Tag Archives: kalonji

The Quest for Kalonji, making the Bengali 5-Spice

I haven’t had any money in the past few weeks. Things are usually pretty tight but between going to Costa Rica, Dan crashing his car, and not getting paid since December 15th I have been beyond broke. I have been mostly eating rice and beans and other favorites from the pantry but I knew I needed some fresh vegetables. I went to the store attempting to spend only 5 dollars, I needed onions and garlic and some sort of green. When money is the tight the best thing to buy is usually cabbage because it is good for you and cheaper than the rest of the leafy greens.

The next day I was on Fat Free vegan and she had an Indian style recipe that looked too good to pass up but I also noticed that it was a side dish for a Cauliflower dahl that she raved about in a previous post. Since I also had cauliflower it seemed like the perfect meal, except that I was missing one spice, Kalonji.

I had never heard of it before so of course I became overcome with a burning desire to find it as soon as possible. Later that day Dan was in the area of Whole Foods so I sent him on a mission, they didn’t have it. The next day I went to the middle-eastern grocery store by my house that sells some other “ethnic” ingredients but they didn’t have it either. I ended up making samosas that night anticipating making an Indian feast later in the week and having the leftover samosas. I spoke with an Indian friend at work who told me she would look for it but had never heard of it. The next day, I stopped by Central Market, our huge, high-end, has-every-kind-of-produce store. I looked all over; the Indian section, the bulk section, the spice section. I was standing gaping at the spices when a friendly worker asked if I needed help. She couldn’t find the spices either but told me about a secret south side Indian grocery store. Thrilled, I went on my way to the access road of the IH-35 and nearly passed a non-descript Indian grocery store. I walked in the front door and the first thing I saw was Kalonji! I also found dried mangos for amchoor, black urad dhal, and some tamarind chutney.

cauliflower-dal-with-panch-phoran