In essence, this is an elaborate garam masala. Literally translated, dhana jiru means “coriander and cumin,” but you can see that this is only the beginning. There’s also some terminological confusion. Some people see dhansak masala as synonymous with dhana jiru; others see the former as a combination of dhana jiru and sambhar. I prefer to keep them separate and combine them as necessary. Use this recipe when either dhansak masala or dhana jiru is called for.
Recipes for these mixtures often call for the most esoteric ingredients, such as dug-gar ka phul, a lichen, and for tiny amounts of hard-to-find spices like nag kesar, or snake saffron—often mistranslated as “saffron,” but a totally different thing, resembling a peppercorn with a tail. I have left them out here because they are not generally available in the United States. I’ve eaten great wads of lichen to determine what its effect is and still don’t know. Should you be determined, and should you be able to find them, add one teaspoon of the duggar ka phul and half a teaspoon of nag kesar. Your best strategy for making this masala is to shop where you can buy spices in small amounts. Refer to the Glossary and the Sources section for more details on identifying and locating these ingredients. To avoid fits of sneezing while you’re grinding, sifting, and bottling, wear an ordinary hardware store dust mask.
© 2007 All rights reserved. Published by University of California Press.