Tata Sampann: Journey through the Spices of India

In the earlier days, spices were crushed with a mortar stone, after which plain water was added to form a paste, if it was to be used immediately or preservatives were added, if it was intended to be used in future too, and then stored in airtight jars. Today, however, with limited or no time available for cooking, but with the mind having the desire to taste and feel the authentic aroma of the food cooked by our mother and grandmother, Tata Sampann> is here to help, with spices developed specially by the cult chef Sanjeev Kapoor.

Do you want know what’s cooking in my mind today? Follow me on this journey to discover the fragrance of a few common spices like the Punjabi Chole Masala, Paneer Masala, Dal Tadka Masala, Chilli powder and turmeric from the house of Tata Sampann that are made using finer assortment of whole spices sourced from the finest spice farms of Kerala.

They have another advantage of giving fresh natural superior quality flavor and aroma, as it retains the natural spice oil which is not drained out before packaging. The absence of natural spice oil also speeds up the breakdown of the flavour, which is why normally available ground spices have a shorter shelf life. Even inside a masala box, it is further separated into individual pouches, which ensures that they remain fresh, fragrant and pure and not get diluted due to constant use.

The very first glance of the spice package that arrived with an embroidery of satin threads and a fabric lace, that wrapped the spice packets in a warm and comforting embrace, gave an enchanting feeling where the mind drowned in the crescendo of soul pleasures and a basket that seemed to savor the smells and flavors of the spices that has been wrapped with great skill.

I try those spices that sing the magic and listen to the answer that will come where every dish gets a special color and a fragrance. And as I feel the aroma of these spices, I see that the spices wait for a lover and a bit of human love, to bring out its exquisiteness, which is eager to come out.

Chana Masala and Paneer Masala

And I found the inspiration for the chole masala with chickpeas, peas and mushrooms, seasoned with tomato sauce, coconut milk and spices that enrich a simple but tasty dish accompanied by naan. For the Paneer recipe, I combined fresh cheese and flavored it with the sauce of spices. There is nothing like this, and for me is the best with a pungent mix of flavorful spices which are not too powerful, but well balanced.

I let myself be drawn to the rich colors of the dishes that lie on my table, with a little bit of aroma and lots of fantasy. The chole masala and paneer masala managed to transport me into a mysterious and magical world where these spices are the undisputed lord, and is far beyond the other spices that I used daily in the kitchen to flavor my dishes.

Dal Tadka Masala

The wise and creative use of these well known spices has the end result of always giving a subtle aroma, which has more than a violent assault on the senses, which I used fried or roasted, dried or in paste, in the beginning or at the end of cooking, either alone or in combination.

Then there are also the variants of the Tadka Masala, which instead I prepared by adding it to heated oil and when the aroma filled the air I add the sauce obtained to the other ingredients. The Dal Tadka Masala turned a simple dish of boiled rice into a pleasant and tasty meal that can also be taken with pulao, biryani and side dishes.

These spices only increases the desire to cook in these limited times, where I have to juggle between my daily office chores and those few minutes in the kitchen perhaps because of the scent that is released as soon as the packet covers are peeled, with essences that penetrate the soul and soften it.

Tasting the food made from these spices was like traveling through the scents and the magic of North India, where Punjabi Chole Masala, Paneer Masala and Dal Tadka Masala is a part of everyday life, that helped me with a gastronomic rediscovery of ancient and universal value of love that manages to soften the shell of the toughest seed.

If you are tempted to the idea and want to test yourself and can’t wait for the Goodness Ki Shuruaat, you can use these spice mixes from different parts of India that you can replicate in your kitchens and customize according to your taste and that of your guests.

These spices will immerse you in a world of aroma and magic because, believe it or not, these will always arouse a mysterious flavor in the ordinary dishes and this is a Masaledar Sach.

Impressions from Dia de los Muertos in Mexico

We left early for the city of Morelia, capital of the state of Michoacan, which is approximately 350 km from Mexico City. We arrived in Morelia, a beautiful city, very old and with a lot of history to tell, especially about the independence of Mexico.

We toured the city, which was formerly called Valladolid. We visited the Cathedral, the Plaza de Armas, several palaces, temples and schools. All has murals of the history of the city and Mexico, very nice and well preserved. The city was already preparing for the Dia de los Muertos or the Day of the Dead. I immediately realized that it was going to be an especially heartfelt celebration, for the city as for me.

What characterizes the Day of the Dead? It is a mixture between the feeling of sadness for having lost loved ones, and a kind of celebration because they went to a better place. The whole city is decorated with flowers, fruits, crosses, candles, skulls and very funny skeletons dressed in elegant attire, called caterinas.

And in every house, hotel, restaurant, there is a kind of altar with decorations, offerings and even pictures of the dead. The families gather in the cemeteries and decorate the graves of their dead with yellow flowers of cempoalxochitl. There are also fruits such as bananas, oranges and lemons painted in colors, breads in the form of animals or of thread and sugar figures . The tombs are covered with embroidered napkins. On them people put pots, jugs and baskets with the deceased's favorite foods and candles that guide the path of the dead.

