Panch Phoron/ Panch Phutan is a mix of five whole spices in equal parts: Fenugreek, Nigella Seed, Cumin Seed, Mustard seed and Fennel Seed. Panch Phoron is commonly used in eastern part of India and it literally translates into Panch means Five and Phoron is tempering. This Indian Five Spice Mix is quite different from the Chinese Five Spice Mix in which Star Anise, Fennel Seeds, Cloves, Chinese Cassia Bark and Sichuan Black Peppercorns are grind to a fine powder.
This five spice mix called Panch Phoron adds tremendous flavor and aroma to any dishes .To make this spice mix at home, mix together an equal quantity of each spice and store in an airtight container . Panch phoron is usually fried in oil or ghee before adding anything else to the pot, flavouring the oil and releasing the aroma of the oils in the seeds and causing them to pop in the pan.
This five-spice mix is called the Panch Phoron in Bengali and Panch Phutan in Odia, and is quite commonly used in Bangladeshi, Bhojpuri and Maithili, Bengali, Odia, and Assamese food. In Panch Phoron mix, a special spice called radhuni/randhuni seeds (wild celery seeds) are added for a distinct flavour in Bengal in place of mustard seeds, but in rest of east India, mustard is used as these wild celery seeds are found no where else in India . It is always used as a whole, although it can be roasted and ground to be used in Pickles and Chutneys.
Mustard seeds are a good source of selenium and magnesium , omega 3 fatty acids, iron, calcium, zinc and protein.Mustard seeds are also used as garnishing. They are dry roasted or sautéed with chillies and fresh coconut and sprinkled on steamed vegetables, dal or savouries like dhokla or khandvi.
Cumin or jeera is the second most popular spice in the world after black pepper. It has a unique, rather unrefined, resin-like, aroma. Due to its medicinal properties, it is used as an ingredient in many home remedies and ayurvedic preparations.
Fenugreek seeds are must for those with diabetes. It lowers blood sugar levels in the body, and helps to slow down the absorption of sugar in blood. They also help to lower triglycerides. Plus fenugreek is rich in iron, and potassium.
Fennel seeds contract the name from the Sanskrit word, madhurika, which describes the sweet nature.These seeds are used whole or ground. Toasting them on a dry pan before grinding enhances the flavor. Fennel is a natural mouth freshener. It has many medicinal attributes. Fennel activates the circulation of oxygen to the brain cells and helps to flush out toxins from the body.
NIGELLA SEEDS ( Kalonji)
The taste of Nigella seed or Kalonji is unique and slightly bitter. Kalonji is well used in Bengali cuisine and known as kalo jeera (black cumin). Nigella seeds help to reduce gastro-intestinal disorders. Plus it’s anti-bacterial, apart from it containing the essential oil – Nigellone – that purifies the stomach, and fuels the secretion of bile.
Radhuni( Wild Celery Seeds)
Radhuni. It’s one of those very rare spices, which are commonly used in most Bengali cuisines. It has a very strong flavor, a pungent spicy taste and can be easily confused with carom seeds (ajwain). Because of it’s strong aroma, a very tiny pinch is enough to enhance the flavor of the curry.
Here is a list of recipes which have used Panch Phoron in many interesting ways. Have a look at each of them.
This tomato chutney uses the earthy and aromatic flavours of the panch phoran which work very well with the tangy tomatoes.The tanginess of the tomatoes are balanced with addition of sugar and heat of whole red chillies and red chilli powder.Find the recipe Here.
This Lasooni Dal aka Garlic Dal reminds of a basic cooked meals with simple ingredients and modest flavors . The addition of Panch Phoron lends a lovely aroma to the dish when tempered.Find the recipe Here.
This Bhuna Chicken with panch phoron is very similar to the Chicken Kosha or Kosha Mangsho as in both the process, use of bhuna or koshano is used to enhance the flavour of the dish.Find the recipe Here.
The sweet potatoes laced with crushed red chilli, sliced onion, green bell pepper, Parmesan cheese and panch phoron are roasted untill tender and caramelized to be savoured. Find the recipe Here.
This is a medley of mixed vegetables cooked in Bengali style with a wonderful aroma of pickled spices to make a dry curry. Find the recipe Here.
A no onion garlic yellow lentil recipe with sun-dried lentil dumplings and a tadka of Panch Phoron is perfect for a meatless day. Find the recipe Here.
This dish with yogurt marinade and baked in a very hot oven till the sauce reduces when the panch phoron seeds cling to the chicken and vegetables to kick it up the flavor. Find the recipe Here.
The mild warmth of Chillies, Panch Phoran and achaar masala toned down the tartness of the pickle and the sweetness from the palm sugar, complemented the cranberries beautifully.Find the recipe Here.
Try this simple Manipuri style sweet and sour mango relish tempered with panch phoron till the mango season is in demand. Find the recipe Here.
Any ceremonial meal in Bengal is incomplete without a Shukto which is a light, mildly sweet, non-spicy palate cleanser, with bitter gourd as the main ingredient.Find the recipe Here.
Mushrooms in mustard gravy with sun dried Mango is a tart, spicy, flavourful, authentic Odiya curry made with locally grown mushrooms, tempered with Paanch phoron. Find the recipe Here.
Potatoes cooked with some turmeric powder to enhance it’s golden colour and the spiciness comes from the green chillies and all other flavours from the panch phoron spice mix. Find the recipe Here.
This Assamese style mutton curry cooked with Panch Phoron will not make you feel ‘heavy’ after consumption, because it uses very less spices.Find the recipe Here.
This simple pointed gourd stuffed curry with panch phoron is a must try by the vegetarian lovers. Find the recipe Here.
15. Ambula Rai
This Dry Mango Raita tempered with Panch Phutan is a beauitiful combination of flavors such as tangy, sweet, spicy. The tanginess comes from the use of curd and dry mango, the sweetness from the coconut and sugar and the spiciness from the mustard paste and green chillies.Find the recipe Here.
This Panch Phoron Tarkari is a delicious and easy one pot recipe of mixed Vegetables cooked in Bengali Five Spices mix.Find the recipe Here.
17. Torani Kanji
This Fermented rice water and vegetable soup is an authentic Odiya dish prepared with leftover water after boiling rice and water from water rice or pakhala and vegetables finally tempered with Panch Phutan. Find the recipe Here.
This Bengali style spicy sweet and sour tomato chutney tempered with paanch phoran is an excellent side dish for a meatless meal.Find the recipe Here.
This Sweet Bottle Gourd with Shrimp curry is a lovely dish which is both sweet and spicy at the same time.Find the recipe Here.
You should try this simple and delicious recipe forJackfruit Curry / Panasa Katha Kassa/ Kathal Ki Sabzi and get acquainted with the wonderful flavor and texture of a truly versatile fruit/vegetable – Jackfruit tempered with Panch Phutan.Find the recipe Here.