Hakka Masala Ramen

One of my favorite commercial blends is a Northern Indian favorite called Kitchen King. Compared to Southern Indian blends, this blend of spices is relatively mild, but has a great balance of sweet and savory flavors, and is richly fragrant and really comforting.

Serves 2

  • 2 teaspoons Kitchen King masala
  • 8 cups water
  • 2 bundles fresh ramen noodles
  • 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons butter
  • 4 teaspoons white miso

Bring water to a boil in a 4-quart saucepan. While waiting, gently toast the masala on low heat in a 6-inch sauté pan. After 30 seconds, the masala will be fragrant, but will not have browned at all. Cut the heat, and add a teaspoon of butter to stop cooking. Once the water is boiling, add the ramen. Cook for about 45 seconds. Add ½ cup of pasta water to the sauté pan. Transfer ramen to the pan. Turn the heat to medium. Add the miso and remaining butter. Stir as it comes to a simmer. Simmer for 30 seconds or as long as it takes to melt the miso in.

King Kitchen Masala

Yields: ½ cup ground masala

  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 1 tablespoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon caraway seeds
  • 1 teaspoon ground Kashmiri chili, more to taste
  • 1 tablespoon fenugreek seeds
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon cubeb peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon ginger powder
  • 1 small piece dry galangal (Thai ginger) chopped
  • 8 whole cloves
  • 1 tablespoon yellow mustard seeds
  • 6 green cardamom pods
  • 3 black cardamom pods
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
  • 2 sticks cinnamon
  • 1 star anise
  • ½ nutmeg berry seed
  • 2 small pieces mace

Mix the whole spices in batches. As long as they are whole, dry, and stored airtight, they will last indefinitely. Toast and grind for each use. To toast, put a little water in a dry pan over medium heat. When the water boils out, remove from heat, and add the spices. Stir for 30 seconds to a minute, or until they are richly fragrant. For best results, grind with mortar and pestle or a coffee mill.