Arts & CultureLifestyle & Wellness

Warm Notes with Garam Masala


Market List
• 2 cups raw (unsalted, unroasted) nuts (whole almonds, pecans, walnuts, cashews)
• Oil or butter  
• Garam masala
• Sugar  
• Kosher or sea salt
Warm Oven
Preheat your oven to 300°F. Toss 2 cups raw (unsalted and unroasted) nuts, such as whole almonds, pecans, walnuts, and/or cashews with 1 teaspoon oil or melted butter. Once the oven is hot, pour the nuts onto a large sheet pan, in a single layer, and roast for about 20 minutes.
Smelling Good
Remove the nuts from the oven and toss immediately with 1 tablespoon of garam masala, 1 teaspoon sugar, and 1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt.

Cupboard-Inspired by Kristin Hamaker

When I think about what to eat, each week and each day, I take a deep breath, and follow it up with a long pause. First, I become a kind of investigator, and shuffle through the cupboards and static corners of the fridge, with lightness and optimism. What can I resuscitate? What can I transform? What space can I make in my life?
For instance, on a particular weekday afternoon, a bag of naked almonds was poised in the rear of our cupboard. I turned on a low oven, grinned and rubbed them with a bit of olive oil, and roasted them for not very long before the house became aromatic. Even the cats lifted their noses as they traipsed by — very encouraging.
While the almonds transformed in the oven, I took down a book by Madhur Jaffrey, esteemed Indian food writer, and did a bit of reading up on garam masala, that sweet and savory Ayurvedic spice blend. I knew I had some of those spices in the cupboard that were near to retirement: cardamom, clove, cumin seed, and I wanted to find a holy use for them.
Alright then, I would sprinkle the almonds with it, perfect match. Wonderful way to warm and nourish, and a surprise snack for my daughter once off the bus. Jaffrey encouraged me to make my own blend, and offered her own recipe. That’s what I did, grinding slowly and trans-like seeds and spices. All in lightness, with a bit of space returned to me.

While reading up on garam masala, I noticed Madhur Jaffrey suggests that it’s easy and ideal to make your own mix at home. This is her recipe, all to be ground in a spice or coffee grinder or mortar and pestle: 1 tablespoon cardamom seeds, 1 teaspoon whole cloves, 1 teaspoon black peppercorns, 1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds, 1/3 of a nutmeg, a 3-inch cinnamon stick (broken up).

Beyond garam masala, consider other cupboard spices that would enliven roasted nuts, thinking of ground chili, curry powder, or just simply sea salt and black pepper.

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