I recently came across Holy Lama’s Spice Drops through a group on facebook. It sounded very interesting because liquid spice extracts in Indian cooking will be a new trend all together. My inquisitve mind had so many questions arising…how do they fit in Indian cooking, do the mix well in all kinds of food media eg liquids, gravies and confectioneries? Gouri Deo Kubair kindly sent a couple of Spice Drops samples and I started experimenting. The first thing I did with the ginger and the cardamom extract was add it too my chai( I had a sore throat and cold for more than a week). It just made my cuppa into a nice warm comforting one. Winters will be so exciting now, to sip my ginger-cardamom spiced tea!!
Then I went ahead to make a traditional vegetable side. Tinda sabji very much referred to as Dhemsa in Marathi.
Dhemsyachi (Tinda) bhaji:
Tomato puree 2 tablespoons
Onion paste 1 tablespoon
Green chillies 2 slit
Oil for tempering
Mustard, asafoetida, turmeric for tempering
Coriander-Cumin powder 1 tsp
Garam masala 2 tsp
Ginger extract from Spice Drops 3 drops
Chop the vegetables into cube. In a pan, heat oil and prepare the tempering. To this add potatoes and dhemsa cubes. Add turmeric and stir well. Cover and cook till done well. Move these to a bowl. In the same pan, add some more oil. Add in the onion paste and saute well. To this add the tomato puree and cook until the oil separates. Add the dry spices and some water to loosen the gravy. Add the cooked vegetable cubes. Mix well. To this if you need, add a quarter cup of water to make the gravy thinner. I added the ginger extract at this point and mixed well. Season with salt. Cover and cook for another couple of minutes. It added sharp yet subtle flavour to my vegetable preparation.
Next I went ahead to make a Sandesh(sweet meat from Bengal)
To make them, you will need to prepare paneer/chena first.
4 cups of whole milk
2 tablespoons lemon juice, with a tablespoon of water
2 tbsp of confectioners sugar
Saffron strands a few
Cardamom extract 2-3 drops
Preparation of Chena:
Bring the milk to boil. Turn of the heat. Add in the diluted lemon juice slowly into the boiled milk. Stir the milk slowly while you add the lemon juice. When the cheese/chena/paneer separates from the whey, drain it in a muslin and wash in cold water. This will do away with the any lemon juice and it’s smell. Squeeze out the water nice and tight. Place the chena under some weight for about an hour.
Knead the chena with hands if you can. I used my small blender and made my chena into a nice soft chena. Add in 2 tablespoon of confectioner’s sugar and knead well. Here I added cardamom flavour from Spice Drops. Just as I was rolling the sandesh, I could smell a wonderful aroma and an enticing warm aroma of cardamom in my sandesh. Grease the sandesh moulds and press the chena to make your desired shaped sandesh. Before pressing the chena in the moulds, the chena needs to be heated in a thick bottom pan for about 3 to 4 mins). This enables the sugar to melt and the sandesh may soften a wee bit. However, when moulded and cooled, it retains a shape. Garnish with saffron strands. We could not resist gobbling these sweet meats, it is our favourite anyways yet, the spicedrops added to them gave a distinct spicy-sweet flavour to my mishit (sandesh). The extracts did not impart any colour to the sweet meat. Which definitely is a plus!
I am absolutely pleased with the spice extracts. It makes churning food so much easier and without creating any mess in the kitchen. The best part is, the Spice Drops have a shelf life of three years. This obviously reduces wastage which essentially happens with the regular spice blends we get. The only part my foodie mind would like to satisfy is the texture these spices offer in our cuisine. However, with a time crunch in today’s lifestyle and for the people who enjoy making elaborate Indian meals Spice Drops are definitely a respite. A quick prep done with choppings and pureeing and a set of Spice Drops handy in the pantry can definitely make life so much better and easier in the kitchen. Now I want the whole box of Spice Drops!!