Essential BIR Spices

Only a handful of spices are really needed to start BIR style cooking. These spices are used in most curries and found in vast quantities next to the cooker in any BIR kitchen so that the chef can easily access them.

BIR Mix Powder

Mix Powder

Mix powder is a chef’s own unique blend of spices that you’ll find in any British Indian Restaurant kitchen. There’s no universal recipe, but it generally contains a mixture of common spices such as turmeric, coriander, chilli and cumin. It’s used as a foundation spice, to which other spices are added depending on the curry being made, for example, additional chilli powder is added to make madras curry hotter.

There are two main reasons why Mix powder is used:

  1. Speed – in a busy kitchen having to add lots of different spices individually is time consuming. Having a spice mix which can be added in one go saves a significant amount of time.
  2. Consistency – again in busy kitchens adding the exact amount of spices each time is difficult to do. Having a pre blended spice mix, with the right ratios of spices, ensures consistency.

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Kasoori Methi Leaves

Kasoori Methi Leaves

(also known as fenugreek leaves)

Kasoori methi leaves are the dried leaves of the fenugreek plant. This is one of the key ingredients in most curries with its distinct bitter flavour and strong, pungent aroma. Kasoori methi is used to enhance the flavour of a dish and add a unique fragrance. It should be used sparingly as it can sometimes overpower the dish. Crushing the leaves before adding to a dish releases more of the flavour.

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Turmeric Powder

(also known as Haldi)

Turmeric powder is one of the main spices used in Indian cooking, and along with chilli powder it is the most used spice in our kitchen. The powder is made from the dried and ground root of the turmeric plant (which looks similar to and is related to ginger). It has a warm, earthy flavour and turns dishes a bright yellow colour. Avoid using too much of it as it can overpower other spices and turn dishes bitter. Be careful handling turmeric as it can easily stain and be difficult to remove.

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Hot Chilli Powder

Hot Chilli Powder

Hot chilli powder is made from dried and crushed hot chillies. This is what is used in curries to add a fiery heat and flavour. Use sparingly if you prefer a milder heat in your curries or use Kashmiri chilli powder instead.

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