Panch phoron (five-spice mix) is a spice blend used in Bangladesh and Eastern India, especially in Bengali, Assamese, and Oriya cuisine.
Panch phoron literally means five spices. Panch means "five" and phoron is "flavour" or "spice", hence the common translation Five-Spice". It’s a blend of Cumin seeds, Fennel seeds, Mustard seeds, Nigella seeds and Fenugreek seeds.Unlike most spice mixes, paanch phoron is always used whole and never ground.
All of the spices in paanch phoron are seeds.These five little seeds combined together can change the flavor of a humble dish. They are known as paanch phoron in Bengali kitchens and paanch phutana in Odiya households. Kitchens in Eastern India are incomplete without this aromatic spice mix.
Some prefer to use a smaller proportion of fenugreek seeds, which have a mildly bitter taste.
Some variations may substitute aniseed for the fennel seeds or wild mustard for cumin, radhuni seed for mustard, and possibly black cumin for nigella.
Generally the ingredients are added in equal proportions, though this can vary according to taste.
How to use
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 seeds and causing them to pop in the pan.
This technique is called "baghaar" (literally "tempering") in Oriya, "phoron" in Bengali, and "chaunk" in Hindi. At this point, one adds the other ingredients to coat with the spice mixture.
Panch phoron is usually added in vegetable stir-fry’s, lentils,fish recipes and pickles etc.
Finely crushed panch phoran can be prepared by roasting the whole spices and then crushing them into fine powder. A blender may be used for this purpose. The finely crushed panch phoran are used for marinades or stews or soups.
1 part nigella (Kalonji ) seeds
1 part black mustard seeds
1 part fenugreek seeds
1 part fennel seeds
1 part cumin seeds
Each spice brings out a distinctive flavor.
Cumin has a unique flavor and adds an earthy, strong and warm flavor.
Fennel is highly aromatic and slightly sweet.
Mustard has a sharp, hot and pungent flavor.
Nigella seeds have a peppery and smoky flavor.
Fenugreek is very aromatic and has a slightly bitter taste.
Panch phoron is a colorful blend of flavorful seeds
The green of fennel seed
Black mustard and nigella seeds,
Golden fenugreek and buff-colored cumin seeds.
Panch phora, panch puran, panchpuran, punch poran, punch puram, punchpuram, panch phutana etc.
How to select
Avoid purchasing pre ground or crushed panch phoran, because its volatile aromatic notes quickly dissipate and what's left is single-dimensional hotness. Whole panch phoran should be heavy, compact and free of any blemishes. Just like with other dried spices, when purchasing panch phoran, try to select that which is organically grown since this will give you more assurance that it has not been irradiated. While buying packaged panch phoran, check the expiry date and feel for lumpiness (sign of moisture inside the packet.)
The panch phoran should be kept in a tightly sealed glass container in a cool, dark and dry place.
Spices are the natural way of caring for yourself. In fact, special preparations of spices are an integral part of Indian culture and society and help the doctor away. Spices can’t only improve the taste of your food, but can also improve the state of your health. Spice provides a wealth of flavors to a range of colourful, aromatic, multi – textured cuisines across the country.
Apart from imparting a unique flavour and taste, the five types of spices used in panch phoran have significant health benefits too..
Ayurvedic point of view..
According to Ayurveda, including all the six tastes sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent and astringent in each main meal contributes to mind and body balance.
Aroma of the spices as they pop and splutter in hot oil has such an amazing effect on the olfactory system, that craving for more is not an option, but a must!
This famous combination of panch phoron is the mild spices used to support digestion. They have vata and kapha pacifying properties without increasing pitta.
Now we will look into General and Ayurvedic properties of each spice.
- The presence of cumin will stimulate the secretion of pancreatic enzymes for proper digestion and nutrient assimilation. As with other carminative spices, cumin's digestive stimulating effects are due to its content of volatile oils.
- Cumin seeds also boost the power of the liver to flush out toxins from the body.
- These seeds are very rich in Iron, which makes it an essential natural health ingredient.
- Anti-oxidant characteristics of cumin fight against impurities and free radicals thereby making the body immunity better in combating diseases.
- Cumin has antiseptic and anti-microbial properties. It keeps various viral infections at bay. Cumin has been found to be very beneficial for the respiratory organs. Because of its warm nature it helps in suppressing the mucus formation.
- They help in the secretion of anti-carcinogenic enzymes and helps in preventing the growth of cancer cells. It is known to provide strong radical scavenging activity.
Ayurvedic View-Cumin is bitter and slightly pungent. It decreases Vata and Kapha and increases Pitta if taken in high doses.In Sanskrit, Cumin is known as jiraka. Jira means “that which helps digestion”. Ayurveda considers jiraka as one of the best digestive tonics. Some of the Ayurvedic health benefits of cumin are that it dispels gas, eliminates toxins, is a mild laxative, and is anti-inflammatory.Cumin kindles the gastric fire or the agni (digestive fire).
