either an East Indian, a Goan or a Mangalorean.
Please keep coming back to The Picante Kitchen as I will continue to add Indian recipes and spice blends to the website. If you have any questions or would like me to source any spice or recipe for you please let me know and I will be happy to help.