Panch Phoron – A must in almost every Bengali kitchen

Growing up, I always had trouble in understanding ingredients forget cooking with one. I knew nothing about cooking and would hardly enter the kitchen. All the spices in the rack looked similar to me except the one, which Mom used more often than others. It somehow used to stand out in the rack and looked different from the others. Eventually, I became familiar with the spice mix and learnt that it is a must-have spice mix in almost every Bengali kitchen.

Panch Phoron – it’s a mix of five aromatic spices – fenugreek seeds, nigella seeds, cumin seeds, radhuni and fenel seeds. It works wonderfully to flavor the dish. It’s used for tampering and goes very well with lentils, vegetable stir-fries, pickles and at times, even with meat.

Panch is five and Phoron is tampering and that’s how the name came up. I guess!

Mom uses this spice a lot and for certain dishes like a traditional Bengali shukto, without panch phoron, the dish would feel incomplete. I never knew why until I started using it and realized how beautifully all these five spices blend together adding a warm flavor to the dish.

Fenugreek Seeds (Methi)

These looks like tiny stones, hard with a nutty flavor. It has a pungent smell, incredibly aromatic and tastes slight bitter. Always use in less quantity as it can overpower any other flavor you use in a dish. It helps the digestive system and fights infection. I adore Fenugreek leaves, both fresh and dried, but seeds are not in my favorite spice list for sure.

Nigella Seeds (Kalo Jira or Kalonji)

These black rough textured seeds have a lovely peppery taste. To bring out the flavor, it’s always advised to toast it slightly before adding it to any dish. They sure do look a lot like black onion seeds and can be easily confused with it. However, they’re not the same. This article by Monica would help you clear any doubts about these seeds.

Cumin Seeds (Jeera)

This is probably one of the most commonly used spices. I always prefer to dry roast it in a pan which evaporates the moisture and gives it a more powerful flavor. It is very widely used in Indian dishes and goes excellent with lentils, beans and curries of any kind. It’s also a great digestive aid.


I have no clue what’s this called in English or in Hindi! It’s one of those very rare spices, which are commonly used in most Bengali cuisines. It has a very strong flavor, a pungent spicy taste and can be easily confused with celery seeds or carom seeds (ajwain). Texture wise it’s softer than ajwain and celery seeds. I find it very difficult to find Radhuni outside Kolkata! Hence, I sometime replace them with mustard seeds or celery seeds.

Update: As per wiki, it’s called wild celery seeds in English and ajmod in hindi. Wonder why I never checked that!! Now, I need to find some wild celery.

Fennel Seeds (Saunf or Mouri)

Mom would always dry roast these in pan and serve it as a mouth freshener after a heavy meal. It helps in booting digestion! Just chew the seed and enjoy its sweet taste. It’s pale green in color and looks somewhat similar to cumin seeds. This is yet another spice that we use a lot in Bengali cuisine.

Finely or coarsely crushed Panch Phoron is also used in certain dishes however, I always prefer to use the whole spice mix.

Panch Phoron – A must in almost every Bengali kitchen

Panch Phoron – A must in almost every Bengali kitchen


  • 1 tablespoon nigella seeds
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon radhuni/mustard seeds/celery seeds
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
  • 1 tablespoon fenugreek seeds


  • Combine all the ingredients in an airtight jar.
  • Give it a good shake to mix them well


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What an easy but beautiful recipe! Would love to try out Kankana! Thank you for sharing the recipe. Love last picture the most 🙂

sayantani says:

thank God you added Randhuni, not mustard in your panchforon. these days the mix with mustard is everywhere and everyone seems to have forgotten that its not the original thing. beautiful clicks as always.

ohh it was last year that I started using panch phoron and I’m hooked!! I have my friend sent it to me from Kolkatta with this exact same recipe but i have never tried using it. And yes, I have been wondering what is randhuni in english!! LEt me know if u find out

Notyet100 says:

Beautiful pics ,..even I luv the flavour of panch shoran

These pictures are absolutely gorgeous! Radhuni looks like anise to me… but I’m ignorant of panch phoron, will check it out at the grocery stores here

Rosa says:

A great spice mix! I love all those seeds…



emily says:

Now, this is a spice combo that I’ve never tried before. When I start learning south asian recipes, I’m confused with the varying spices as well ha! Even now, I’m quite cautious with mixing spices, in case the taste doesn’t get along.