- Mustard seeds are a good source of dietary fibers that improve digestion in the body. They make the bowel movements better, thus improving the overall metabolism of the body.
- Mustard is a good source of selenium and magnesium. Selenium helps people with asthma and rheumatoid arthritis while magnesium lowers high blood pressure, reduces migraines and also prevents heart attack.
- Mustard seeds are also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids as well as iron, calcium, zinc, manganese, magnesium, protein, niacin and dietary fiber.
- The seeds contain a unique substance called mucilage which is a thick slimy substance that is the key to relieving constipation.
- In addition, mustard seeds are known to increase the production of saliva, leading to better digestion.
- Tocopherols present in mustard inhibit growth of certain yeasts, molds, and bacteria, enabling mustard to function as a natural preservative.
Ayurvedic View - Mustard is bitter and pungent in taste with a hot potency. It is acrid, thermogenic, anti-inflammatory, carminative, digestive, and tonic in quality and is recommended in vitiated conditions of Vata and Kapha, malarial fevers, colic pain, anorexia, dyspepsia, intestinal worms, flatulence,and inflammations.
- Fenugreek is one of the healthiest foods that a diabetic person can consume. It has been found to lower the blood sugar level in the body and increase the tolerance of glucose. It is high in dietary fiber like Galactomannan which slows down the absorption of sugar in the blood.
- Fenugreek aids digestion. It releases mucilage which produces a protective layer for stomach and intestines and lowers gastric problems and indigestion.
- Fenugreek seeds in your food can be an effective remedy for acid reflux or heartburn.
- Fenugreek seeds help in lowering LDL cholesterol in the blood and increases HDL in the body. They help in lowering triglycerides.
- It is rich in many essential minerals. Iron helps in the production of RBC cells and increases hemoglobin in the body. Potassium helps in lowering the blood pressure in the body.
- Health benefits of fenugreek include anti-inflammatory properties. Thus, fenugreek can be helpful against arthritis.
Ayurvedic View-Fenugreek is a very warming seed that mitigates kapha and vata dosha and is used to treat constipation, high cholesterol, diabetes and obesity. It's useful in inflammatory disorders,joint pains and in diabetes etc. They have a strong aroma and are pungent. But when used in small quantities they impart flavor to your food and are nourishing.
- Fennel is known to improve cognitive functions in a person. It is also helpful in the proper circulation of oxygen to the brain cells and nerves which make them active. Memory is enhanced by its consumption.
- Fennel is diuretic and thus can be helpful in flushing out the toxins from the body and providing healthy body.
- It is high in dietary fibre, Vitamin-A and Vitamin-C. Minerals like calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc and phosphorous can also be found in it.
- LDL cholesterol can be lowered by its consumption as it is rich in antioxidants and phytonutrients. Even good HDL cholesterol increases by fennel consumption.
- Fennel is high in anti-carcinogenic compounds like antioxidants, flavonoids, alkaloids and phenols.
Ayurvedic View- Fennel is described as being especially good for reducing colic. Fennel is also known for its ability to improve mandagni (low digestion ) It also helps in the case of constipation (baddhavit), and fights krimi (pathogenic microbes).
Nigella / Kalonji Seeds
Nigella / Kalonji Seeds
- It is also known to benefit the stomach because of its anti-bacterial properties.
- It possesses heart-protective qualities, dampening damages associated with heart attacks and boosting overall heart health.
- The pharmacological investigations of the seed extracts reveal a broad spectrum of activities including immunopotentiation, antihistaminic, antidiabetic, anti-hypertensive, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial activities.
- The seeds are also rich in sterols, especially beta-sitosterol, which is known to have anti carcinogenic activity.
- Black seed helps to ease gastro-intestinal disorders. It contains an essential oil nigellone that helps to cleanse the stomach thoroughly. It also stimulates bile, therefore aiding the digestive process.
- So, it's time to move over all those exotic spices. Just revel in the power of five for an authentic taste.
Ayurvedic view- Kalonji is a very good Ayurvedic medicine and Ayurved appreciates its many qualities and bitter, warming, stimulant nature.It also has vata and kapha reducing traits. It is used in wide variety of diseases like hemorrhoids, hepatitis, fever, diarrhea, cough, and tapeworm, to mention only a few of them. Nigella Sativa works in a different way, which makes it suitable for diseases of the immune system itself, eg. Allergies; TB; cancer; aids etc.
The five spices used in Panch phoron have immence health benefits.Only few important health benefits have been mentioned above as it's interminable to quote all the uses.
There are enormous health advantages of this healthy unification if used regularly in the diet. If you have not tried this strong authentic flavorful spice blend, do give it a shot.