NOTE: You will also see Panch Phoron spelled as Panch Phoran.
India is rich not only in family traditions but has numerous cuisine traditions that vary widely across the continent. There are countless aromatic and mouth watering dishes with exotic tastes and smells. From scorching hot to mild and everything in between. The not so secret key to this amazing variety of tastes are the variety of spices they use.
One well known Indian spice blend is Panch Phoron.
What Is Panch Phoron?
Panch means “five” and phoron means “flavour” or “spice.” An English translation of Panch Phoran is “Indian Five-Spice Blend.”
I don’t know about you, but I prefer to call the spice mix Panch Phoron … it sounds interesting and exotic!
Where Did Panch Phoron Originate?
“Panch phoron is a whole spice blend, originating from the Indian subcontinent, used especially in the cuisine of Bangladesh, Eastern India and Southern Nepal. The name literally means “five spices” in Bengali (pãch phoṛon), and is also known under these names in different regions: Maithili (paanch phorana), Nepali (Padkaune Masala), Assamese (pas phoṛôn), and Odia (panchu phutana) ” — Wikipedia
What Are The Ingredients?
Panch Phoron consists of seeds … which are NOT ground into a powder. Though the spices vary, the most common ingredients are:
- fenugreek seed
- nigella seed (also called black cumin)
- cumin seed
- brown mustard seed (or radhuni, or celery seed)
- fennel seed
Some versions include anise which imparts a slight licorice flavor.
If you use each of the above in equal parts, you will have an easy version of Panch Phoron. Many cooks use a smaller amount of fenugreek seeds because of their bitter taste.
In Bengal, Panch Phoron is often made with radhuni instead of mustard seed. Since radhuni is difficult to get in North America you can substitute celery seed which has a similar flavor.
What Does It Taste Like?
The spice mix has a distinctive bitter and nutty flavor. The fenugreek is what gives Panch Phoran its bitter flavor and many cooks tone this down by using a smaller amount of fenugreek in the mix.
The nigella seeds add a light pepper flavor and the cumin adds it distinct earthy quality. Radhuni (celery seed or mustard seed) also have their own unique and intense flavors.
How Is Panch Phoron Used?
A recipe made using Panch Phoron typically starts by frying the spice mix in ghee or the more pungent mustard oil. This causes the seeds to pop open. Once the popping stops, other recipe ingredients are added to the fried spices.
You will typically see Panch Phoron used in chicken or lamb curries as well as with a variety of vegetables and lentils.
My Favorite Panch Phoron Recipes:
OK … calling these “recipes” is a stretch. Once you read through them you will get the idea … EASY!
I DO recommed having a spatter screen handy. This will keep your stove and floor from getting covered with seeds.
LOL, if the seeds are popping high enough to land on your floor, take your skillet off the burner because it is too hot!
Roasted Chicken With Panch Phoron
In a small skillet, add two tablespoons of ghee or coconut oil. Heat on a medium burner and add two tablespoons seeds. Let the seeds sizzle until they start popping open. Take the skillet off the heat before they start to burn … the rest of the seeds should pop from the left over pan heat.
Roll 4 chicken thighs (skin on) in the mixture pressing down so the spices coat the chicken.
Roast for 20 minutes at 350F or until the juices run clear when pierced with a sharp knife.
Fried Veggies with Panch Phoron
In a small skillet, add two tablespoons of ghee or coconut oil. Heat on a medium burner and add two tablespoons of the Panch Phoron spices. Let the seeds sizzle until they start popping open.
Add veggies and stir until they are covered with the spices. Cover the skillet, turn the heat to low and fry until soft.
Veggies: green beans, cauliflower, cabbage, sweet potatoes, carrots and parsnips.
Soup with Panch Phoron
I often make a huge vat of veggie soup that lasts me a week or more (frozen batchs). On one of my soup days I will change the soups flavor profile by frying and popping a tablespoon of Panch Phoran seeds and mixing them into the soup — delicious.
Can’t source the ingredients?
… you’ll definitely want one of these.
You might also enjoy this Indian Spice Shrimp Stirfry