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Garam Masala: The Magic Ingredient in Indian Vegetarian Recipes

Aloo gobi. Paneer korma. Matar palak. Exotic names that evoke the fragrances and flavors of the culturally diverse Indian subcontinent. Whether you've feasted in India or dined in a fine Indian restaurant, the experience was no doubt memorable. Indian...

Aloo gobi. Paneer korma. Matar palak. Exotic names that evoke the fragrances and flavors of the culturally diverse Indian subcontinent. Whether you've feasted in India or dined in a fine Indian restaurant, the experience was no doubt memorable. Indian cuisine is rich with aromatic and delicious dishes that have evolved over many thousands of years.

The flavors of Indian cuisine are complex, but they're not hard to recreate at home. A number of delicious Indian vegetarian recipes include a special blend of spices called garam masala. A pinch or two is the magic ingredient that imbues authentic Indian flavor to many dishes.

Garam Masala
Garam Masala

Garam Masala

Ingredients:

  • 2 tsp. cardamom pods
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon bark
  • 1 tsp. black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp. cumin seeds
  • ½ tsp. cloves
  • ½ tsp. grated nutmeg
  • ½ tsp. coriander seeds

Directions:

Pulverize ingredients in a coffee mill or spice grinder. Store unrefrigerated in an airtight container and add to recipes as called for. Cooks may adjust the ingredients to suit their personal taste.

There are countless Indian recipes that incorporate garam masala. One of our favorites is mutter paneer masala. Here's how you make it:

Mutter Paneer Masala

Mutter Paneer Masala
Mutter Paneer Masala

Begin by grinding these ingredients to a thick paste:

  • 1 c. chopped yellow onion
  • 3 tbsp. cashew nuts
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 2 tsp. ginger root

Heat clarified butter or vegetable oil in a pan. Add paste and stir while cooking for 2 minutes.

Stir in:

  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. dried fenugreek leaves
  • ½ tsp. cumin seeds
  • ½ tsp. garam masala
  • ½ c. water

Stir in:

  • 2 c. tomato puree
  • 1 c. heavy cream
  • 1 tbsp. Honey
  • 1 c. boiled green peas
  • 3 c. cubed paneer or tofu

Simmer gently for 3 minutes. Serve with warm naan bread.

This tasty recipe can be made 100% vegan by using thick coconut cream in lieu of dairy.

Many of the ingredients used in Indian cuisine may be found in your local market or health food store. Alternately, they may be purchased at Indian Foods Company.