Garam Masala

G is for Garam Masala

Garam means hot – not just as in spicy but also in heat producing in the body.

Masala is a mixture of spices.

Every cook has their own recipe.

I like to use:
Black peppercorns,
cumin seeds,
coriander seeds,
bay leaf,
whole red chilies.

Its hard to tell you about quantities but I would say the most of peppercorns, cumin and coriander. Cloves, cardamom and cinnamon have to be used with discretion – as they can be really strong.

In a small saute pan add the spices and toast on medium heat until you begin to smell the spices – about 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer the roasted spices to a coffee/spice grinder and make a powder.
Store this aromatic spice blend in an airtight jar for up to a month.

As for recipes:

I rather that you learn the technique of making the spice mix and how to use it.
Garam Masala should be sprinkled over a dish at the end of the cooking – like a garnish, or when you pour olive oil over a cooked dish. It is predominantly a North Indian spice mix and should add to any of your favorite hearty dishes like curries, etc.

Punjabi Style Rajma (Red Kidney Bean Stew)

2 cups dry Red Kidney Beans
2 cans Red Kidney Beans, rinsed and drained
1 onion, roughly chopped
1 tomato, chopped (can use canned tomatoes)
1 green chili
4 cloves garlic
1 inch piece of ginger
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
½ tsp. turmeric powder
1 tsp. coriander powder
3 tbs. Vegetable Oil
Salt to Taste
1 tsp. Garam Masala

If using the dry beans, soak in cold water overnight. Next day, discard the water and rinse. Cook for about 30 minutes in twice the amount of water as beans. The cooking time will vary according to the beans.

In a blender, mince the onion, tomato, green chili, ginger and garlic with ¼ cup of water to create a thick paste.

In a heavy bottom pan heat the oil and cook the onion-tomato paste for 15 minutes – stirring to make sure it doesn’t stick. The mixture is cooked when the paste is golden brown and the oil starts to separate out. If the mixture begins to stick to the pan – add more oil, which can be discarded after the paste is cooked.

Add the salt, cayenne, turmeric, coriander powder and stir well – cooking for another couple of minutes. Now add 2 cups of water and bring to a boil. Add the cooked beans and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.
Taste and adjust the seasoning.

Sprinkle with the Garam Masala and fresh Cilantro Leaves
Serve hot over rice.

This dish can be stored in the refrigerator for several days. Tastes better the next day.
Substitute almost any beans for the kidney beans – chickpeas, black eye peas, etc.


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