Monday, November 24, 2014

Garam Masala

Homemade Garam masala


Garam: Garam literally means "hot," but refers more to the strength of the spices rather than a spicy capsicum component. While many store-bought garam masala powders are indeed quite spicy the recipe I use is actually not spicy at all.

Masala: Masala literally means "mixture," but it usually is used referring to a mixture of spices which is the base of a curry dish.

This is a simple recipe which uses whole spices which we quickly toast in the pan to maximize their flavors. Many store-bought Garam Masala powders are not toasted to save the manufacturer time and to make the spice blends last longer. Unfortunately, this severely limits its flavor profile.
I would suggest getting a small coffee grinder and reserving it for grinding spices. Fresh ground spices are much more pungent and powerful then pre-ground. Whole spices will keep for a lot longer than ground spices. I grind one recipe of this every 2 months or so.

1 stick cinnamon
10 green cardamom pods
5 bay leaves
1 T black peppercorn
1 t whole cloves
2 T cumin seeds
1 T coriander seeds
1 teas fennel seeds

Bring a small pan to medium heat. I like to add the spices in order from largest to smallest since the largest will need the most time to heat through properly. They are done when they are all pungent and giving off a strong spice smell. Toss them frequently to keep them from burning. After they are done, set them aside to cool or when you blend them they will create a lot of steam and loose some of their flavor (I know from experience).

Grind them into a fine powder and store in a spice jar for 1-2 months for optimal flavor.


Thursday, November 6, 2014

Mint cilantro chutney

Jessie makes this fairly regularly. I always have a few bites and give the rest to her, it's delicious but she likes it more then she likes me ;) which is saying something. This makes a good accompaniment to samosas as well as just eating it plain with Naan. Actually my very favorite application is to make a bagel with a little cream cheese and just put a very thin layer of the chutney on top of the cream cheese. The blend of the fresh herbs and the creamy cheese makes for a flavor explosion. I very briefly thought about going into the flavored cream cheese business based on this combination of flavors.

Another variation of this would be to use about a 1/4 a cup of yogurt to get some of that creaminess.

2 cups cilantro leaves
1 cup mint leaves
1 small yellow onion
1 garlic clove
1/2 teas. cumin
2 green chilies, seeded and minced
1/2 teas. sugar
1 teas. salt
2 Tb.lemon juice

In a blender or cuisinart blend the cilantro, mint, onion, garlic, cumin, chili, sugar, salt, lemon juice until smooth, 2 to 3 minutes.

Refrigerate until ready to serve. The chutney keeps for up to 2-3 days refrigerated in an air tight container.