Aromas alone can announce the culture and the nationality of a market. Indian markets are suffused strongly with the pungency of curry leaves, cumin and coriander. The magical dry-roasting of these spices creates completely new aromas, such as those found in a vegetarian dal dish cooked with tomato and garnished with black mustard seeds and frying onions. And everywhere in India there is the faint lingering aroma of cardamom and chocolaty cinnamon.
--from Heavenly Fragrance: Cooking With Aromatic Asian Herbs, Fruits, Spices And Seasonings
by Carol Selva Rajah
Almost 40 years ago I made my first trip to India at the age of 21. It was to be the first of many trips during which I gained exposure to a rich and diversified culture that included travels throughout many parts of that vast and ancient land. The rich tapestry of experiences that evolved with each encounter with India impacted my life on many levels one of which was an increased appreciation for the world of aromatic plants and the way they enrich our lives. The wealth of exotic scents that pervaded the environments of the farm in South India where I lived and worked awakened a life long interest in the plants, the environments in which they grew. By good fortune I was eventually able to journey throughout the length and breadth of India to investigate the fascinating world of fragrant botanicals during which I learned how deeply this natural treasures were interwoven into the social, economic and religious lives of the people.
One of the most immediate ways that one is drawn into the everyday life of India is through the scent radiating from spices used in the preparation of a vast array of culinary delights which vary from region to region. These exotic aromas are inescapable as often the spices are heated during the process of cooking. The heat of cooking the spices in oil releases their scent into the surrounding air and acts stimulates the appetite far in advance of eating the delicious dishes themselves. In the warm climates of South India where I spent a good deal of time, the climate is warm and houses are kept open so wherever one went one could smell the delectable perfume of spices combined in numerous ways for savoury snacks, breads, vegetable dishes, deserts etc., among them the ever present sambar, Sambar is a thick, hot, nourishing soup, rich with tart, lemony tamarind, spices, fresh vegetables and buttermilk. There alluring aromas were delightful and comforting and also put one in touch with the spirit of the country-drawing one into an ancient world through the sense of smell.
There is a whole realm of delectable essences that can be created to celebrate the role that foods of the world have contributed to world of natural perfumery. Each country has special aromatics which reflect the cultural history of that land. We are celebrating India with our Sambar Perfume recipe.
Please note that this is a perfume recipe, not a blend to be taken internally.
read more in the Sambar Newsletter