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Feb 3, 2010 07:14 AM

Indian Spices: Amchoor Powder & Garam Masala and ?: Kosher Sources?

Good morning chowhounds.

I would like to know if anyone knows of a source for heckshered Indian ground spices, such as amchoor (dried green mango powder, which imparts a sour flavor) and garam masala. It is my understanding, and our practice at home, that I don't need a hecksher for whole spices, such as cumin seeds, cardamon pods, etc.

We have used the packaged Indian foods, which are heckshered, but they really are of poor quality and loaded with salt and fat. So I am ready to venture into making my own dishes, but need a source for authentic spices.

Thanks very much for any help, p.j.

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  1. The Spice House is a chain with excellent quality offerings and their Milwaukee outlet is certified locally. They have an online store and will ship specifically from that location upon request:

    5 Replies
    1. re: ferret

      Thanks very much. I had forgotten about Spice House. My cousin in Milwaukee shops there, and we have discussed whether Spice House is related to Penzy's, which does not carry a hecksher, but has a store in St. Louis.
      I will have to order asap!
      Take care, p.j.

      1. re: p.j.

        The Spice House was started by a Penzey and there is definitely a connection.

        1. re: ferret

          Yes, that's what I thought. I wish Penzey's would join the kosher fold!
          Take care, p.j.

          1. re: p.j.

            Why? What's better about it than Spice House?

            1. re: queenscook

              There is a Penzey's store 10 minutes from my house: convenience. Purely selfish on my part! I love to sniff my way around the store.

    2. Fairway has heckshered garam masala in their house brand spice section. I'm not sure about amchoor since I've never heard of it/looked for it.

      4 Replies
      1. re: avitrek

        Kosher garam masala is pretty common. If you check the OU site they list about a dozen brands.

        1. re: ferret

          Mcormick Special Reserve Garam Masala is ou and in most grocery stores.

          1. re: azna29

            Thanks, azna29. I checked the McCormick's web-site, and will ask my DH to look for it when he does the grocery shopping tonight.
            I actually have all the ingredients, but am clueless about the proportions: "ContainsSPICES (INCLUDING CORIANDER, BLACK PEPPER, CUMIN, CARDAMOM, AND CINNAMON)." I guess that also might mean "including but not limited to".
            Take care, p.j.

            1. re: p.j.

              Proportions are the key (and distinguish one region's from another's in India). I saw a documentary years ago about woman who was a traveling spice blender (more common in India). She had a regular route of customers and would go from house to house grinding up fresh batches of masalas for her clients. Pretty cool.

      2. whole foods also has the garam masala. Also, do you know anyone that visits Israel? They could pick up stuff from the shuk, or someone could mail it....

        1 Reply
        1. re: peacepug

          Unfortunately, no one going soon. I will check out Whole Foods, and the McCormick at the grocery store tonight.
          Thanks, peacepug.,
          Take care, p.j.

        2. Do you have a local kosher Persian store? I've seen dried green limes, lime powder, and mango powder at ours with an RCC hechsher (I think the distributor is Sadaf) as a substitute for amchoor. You could also use tamarind paste instead.

          14 Replies
          1. re: mamaleh

            Amchoor is the same as mango powder.

            1. re: mamaleh

              No kosher Persian stores in St. Louis! I see you are in the LA area. Who is the RCC?

              I will have to look for Sadaf products at our two excellent international grocery stores.

              I can't find heckshered tamarind paste either. And I am too lazy to make it.
              Thanks p.j.

              1. re: p.j.

                The RCC is the Rabbinical Council of California, which is a widely accepted hechsher. I checked the tamarind paste in my cupboard, and it is produced by a Persian company called Golchin. It has a Kehilla hechsher (K inside a heart, also California). Both Golchin and Sadaf have a lot of kosher Persian and middle eastern products with good hechshers. Good luck at your market.

                1. re: mamaleh

                  Thanks, mamaleh. I know I have seen Sadaf products here in St. Louis. Golchin is new to me, but I will check it out. Take care, p.j.

              2. re: mamaleh

                There's an Indian recipe I make with some regularity that calls for "amchoor or lemon juice." It took a while until I found amchoor (or even had any idea what it was) so I used lemon juice. Finally I found amchoor and I keep a bag of it in the freezer. I can feel good now because I'm using the authentic ingredient. But the differential in taste? Negligible.

                1. re: Pumpkinseed

                  Thanks for the advice, Pumpkinseed. p.j.

                  1. re: p.j.

                    Spicely offers amchoor with hechsher. I haven't tried it, but you can get it from them ( or from The hard one seems to be asafoetida. Starwest botanicals sells it, but only by the pound.

                    1. re: jacobadler

                      As mentioned above, The Spice House has one store that is certified kosher. Their listing for asafoetida says they have a 50 gram jar (that's about 2 oz.) available for $3.45; seems a lot better deal than a one pound container. I have no connection with The Spice House, and in fact, haven't ever even ordered from them, but it certainly seems like the obvious choice, unless you are the type of person who cooks enough to use an entire pound of asafoetida.

                      1. re: queenscook

                        Not all of the items on their website are available at the kosher store. I tried to buy certified kosher amchoor powder from the Spice House's kosher location in Milwaukee last week, and they do not make a kosher certified version.

                            1. re: mamaleh

                              I e-mailed the Spice House to ask about amchoor and asafoetida, and they say that they don't have kosher versions of either one. That's what sent me looking further. It looks like a few of us in the shul are going to set up an asafoetida collective, and share the pound of asafoetida from Starwest.

                              1. re: jacobadler

                                That is a great idea: sort of a food co-op through your shul! That could work for wheels of cheese as well.
                                Good thinking, jacobadler. Thanks..

                                1. re: p.j.

                                  Well, p.j., it just sort of happened. I was teaching a class at the shul and mentioned that I wanted to get some asafoetida, but it came only in 1-lb. quantities. A number of the students said they wanted some, too. So there was our co-op!

              3. If anyone is looking for Kala Namak (black salt) with an OU hechsher, it can be ordered through