I might have to substitute radhuni with mustard seeds. Can’t wait to try this spice mix! 😀

nisha says:

i have no clue what this tastes like, but im thoroughly loving the look of it…the cute lil bucket is gorgeous

Nandita says:

I have started using panch phoran only since the past few weeks and I am totally hooked to it. Great recipe and an equally great presentation. 🙂

Sukanya says:

Love, love your shots, specially the last one.
And so happy to see that you have used radhuni and not mustard, I am not sure but I have seen radhuni also mentioned as celery seeds. Sometimes i roasted and crushed them coarsely for shukto. And the flavour is so intoxicating

fantastic combo of spices, beautiful clicks

Kiri W. says:

What a great resource post 🙂 I always forget about the potentials of making your own spice mixes, and this is a beautiful one. Thank you for sharing!

Tiffany says:

It is amazing to me how beautiful you make food–especially these spices–look. Happy Friday!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 😀

Krithi says:

Lovely pics Kankana!!

I was not familiar with a couple of these spices…now I will have to search them out on my next shopping trip. Love the pictures, Kankana. 🙂

Vimitha says:

Nice clicks dear… and that is a very flavorful combination

gorgeous clicks Kanakana.. the radhuni do look sooo like ajwain..

Beautiful pictures, Kankana! The last one is especially adorable. I always get mixed up about the spices in panch phoron..haha. Now I have a resource to go to :P.

Lovely images in this post! Thank you for such informative and interesting information. I’m glad to have found your blog!

Love this recipe — thanks for dissecting panch puran for many who are still confused about the spices 🙂

Gorgeous photos!!!

That sounds like such a wonderfully fragrant and aromatic spice blend! And I just love all the spoons you’ve used in the photos!

Shumaila says:

Beautiful photographs! I haven’t ever cooked with panch phoron but lot of the spices remind me of the whole spices used in making pickled dishes. Have never heard of Radhuni as well, and looking at the picture thought it was ajjwain, but you mention its different. It’s so strange, being from the same country, there are still so many spices that one is not aware of because of the vast cooking styles all across India. I guess that’s what makes the country so unique.

I like the breakdown by spice with the accompanying image, very helpful!

Ambika says:

Lovely post Kankana! I have heard so much about panch phoran but somehow never used it. The Radhuni does look a lot like ajwain!! Love the last pic, did you decide to write and take a pic or took a pic and then write in?? hehe…either way, its turned out beautiful. And please tell me where you bought such cute spoons from? They are incredible cute and perfect!

Kankana says:

Thanks 🙂 I clicked the photo and then used picasa to write the text 🙂 And those spoons are from different places. I picked some during my trip to Bangkok and India and some are from US !

This is gorgeous… Love the ‘taste of home’ you bring to this post… and the pictures are SO beautiful. LOVE the spoons! Great post, Kankana!

Rosh says:

Very handy recipe…always wondered what it is made of! Love your clicks!

Chef Al dente On going event: Gimme GREEN!

Each n every pic is a beauty….
Hey Kankana is Radhuni is ajwain????

never used this spice blend, heard of it though & always wondered what it was, so a big thanks to u for demystefying it for me 🙂 gorgeous clicks (im in love with ur spoon collection)

I was like u avoiding the kitchen when I was small. First time I hear about Panch Phoron and I am glad to have found this useful information in your post. Love the idea too of the combination of spices.

thanks a lot for sharing and I wish u a nice weekend!

Joanne says:

I’ve heard of this blend but have never actually tried it! Gorgeous photos and thanks for the recipe.

nipponnin says:

This is really interesting post. I particularly like the stitched message. So cute!

Maja says:

This five are so tempting! So beautiful post Kankana, it was like I’m in your kitchen 🙂

Beautiful pictures, as always, Kankana! This is an interesting mix of spices. I have a question though, do you dry roast them before using? Or do you just powder and/or add them to whichever dish you’re making?

Kankana says:

Thanks for dropping by! I know that people dry roast and grind it to dust and uses it in dishes. But in most typical Bengali dishes, we do not dry roast or grind. We just mix the spices and keep it in a jar and use it for tampering. I will post a recipe sometime soon with Panch Phoron!

Tamara says:

I’m in love with this post and your photos! 🙂

Kala says:

I love the presentation, selective focus, and depth in all of these images Kankana!

