In Bindia’s Chicken Jeera Masala you will get a bite of the true, authentic India, raw and undiluted and with lots of exotic spices – but it is still Jeera that’s in charge.
”Jeera” means cumin and ”Masala” is the name of the countless spice blends, which traditionally are made from scratch in the Indian households. In the West, the Masala spice blend is best known as curry powder (sometimes called “Garam Masala”) even though it’s not quite the same.
The curry powder was, in fact, devised in the 18th century as a British attempt to standardize and commercialize the many exciting spice blends, which are so central to Indian cooking.
There are several good reasons why the western curry powders never reach the quality of a true Indian masala; among other reasons, during cooking Indians use spices in more intricate ways than we traditionally do in the West where the curry powder is often as if it were salt. Even though there exists far wider variation among the true Indian Masalas, both the curry powder and its ‘ancestors’ often contain cumin as a supporting or dominating spice.
The spice has a particular warmth and an almost smoky, nutty, or earthy taste. If added correctly during the cooking process, it can add depth to other flavors – even in tiny quantities and in dishes you wouldn’t suspect would be a fitting candidate for cumin.
The spice has a particular warmth and an almost smoky, nutty, or earthy taste. If added correctly in the cooking process, it can add depth to other flavors – even in tiny quantities and in dishes you wouldn’t suspect would be a fitting candidate for cumin.
Consequently, it has been used anywhere it can be cultivated and it has had a prominent culinary role in great civilizations like the Roman Empire and Ancient Greece. In Ancient Egypt, cumin was both used for cooking as well as in the mumification process. Due to archeological excavations, we know that cumin has at least been used by humans for about 8,000 years.
Since time immemorial, cumin has similarly been a cornerstone in India, which today is the world’s biggest producer of the spice, contributing to about 70% of the world’s total output. Especially in Northern India where Bindia’s founder and head chef, Amer Suleman is from, cumin is almost something like a basic substance, and many North Indian curries therefore often begins with a tempering including cumin.
Tempering is a specific spicing method common in India and its neighboring countries. During tempering, grinded spices are stir-fried at burning hot temperatures. When the crushed spices hit the boiling fat, they produce a heat shock response by discharging their essential oils and, thereby, rich flavor. And, of course, we do the same in our Chicken Jeera Masala with cumin and other exciting spices, including ajwain and turmeric.
”There’s a tendency in the West that an Indian curry should be puréed, almost mashed into into a porridge,” says Amer Suleman. “But in my Chicken Jeera Masala, I want you to be able to see, feel, and taste everything – in a raw and undiluted sense.”
Obviously, cumin is the most influential spice in this authentic Chicken Jeera Masala. It doesn’t just add depth to the other spices, but simultaneously compliments fresh raw materials like ginger, garlic, onion, and tomato.
Last, but not least, we use tenderloins from Danish chickens in our Chicken Jeera Masala. These we marinate in our own marinade of tandoori spices, which are spices that can handle the scorching heat of a tandoor oven. In our marinade these includes spices like ginger, turmeric, and fenugreek. Finally, we grill the meat at very temperatures to ensure that it doesn’t dry out, but stays juicy, tasty, and tender.