Thursday, May 7, 2009

145. Garam Masala (p. 932)

I made this recipe as a component of the Indian Baked Rice that I'll write about next.

Garam masala is a traditional Indian spice mixture that has many variations. The Book's version combines cardamom, cinnamon, cumin seeds, whole cloves, peppercorns and nutmeg.

Normally, I wouldn't go to the trouble of grinding my own spices, mostly because of the hassle. But after I smelled and tasted the results, I can certainly appreciate the difference between freshly ground spices, and a pre-ground spice mix that's been sitting in your cupboard for who knows how long and languishing on a supermarket shelf for who knows how much longer.

The preparation is pretty easy, just put all of the ingredients into a coffee/spice grinder (I had forgotten that I have one of these. Nice!) and whiz it until finely ground. The first ingredient is the cardamom. I'm sure that I've had foods that contain cardamom, but this was my first experience with the whole seeds and the pods that the seeds are packaged in. The first obstacle in dealing with cardamom is the price ... $16 for a jar of seed pods. I'm going to have to find some other cardamom recipes to make good use of leftovers. The next obstacle is getting the seeds out of the pods. Most of the pods were pretty papery and I could just peel them. Others were tougher and I needed to crush them with the side of a chef's knife to get the seeds out. But once that part was done, it was smooth sailing. Next I broke up a cinnamon stick, and added in the cumin seeds, whole cloves, peppercorns and nutmeg, and whizzed it all up.

The garam masala smells sweet, fruity with citrus and cedar notes. You can sense the individual scents of the cinnamon and cloves in waves, but no one single spice dominates. The smell is really out of this world. I was thinking that it would make a great scented candle. Are you listening, Yankee Candle Company?

Like I said, I made this garam masala for the Indian Baked Rice, but I also took The Book's advice to rub some of the leftover spice mix onto some boneless, skinless chicken breasts and threw them on the grill. They were great! A quick and delicious dinner.

Date Cooked: April 26, 2009
Degree of Difficulty: Easy
Rating: B+


Gila said...

I love putting (ground) cardamom in hot cocoa.

Also, you can make a fabulous, dairy-free (I think that's one of your wife's restrictions) rice pudding with cardamom. I use the recipe here: I've been happy with half coconut milk/half soy milk, and I'm someone who is generally suspicious of soy-milk-based creations.

Katie said...

That looks amazing! I love your blog and awhile ago you responded to a comment of mine saying you wished I'd get my food blog up and running. Well, I deleted that food blog, but I did finally start a new one (with my sister). Feel free to check it out!