Posted by Lee at 09/10/08 05:19:45I googled the contents and found the following for Masala -cumin, nutmeg, cinnamon, black pepper, chili powder, mace, cardamom, fennel, fenugreek, and coriander. Looks okay, was just wondering if they use any preservatives for spices. Like that red insect they use for colouring. How would you know, do they have to disclose that?
Posted by condekedar at 09/10/08 07:58:58Lee, I have NEVER seen or heard of Indian spices containing meat/insects/weird additives. Sometimes, these days, you see in mainstream grocery stores bottled liquid curry mixes that occasionally contain milk/butter. But with fresh curry/masala powders, I have never seen any animal products as any type of ingredient. (I would know---my parents were from India, my mom is vegetarian, and I'm vegan)
Indians are extremely careful and conscientious about not cross-contaminating veg products with non-veg ingredients, mostly because there are so many vegetarians in India and "purity" concerns are high, as they're connected to the Brahminical faiths of Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. There are strict standards for this in India and most of these plants that manufacture spice mixes for export, are wholly vegetarian.
And, in general, Indian spices are vegan, even if they're used in non-veg dishes. If they contained insect bits, it would cause an epic scandal in India. Nothing's a given in India, given the corruption there, but when an Indian says something is vegetarian, it's vegetarian. They're very respectful of people's dietary choices and don't mess around with food.
Unlike East and Southeast Asia, there is no tradition in India of using things like fish sauce/shrimp paste in curries and dishes.
That said, always read the ingredients, especially if you're vegan. I don't like these store-shelf curry mixes, as I find the tastes a bit too industrial. Sometimes you do see other weird chemical preservatives, which aren't appealing either.
I would suggest going to Indian grocery stores and seeing if they have fresh-made curry/masala mixes available, rather than pre-packaged imports. Or, better yet, look up some recipes and try making the mixes yourself! The main ingredients tend to be mustard seed, coriander, fennel, asafetida, tamarind, cumin, green/red chili and some others. Pretty standard stuff you can get fresh at any grocery store these days.