Spices are an integral part of the Indian kitchen. Not only do they add a depth of flavor, and complexity to any dish you add them to, but they also have many health benefits.
They are an essential component of balancing flavors in a dish. They can add heat, sweetness, bitterness, or umami, depending on the type of spice used. Properly combining spices can enhance the overall taste of your meal, creating a harmonious symphony of flavors.
Now that I am running ‘Indian Cooking Classes’ in Sydney, I am always trying to show people how important it is to use good quality spices to get the best of whatever they cook. So, when The Sabor Co., reached out to me offering to send me some of their ethically sourced spices, I was more than happy to try them.
I could smell the saffron and cardamom from the box in which they were packed, even before I opened them and what was even more surprising was that every bottle/bag of spice had details of the farmer that the spice was sourced from, farm location, grade, varietal and even the harvesting date!
More about The Sabor Co, they are a Sydney-New Delhi-based start-up, focusing on bringing in traceability and transparency within the spice trade.They ethically source their directly from farmers, cutting out the middlemen. This allows them to bring some very unique varieties of spices that have been freshly harvested.
Traditional players in the market only focus on origins where they can procure the cheapest produce, however, The Sabor Co. is looking beyond this and giving its customers the opportunity to try spices that have never reached Australian shores for the most part.
Take the example of black peppercorns, most of the peppercorns you will find on supermarket shelves are grown in Vietnam. Similarly, green cardamom coming into the country is mostly from Guatemala. The concept of “provenance” or “terroir” as the French like to call it, is valid when it comes to spices as well.
As Divij, the founder of The Sabor Co. explained to me, just like 2 wines grown in different regions would taste quite different, the same concept holds true for spices as well. Each region in India has something quite different to offer in terms of varietals.
Turmeric is grown all over India, however, Lakadong turmeric is grown only in a certain region of India in the northeastern state of Meghalaya. For those of you who are unaware of Lakadong turmeric, it is a varietal of turmeric that is known to contain the highest curcumin content in the world, upwards of 8%. I have had the opportunity to cook with some of their spices including Idukki cardamom, Idukki peppercorns, Kottayam cloves, Lakadong turmeric, and Nagaur cumin seeds, not only in my home but also at the cooking classes I conduct and the results spoke for the quality of the spices that they bring into the market.
Even the attendees in my class were able to spot the difference straight away when I asked them to compare the aromas of The Sabor Co.’s range with what is available on the supermarket shelves. The feedback I received from them was amazing!
I decided to partner with The Sabor Co. for this post and put forward a “Soya Chunks Biryani”, hope you enjoy it.
Use my coupon code to get a 10% discount from their website, valid until 30th November 2023:
Coupon Code: themoderndesi
If you happen to buy their range using this coupon, please share your feedback.
Ingredients: Cooking time 1 hour
To marinate the Soya
Soya Chunks - 1 ½ Cups
Plain yogurt - 1/2 Cup (you can use coconut yogurt for a vegan version)
Turmeric Powder - 1 Tsp
Chili Powder - 1 Tsp
Salt - 1/2 Tsp
To make the Biryani
Basmati Rice - 1 ½ cups
Ghee - 2 Tbsp (Skip for a vegan version)
Vegetable oil – 2 tbps
Sabor Co spices – 2 sticks of Cinnamon, 6 cloves, 8 green cardamoms, 4 bay leaves, 2 tsp Cumin seeds
2 Onions sliced
2 large potatoes cut into medium sized chunks
2 green chillies finely chopped
2 tsp Ginger garlic paste
2 Tomatoes chopped
1 tsp Turmeric Powder
1 tsp red Chili Powder
1 tsp Garam Masala
Handful of freshly chopped mint Leaves
Handful of freshly chopped coriander Leaves
Juice of 2 lemons
Salt to taste
½ cup milk
A few strands of Pampore Saffron from Sabor Co
Soak soya chunks in hot water for 15 mins
Squeeze the soya chunks and marinate them with curd, red chili powder, turmeric powder, and salt.
Soak the rice in water for 15 minutes. Rinse the rice a few times and drain.
In a saucepan add the rice, 2 ½ cups of water, 2 bay leaves, 1 stick of cinnamon, 3 green cardamoms, juice of 1 lemon, and 2 cloves, and cook till the rice is done.
Heat milk in a cup add the saffron and set aside.
Heat oil in a flat-bottomed large pan and lightly fry the potato chunks till they are golden and crispy
In the same pan add the remaining oil and add the cumin seeds, remaining bay leaves, green cardamoms, cinnamon, ginger garlic paste, green chili paste, and sliced onions and fry them till the onions are caramelized.
Now add the tomatoes and salt and cook till the tomatoes are mushy.
In a small bowl add ½ cup of water, red chili powder, turmeric powder, coriander powder, and garam masala and mix well. Pour this mix into the pan and cook till all the water has evaporated.
Add the marinated soya chunks, fried potatoes, and most of the chopped coriander and mint and mix well. Add 1 cup of water and gently cover this with all the rice.
Pour Ghee on top of the rice along with the rest of the coriander and mint and the saffron-soaked milk, remaining lemon juice, and slivered Almonds.
Cover and cook on a low flame for 20 minutes. Serve hot with chilled yogurt.