Panch phoron is a whole spice blend used in Eastern Indian and Bangladesh, especially in Bengali cuisine. Panch phoron literally means five spices. It’s a blend of Cumin seeds, Fennel seeds, Mustard seeds, Nigella seeds and Fenugreek seeds in equal proportions. Unlike other spice powders which are roasted and pounded, panch phoron is not ground.
Panch phoron is usually tempered in ghee or oil and is added in vegetable stir-fry’s, lentils and pickles. Each spice brings out a distinctive flavour. Cumin has a unique flavour and adds an earthy, strong and warm flavour. Fennel is highly aromatic and slightly sweet. Mustard has a sharp, hot and pungent flavour. Nigella seeds have a peppery and smoky flavour. Fenugreek is very aromatic and has a slightly bitter taste. The tempering releases the aroma and flavours of these spices.
The five spices not only impart flavour to the dish, but have significant health benefits too. Cumin helps in digestion and is an excellent source of iron. Fennel is used for digestive problems and a rich source of anti-oxidants, dietary fiber, minerals and vitamins. Mustard seeds speed up metabolism and are good source of antioxidants, selenium and magnesium. Nigella boosts immune function, fights cancer, inflammation and allergies and is a natural remedy to many diseases. Fenugreek seeds are used to cure digestive problems and a rich source of minerals, vitamins, and nutrients.
The panch phoron spice mix can be kept fresh for long time by storing in an airtight container. I will be posting few recipes using this spice mix soon!