Imagine the surprise to find ourselves in the main square with tombstones, tombs and crosses everywhere! We were walking through the square. Each piece of grass had a grave with its respective adornment, and offerings such as bread, tortillas and even a bottle of tequila. There were also photos of the deceased and memorial skeletons.

In short, the reason why we went to stop in Morelia is because near there, about 50 km away, there is a large lake called Patzcuaro with several islands. In one of them, Janitzio, we can see the night of the Day of the Dead, in all its majesty. Those who go to the cemetery there are mostly indigenous, which makes it more autochthonous. But as it is difficult to go, we hired a tour.

The tour took us first to the town of Tzintzuntzan (each name is a tongue twister here). We got off the bus in a route full of people, cars, taco stalls and bars. There we went, to the pyramid but it was all dark, nor did it appear in the photos. We go down to the square by a pedestrian avenue, full of people, with a band playing, crafts, food, balloons and skeletons. All very typical.

We continue our trip to the pier of San Pedrito, where we took a boat that took us to the Janitzio island. The island turned out to be beautiful, with its buildings rising from the pier to the top. There is a monument, with narrow streets full of food and craft stalls with many people everywhere. And, although we climb to the top of the whole, the nicest thing is simply to walk around the island. I imagine that by day it must be very impressive because of the views that there are of the city and the lake Patzcuaro.

We went a little and then we went to the cemetery that was like the metro at 5 o'clock in the afternoon. Many indigenous families were decorating the tombs and accompanying their dead. The tradition is that they stay with them all night. The children sleep and the women and men decorate and keep the tomb clean.

The truth is that it is an unusual sensation. On the one hand there is a staggering silence, because everyone understands the sensitivity of the situation. That does not prevent them from taking a photo at 15 cm from the face of the poor Indian who watches her dead, with flash!

Worst of all, there are so many people that we do not know where we are going. We do not even see our feet! Everyone walks around and stumbles wherever they can. I'm sure I trampled on a few graves. The evening was truly an exceptional moment, much more impressive than Halloween. I like this kind of surprise.

After the walk through the cemetery, which lasted a long time because there was a traffic jam, we returned to the dock, and to the boat, and then to the collective and much later, to Morelia. We go to finally sleep like at 5 am.

Dia de los Muertos in Mexico

A Letter to My Life

Dear Zindagi,

Today, I am writing this letter to let you know, how important you are for me and today, in the middle of my thirties, I'm writing to tell you again that I love you and declare my gratitude for you. I started loving you from the enchanted morning of the day I was born and since then we live a fairytale difficult to describe in words.

You are the most beautiful gift that the divinity may have granted to my body, and you are so beautiful, deep and full of details that you can only weep with joy for having received this as a gift.

I love you because you free me from the darkness that envelope me and choke my thoughts, hopes and dreams every now and then. I love you because you help me to know how to better discern the real values of life from the song of the nightingale, from the cawing of crows to the intolerance and understanding.

There are times when it seems that you and I are going in two separate directions, but in reality it is not so, as the many small and big trials teach me, guide me in my growth that I have to pass in order to get back to fight with all my strength. I love you, life! I am honored to have had another opportunity to grow my soul through you, for the great wisdom that you give.

You not only lead me to climb high peaks, and help me attain unexpected results but also make me feel those moments and my essence, my character, and my personality. I'm not afraid, my life. Even when you make me angry, but like an old lady, you insist me on not giving up on what I think is my right.

I'll try to provide you with enough smiles and as little tears as possible. I'm sorry if I do not always thank you for the daily opportunities that you give me. My life, nobody can tear myself away from you, only other than the natural course. Before that day there is you and your passion, love, and emotion. You have opened in front of me a door that no one can close.

When I take a step back and start to analyze myself, I realize that the difficulties, the ups and downs, and all the problems have helped make me the person I’m today. You have always been my number one fan as you are the guardian, the best friend, the teacher and the list can go on and on.

There were times when I did not understand you and only now I realize the importance of all you did for me. You showed me how to treat others with kindness, compassion, and love. You've turned me into a man, who is able to express himself and his emotions, without fear of being considered weak by others.

The best thing is that I'm still learning from you every single day. I know, I made you angry at times and I told you phrases that I would not want to tell you. Despite that, you've always been proud of me, as you enjoyed my successes and accepted my failures.

You always believed in me and my dreams, even in the moments when I did not even believe in myself. You are my supporter, my rock. You're the first person I go when times are tough and I need to be reassured.

I hope you can look at the man that I've become and be proud. Yes, there are so many people I have to thank as many people have made me the man that I am today, but you're the first one that deserves my gratitude. You are the best thing that happened to me.

We will be together forever. I will keep you and will feed you more each day to the best that I can, and I will always honor you, every hour, every minute and every second. Every little fragment of time is very important because this moment will never exist again and I cannot afford to waste any of that.

With infinite love from your number one fan,

Best Places to Travel in November

November travel

Looking for ideas to organize your holidays in November. Find out where to go in the best destinations of the planet and the ideal cities to visit towards the end of Fall. When talking about November vacation ideas, Europe is way above any comparison with all other areas of the world.