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

7 thoughts on “The Quest for Kalonji, making the Bengali 5-Spice

  1. Jes

    The dahl looks great! And I hear you on the bean & rice diet. I’ve been eating beans, lentils, rice, and cabbage all week (in varying combinations).

  2. aredcardigan

    amazing….amazing….i know what u meant abt other foodie sites….but everyone is such an inspiration to eat better and live better.

    vegans rock!

    you rock!

  3. Benjamin

    Yea shree gee is pretty rad…and freaking hard to find! but once you find it they gots lots of neat stuff..including ragi flour…which is a type of millet flour they make ragi balls out of …a dish I had alot of when I was volunteering at an orphanage in bangalore last year.

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  5. Sarah C.

    You didn’t mention what you thought of the kalonji. Very unique taste, eh? I have only had them in Turkish food, but I love that flavor so I bought a huge bag once at a Middle Eastern grocery. Now I have to figure out what I want to do with them. Thanks for this suggestion!

  6. lazysmurf Post author

    I used it again in an eggplant dish that was fantastic, I really like it, the whole bengali-5 spice is a great mix.

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