Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Garam Masala........

Well Sir...back in 1963 or 4...cain't remember eggsactly...the Submarine I was on...the USS Piper- SS 409...stopped in Karachi, Pakistan fer a short port of call. While there...I bravely (and agin the Captain's orders NOT to eat the food) partook of the local cuisine...which is usually some spicey meal made from a variety of meat products. I found the food(s) much too spicey fer my like'n...but I could at least say I had tried it.....

Many years later...after having been a Cop fer many years...I developed an ulcer...a common condition among Law Enforcement personnel (in fact Rolaids & Tums is called "Policeman's Candy"). Because of that condition...I unfortunately had to steer clear of most spicey foods...with Indian (Hindi) and Pakastani foods included cause of the heavy use of the Curry's and other spices.....

A few posts back I had put out a "SMARY" (Send Me Any Recipee's Ya'got") and several good folks responded...one of em bein Mr. Patrick Joubert Conlon...who was a Chef with his own fine Restaurant in San Fran......Now, the recipee he sent me was fer Garam Masala ...a spice combination used primarily in Asian (Hindi) foods.. and I be the furst t'admit that I don't know that much about it so's I "Googled" it (still sounds dirty t'me)...and here's what I found.....

Garam masala (गरम मसाला in Hindi) is a blend of dry-roasted ground spices common in Pakistani/Indian cuisine, whose literal meaning is 'hot spices'. There are many variants: most traditional mixes use just cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg (and/or mace), black pepper and green cardamom seed or black cardamom pods. Many commercial mixtures may include more of other less expensive spices and may contain dried red chili peppers, dried garlic, ginger powder, sesame, mustard seeds, turmeric, coriander, cloves, black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, bay leaves, cumin, nutmeg, and fennel. While commercial garam masala preparations can be bought ready ground, it does not keep well, and soon loses its aroma. Whole spices, which keep fresh much longer, can be ground when needed using a pestle or electric coffee grinder......

So...here be Mr. Patrick's own special blend of Garam Masala and ways too use it....and comin frum Mr. P...that's good nuff fer this Cookie......

Garam masala can be used during cooking, but unlike many spices, it is often added at the end of cooking, so that the full aroma is not lost. Garam masala is not "hot" in the sense that chilis are, but is fairly pungent.

Turmeric 4 tsp

Paprika 2 tsp

Cumin 1 tsp

Coriander 1 tsp

Ground cinnamon 1/4 tsp

Ground cloves 1/4 tsp

Nutmeg 1/4 tsp

Cayenne pepper (or dried red chilies) 1/4 tsp - or less or more to taste.

I use less cayenne or chilies for a vegetable curry and more for meat. This makes enough garam masala for several curries. Mix it together well and use about a level tsp per serving of curry. So if you are going to cook two chicken breasts, use two level tsps of garam masala.

Cut chicken breasts into bite-size cubes. I like to add a potato (also cubed) and peas or okra.Heat some oil or ghee (clarified butter) in a skillet large enough to cook the whole meal.

If you can get mustard seeds, now's the time to add a teaspoon of them to the hot oil. As soon as they start popping, you add 2 tsp of garam masala. Stir till spices are mixed into oil.Add one finely chopped onion, as much garlic as you like (I use about a heaping teaspoon of finely chopped garlic per serving) and half a tsp per serving of finely grated fresh ginger or quarter tsp dried ginger.

As soon as the onions are golden, add the potatoes and chicken.

Dissolve 2 heaping tsps of tomato paste in a cup of water and add to skillet. Simmer with a lid on it for 30 to 40 mins until chicken and potatoes are cooked. You might need to add a bit more water occassionally.

About ten minutes before it's ready add the okra or peas and a 1/4 cup fresh cilantro if you can get it and salt to taste.

Serve with rice preferably basmati rice.You can use any meat - beef, lamb, firm fish, shrimps, turkey or pork. I usually use my left over roast chicken, beef or leg of lamb.

Well Sir...thats it fer t'day...got a whole ton a yard wurk needs bein dun......and by the way...."SMARY".......Cookie.....