Health Benefits Of 'Paanch Phoron' or 5-Spice Mix
Have you tried 'paanch phoron'? A blend of five spices, it not only enhances the taste of a dish but has many health benefits as well. Commonly used in East India, people are giving it a try.
By Monali Bordoloi
Anagha Gunjhal often wondered about the delicious food smell that used to come from her Bengali neighbour's home. One day, when she was invited to her neighbour's house for a religious ceremony, she got to know that the secret behind the aroma was a mix of five spices, better known as paanch phoron.
Used most commonly in Bengali cuisines, paanch phoron has a number of health benefits along with its taste-enhancing properties. Anagha decided to use this blend of spices and to her surprise, she and her family members loved it.
What is paanch phoron or 5-spice mix?
The paanch phoron or 5-spice mix originated in India. Here, paanch means five and phoron means flavour. It is mostly used in Bengali, Assamese and Oriya cuisines. Also used in Bangladesh and parts of Nepal. The five spices are fenugreek, nigella seeds (onion seeds), fennel seeds, black mustard and cumin seeds. All the five spices should be mixed in equal quantities to get a flavourful taste. However, one can change the proportions to suit individual taste.
Health benefits of paanch phoron:
All the five spices used in the paanch phoron or the 5-spice mix has immense health benefits. When the flavourful five spices are mixed, the goodness of all the spices come together to give your food a healthy twist. Here are the health benefits of each of the five spices used in the mix.
1. Fenugreek: Fenugreek is a natural way to increase breast milk. Mothers who want to increase the supply of breast milk should include fenugreek or methi in their diet. Fenugreek seeds can also detoxify the body. It is also great for controlling blood sugar level and used for improving hair growth.
2. Nigella seeds: The black coloured nigella or onion seeds are traditionally used for healing in Ayurvedic treatments. The tiny seeds, also known as kalonji, are fried in hot oil and the oil is used to relieve symptoms of cold and cough, headaches, asthma and alopecia. It is also good for jaundice and constipation.
3. Fennel: Fennel seed or saunf improves immunity. Those of you who suffer from periods pain, try having fennel seeds with water. It is also used to get reliefs from indigestion, constipation and bloating. Apart from having great digestive powers, it also improves the appetite.
4. Black mustard: This tiny black mustard seed is full of nutrients such as iron, calcium, zinc, manganese and dietary fibre. It can also reduce, to some extent, the symptoms of asthma. Black mustard also slows down the ageing process. It is good for rheumatoid muscle and arthritic pain too.
5. Cumin seeds: Cumin seeds are known to help the digestive system. It aids in proper secretion of pancreatic enzymes, which in turn helps in digestion. In recent years, jeera or cumin is also getting used in weight-loss plans.
How to use 5-spice mix:
Take one tablespoon each of all the five whole spices and mix together. Keep the jar away from direct sunlight. In some supermarkets, it is available as a ready-mix of five spice.
Paanch phoron or 5-spice mix is used for tempering. It has strong aroma and flavour, so just half teaspoon of the 5-spice mix should be enough to cook vegetables or lentils for four people. Before you cook any vegetables, put the 5-spice mix in the hot oil and fry it till it releases its aroma. You can add vegetables or daal after the 5-spice mix starts popping. You can use coarsely crushed paanch phoron or 5-spice mix for pickles and marinades.
Paanch phoron goes well with:
- You can use 5-spice mix in most curries. However, it brings out the true flavour when used in vegetarian dishes, stir-fries and chutneys. You can also use it to temper daals and while cooking fish curry too.
- You can use the paanch phoron with any oil, but to get its unique flavour, pairing up with mustard oil is recommended as mustard oil is the preferred oil in most East Indian households.
How to store:
Keep your 5-spice mix in an airtight jar. Keep the whole spice, don’t grind it. Grinding or dry roasting these spices will reduce their flavour.
Read about the healing powers of 10 amazing spices available in every kitchen. Flip through the pages of the ClipBook to know more.
Recipe for Sweet tomato chutney with paanch phoron or 5-spice mix.
If you want to try out paanch phoron, try this Bengali style sweet and sour tomato chutney. This chutney goes well with roti, rice or fritters. This chutney can go as a side dish with any meal. If kept under refrigeration, you can use the chutney for a week.
- Two large tomatoes, diced into large pieces
- One teaspoon of paanch phoron
- 2 tablespoons of tamarind pulp, if your take whole tamarind, take 9-10, remove the seed and soak it in water for some time
- A half cup of sugar or jaggery
- Salt to taste
- One tablespoon mustard oil
- 2-3 red chillies
How to make it:
- Put oil in a kadai
- When hot add the paanch phoron or 5-spice mix
- When the spices are aromatic, add the chopped tomatoes
- When half-done, add the rest of the ingredients
- Cook for 10 minutes and its ready to serve
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