Ever since I discovered Paanch Phoron, I am literally hooked. Just can’t get enough of it in curries, lentils and whatever else I can pull off with!
Love love this medley of five spices… It is almost magical..

creative beautiful pictures Kankana 🙂

Harini says:

I am in love with that balti, Kankana, and the beautiful silver spoons! So adorable and I like panch phoran too. Beautifully done!

Kankana, what a lovely pretty post! Coming from a country where spices are not used much, it’s an eye-opening experience for me to learn about Indian cuisines and new spices. I’ve been learning a lot by blog hopping! 🙂 Hope you are having a good weekend with this beautiful weather! I was in Napa today, and the weather was beautiful!

Farwin @ Loveandotherspices says:

Lovely pics and loved the breakdown of spices.Very informative !

Very informative posts 🙂 Thanks for sharing so much information. I don’t have Indian food much so I never knew there were so many spices ~ And hehe Nigella Seeds i had a bit of a laugh at that 😀

Congrats for making Top 9 on Food buzz!

Ameena says:

We aren’t Bengali but my Lucknow born father would totally agree with you on this. Actually, it’s one of the few spices I actually use – my mom gave me a recipe to use panch phoron in and it is fantastic! Even when I make it!

Gorgeous photos!

Hope you are having a great Sunday so far.

Liz says:

This is a new spice combination to me….but I’d love to find it and give it a try. Your photos are lovely!

Beautiful photography!
And this post is very informative! I am currently doing a bit of research on spice mixes of all kinds to literally ‘spice things up’ in my cooking so this is very much to my liking.


Nice pictorial tutorial into the Bengalo kitchen Kankana. Love your photos and those spoons with the Nigella seeds, I just received curry mixes (masalas) from Israel, Maharashtran style, but I suspect my sister sent them to me from a different spice shop. Mix is different!

What a wonderful post, I loved your explanation of all of the spices, some of which I was not familiar with, and well your photos of the spices are just so beautiful.

Lovely post Kankana. Beautiful clicks have added to the glory of this wonderful spice mix.

ohh! I just learned so much! Wonderful post and the pictures are amazing!

Veena says:

Amazing pictures! I’ve seen a wikipedia page and comments from Bengali cooks on forums say that Radhuni is wild celery in English. For a more authentic flavor, celery seeds would be a better substitute than black mustard seeds…

What a lovely post, Kankana..isn’t Radhoni..ajwain seeds? Looks like that.

Kankana says:

Hi Sanjeeta, It looks a lot like ajwain seeds but it’s different taste wise.

Vertika says:

Radhuni is a close relative of ajwain called ajmod or ajmodika….

Beautiful photos of those spices…Must look for some nigella seeds.

rebecca says:

sounds great and first class pics

I love this post Kankana! hmm now I know what is panch phoron, thank you- thank you…

I am head over heels with your gorgeous spices and now I must find radhuni as I never ever seen or had them before! Pls share some photography tips-your pics are breathtaking:-)

Beautiful images of each spice, Kankana. Excited to try this blend out in a veggie stir-fry. Thanks for sharing it!

According to Wiki Radhuni is wild celery, would agree with this? Just trying to track down the ingredients. 🙂 Beautiful pictures – BTW.

“Radhuni, as it’s known in Bengali (Bengali: রাধুনি), is often confused with celery and is known as wild celery in English. It is known as ajmod in Hindi (Hindi: अजमोद) and Urdu (Urdu: ‫اجمو‬د), both derived from Sanskrit ajamoda (Sanskrit: अजमोद) or ajamodika (Sanskrit: अजमोदिका), from which the name for ajwain is also derived. It is also known as kant-balu in Burmese, and phak chi lom in Thai (Thai: ผักชีล้อม), although this name may also refer to a variety of celery.”

mjskit says:

I knew what 3 of these spices were so thanks so much for the beautiful pictures and explanation of texture, taste and aroma! The spice mix sounds extremely aromatic and your pictures are lovely!

Athena says:

I always learn something when I come to your blog. Beautiful shots and styling of the spices!

Lakshmi says:

All time favourite!

Sarah says:

I am into mixing my own spices lately and really like this combination. Thanks for the post and the lovely pictures. I added you to my blogroll because you have such a lovely blog. Kudos