Garam Masala: Making Beans UnBoring for 800 Years!

Photo by: FotoosVanRobin

I finally realized why my kitchen-made Indian food was tiers below the smooth grub at Bombay Gaylord: the absence of Garam Masala. It didn’t matter if I used gallons of coconut milk or bags of curry powder, without the hard-to-find GM spice mix, you might as well forget it. Garam Masala has 5 A’s!, and is a blend of cumin, coriander, cinnamon, cardamom, black pepper, and sometimes nutmeg. It’s been used since the 13th century in North Indian cuisine. The mix includes spices that help boost brain function and decrease inflammation (cinnamon), control blood sugars (cinnamon & coriander), fight cancer and ease digestion (cumin), and lower cholesterol (coriander). And it makes beans and other less appealing veggies taste exotic and exquisite.

I had a touch of trouble finding Garam Masala, but finally had success at my local food co-op (because eventhough you can make it from scratch, I wasn’t about to sacrifice a bike ride or a shower to do so), and had a chance to put it to the test.

We had just walked in the door from vacation and were in desperate need of groceries. Do you have the energy to zoom to the grocery store after stepping off an airplane? Me either. So I scrounged through the cupboards, freezer, and fridge, and salvaged portions of our garden produce that hadn’t been tasted by the squirrels, and ended up with a total hit of a dinner:

No-Food-in-the-House Curry
Serves 6

2 tsp olive oil
1 on-the-verge onion, shady spots removed, remainder diced
2 tsp crushed garlic (in the squeeze tube)
1 tsp curry powder
3 tsp garam masala
1 tsp sea salt
2 cups dried red lentils (could be any color lentil)
3 cups filtered water
4 ripe tomatoes (actually used the untouched portions of 6)
7 stalks organic celery (who says organic goes bad fast in the fridge?)
1 cup frozen organic chopped spinach
1/2 can (about 7 oz) light coconut milk
4 cups cooked brown rice (cooked while veggies & lentils cooked)

In a large pot, sauté onion, garlic, spices, and salt in olive oil until onion starts to brown, about 3 minutes.

Add remaining ingredients (minus the rice) and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer, cover, and cook until lentils and veggies are tender, about 20 minutes.

Serve over brown rice.

What the critics said:
Bitchin’ Dietitian: “Hot Damn!!”
Bitchin’ Husband: “Wow. There’s a hot kick, and I think this is the best thing you’ve ever made.”
5-Year-Old: “I love it. Especially the rice.”
3-Year-Old: “I’m eating it, aren’t I? But now my tummy’s full.”
1-Year-Old: “…..” (Silence as he scarfed down an entire bowl.)

A healthy hit!! Your best “No-Food-in-the-House” meals?

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5 Responses to Garam Masala: Making Beans UnBoring for 800 Years!

  1. Joanne Irwin says:

    Can’t wait to try. Sounds yummy. Have garam masala sitting in the pantry, and just waiting to be opened!!

  2. Joanne Irwin says:

    Just made the Lentil Dish with Garam Masala for my hubby and my son who is visiting. Everyone loved it. I had two big bowls. The taste is fantastic. A winner! And we know how great lentils are for reducing risk of breast cancer. Go beans!!!!

  3. Sara James says:

    I couldn’t cook without Garam Masala – love it in bean soups. I get it at my local Asian grocer which as a large Indian section. It is very inexpensive there.

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