A new feature!

Hello fellow TWD bakers! I will be writing/hosting/moderating a new column with a focus on that kitchen tool or ingredient that is always in use in your kitchen. Or the one that you have and you don’t know how to use it or have recipes to use it in.  Or the one that you only ever use for one thing and you’re looking to broaden your horizions.  Here’s a chance to inform and learn.

For this first installment, I’m going with an ingredient.  I have recently discovered Garam Masala.  It’s an ingredient usually found in Indian cooking.  There are, apparently, many styles of this spice blend.  Mine is from a great local store called The Spice House.  It is described as “A northern Indian Punjabi style of seasoning, this mix varies from standard curry in that it is a tripart base of cardamom, coriander, and black pepper with the kalonji seed instead of cumin.”  (I admit to not knowing what a kalonji see is.)

I have only recently taken a liking to Indian food.  I used to think that Indian food was always spicy.  I have no idea where that impression came from, but there it was.  But the husband loves it, so we’ve started eating it slightly more often.  While going through my old magazines, I found a past issue of Cook’s Illustrated with a recipe for Chicken Tikka Masala.  It looked interesting.  Then I saw it on America’s Test Kitchen.  I found this recipe and thought to give it a try.  On a side note – although it is thought to be an Indian dish, the UK claims it as a national dish and has said that it originated there.  Hmmm.

It is a very easy, very good meal to prepare.  The chicken without the tomato based sauce is excellent.  Together, they are amazing.  It has a slight bite which is tempered by a the creaminess of the yogurt and, well, cream.

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So far, this is the only recipe that I use the garam masala in.  And while this is fabulous and I could eat it at least once a week, I’m on the prowl for more.  If you’ve never used it, I would definitely give it a try.  If you have used it in other things, were they enjoyed?  Any ideas?

I’ll be posting on the first and third Thursdays of the month. If you have a tool or ingredient that you’d like to share, please let me know! Send any ideas to me at iahawk89@comcast.net. *****Edited to add – looks like I got my dates wrong.  I’ll be posting on the second and fourth Thursdays of the month.  ;-)

15 thoughts on “A new feature!

  1. Garam Masala is GREAT in dahl. Put some olive oil in a pot, on medium heat, and let it heat up. Add garam masala (I usually go about 1/2 tsp or so), 1 tsp coriander, 1/2 tsp cumin, salt and pepper, and let them all fry for a minute or two. Add diced onions; cook until translucent.

    Add some chopped tomatoes, diced spinach, zucchini, etc., to the onion/spice mixture; stir occasionally until veggies are soft, about 5 minutes at most. Add one cup of dried red lentils to mixture and stir well. Add two cups of water (or a mixture of stock and water if you prefer, but water will be fine), and add a good spoonful of curry paste (don’t use the powder, use the paste). Stir well, and let cook over medium heat until lentils are soft, about 20 minutes. Watch carefully, as the lentils will absorb that water like crazy. Add more water if the lentils aren’t cooked to your liking; I like mine really broken down.

    Serve over rice with some yogurt if desired, and accompanied by naan, pita bread, etc.

    Garam masala can have a really strong flavour, so I would err on the side of caution at first. Don’t skip the curry paste; if you don’t like it spicy, buy the mild kind. I buy the hot stuff. ;)

  2. SO excited to see this post. I’ve wanted to try garam masala for a looong time and this is just the push I needed :-) Rock on!

  3. This is a great addition to your blog. (confession)… I am too heavy (fat) to participate in making all your stuff (actually, I could make it, but I have zero self control). But I have lurked and drooled and dreamed from afar.

    I do like the new ideas… makes me think you are doing this just for me

    Dave

  4. Switch your rice to bastmati rice with Indian food, it makes a huge enjoyable difference :)

    I eat Indian food a lot and have started to make my own garam masala, I do use cumin in it, I think its the main flavor in garam masala, I also use kalonji, which is just another word for nigella seeds!

  5. I love the suggestion above. Basmati rice does have a great flavor. I’ve only made Indian food a couple of times and I think that’s what the recipe called for.

    Great post and look forward to the new article.

  6. Your article is great! I love garam masala and Indian food but don’t make it enough since hubby is not a fan. Seeing this makes me want to get out some spices and get cooking.

    A favorite recipe using this spice blend is basic roasted sweet potato chunks seasoned with garam masala (and salt and pepper to taste) — yum! Great side dish to any Indian inspired meal.

  7. This is what I would call “Indian Lite” but it is super easy. Saute a small onion and a couple of cloves of garlic in oil until translucent. Add 1.25 cups vegetable stock, about 6-8 oz. of diced tomatoes, 1 tbsp. garam masala, a bay leaf, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Add 1.5 cups of rice (basmati or jasmine works well, too) and 1 can of chickpeas. Return to boil. Cover and reduce heat. Cook for about 20 minutes. Very easy one pot weekday dish.

  8. i love, love, love GM. besides chicken tikka, another dish i make often is chana masala (chickpeas). i also like making salad dressing with a little lemon juice, olive oil, s&p, drop of honey, GM and ground corriander….really good on spinach salads!

  9. How exciting Julie! This is such a great idea – and I definitely learned something new today.

    I’ve never cooked any kind of Indian cuisine before, although from reading the previous comments it sounds like it’s quite popular.

    Can’t wait to see what you come up with next!

  10. I’m loving these ideas for garam masala! Thank you all for the great recipe ideas! Remember, if you have an idea, be sure to e-mail me so we can get it in a post.

  11. One more thing I love garam masala for: roasted chickpeas. Drain a can of chickpeas (or soak and cook some), and then add a glug of olive oil, maybe 2-3 tsps maybe. Stir to coat, and then add a tsp of garam masala, 1 tsp of cumin, 1-2 tsp of salt, and chili powder to taste. Stir well to make sure all the chickpeas are coated in spices.

    Roast them on a parchment lined cookie sheet at 400 for about 40-60 minutes, making sure to give them a stir after about 20 minutes or so. To test for doneness, eat one – should be good and crunchy.

    Chickpeas are high in protein, so it’s a pretty healthy snack, I like to think. And it totally satisfies my craving for salty, crunchy things.

  12. I use garam masala for lentil soup — I make the soup with onions, carrots, celery, and lentils, season with bay leaves, salt & pepper, thyme, cumin, and garam masala. Sort of an east-meets-west combo.

    If you want to make your own garam masala, there are recipes in several of Madhur Jaffrey’s books, including “An Introduction to Indian Cooking.”

    Anyone have any recommendations for other good Indian cookbooks? Or blogs, or Web sites?

  13. Thanks for the nice article! I’ve only done the tiniest bit of Indian cooking and all I have is plain old “curry powder” from the grocery store. I’d love to get into it more and try new ingredients.

  14. Chicken tikka masala was recently voted the UK’s favorite dish, but apparently it’s something the Indian restaurants
    in the UK have invented, rather than an authentically Indian dish.

    I would recommend any of Madhur Jaffrey’s books on Indian Cooking for recipes that use garam masala, as well as recipes for making your own garam masala spice blend.

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