Panch Phoron

Nigella seed, a main ingredient in Paanch Phoran

JLPC / Wikimedia Commons

Prep: 4 mins
Cook: 0 mins
Total: 4 mins
Servings: 2 to 3 servings

Panch phoron is a five-seed blend that's popular in Bangladesh and Northern India in which the spices are left whole and either fried in oil or dry roasted to bring out their delicious flavors and aromas. By mixing equal parts of cumin, fennel, nigella, fenugreek, and mustard seeds, you can make panch phoron in a minute and then keep it in an airtight container for a few months, away from light and humidity. This mix is synonymous with wonderful Bengali cooking. "Panch" stands for "five" and "phoron" for "spice" in Bengali—a very straightforward name for this mixture. It's pungent and very bold, but the only true way to understand it is by tasting it, so try this easy recipe and have this versatile spice mix at hand to bring a variety of dishes to life, from legume stews to meats, vegetables, and sauces.

Standard panch phoron has the five seeds, but different regions and different cooks swap regular brown mustard seeds for yellow or add more or less fenugreek depending on taste. However, making it with the five equal parts works wonderfully. Spicy and sweet mustard seeds, nutty and warming cumin, bitter and oniony nigella seeds, tangy and bitter fenugreek, and licorice-forward fennel make a real symphony of flavors that matches well with most foods from the gamiest of meats to the sweetest of potatoes. Paired with cinnamon, asafetida, curry, and turmeric, panch phoron makes delicious curries, chutneys, and all kinds of sweet and savory preparations.

The mixture should never be ground, but simply fried in ghee or cooking oil, or dry roasted on a pan before using it in any recipe. Just be careful when the mix hits the hot oil since mustard seeds are famous for splattering. Although it is easily available online or in Asian supermarkets, making it is so easy and convenient that there's no reason to spend extra to buy the already mixed spice. If this is your first time experimenting with Indian and Asian flavors, be mindful to acquire just a little of each spice, as buying too much might mean it goes to waste. Keep all your seeds and spices in airtight containers, and always buy whole when possible—not just for this recipe—but for all recipes, as whole spices conserve their flavor and freshness for longer. Sprinkle it on naan, tofu, seitan, or tempeh stews. Delicious on rice or potatoes, panch phoron can also be dry roasted and added to brines for quick pickling vegetables.


  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds

  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds

  • 1 tablespoon nigella seeds

  • 1 tablespoon fenugreek seeds

  • 1 tablespoon mustard seeds

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Mix cumin, fennel, nigella, fenugreek, and mustard seeds.

  3. Store mixture in an airtight container.