Cinnamon, cloves, coriander, cardamom…black pepper? Cumin?
Yup, and its called Garam Masala. The particular blend that I bought is from The Spice Hunter (www.spicehunter.com) and is salt-free (Just a FYI, it didn’t really matter to me). You can find recipes all over the ‘Net to make your own from whole spices that you toast and grind yourself but this was perfect for me. What drew me to this blend of spices? The fact that I hadn’t ever used it, wanted something different to add to my spice cupboard and finally, that I have never met an Indian dish I didn’t like so, I reasoned to myself, I will enjoy this too. Perfectly reasonable.
Heres the hitch: I didn’t read the ingredients list. I had no idea that Garam Masala wasn’t just a specific name for a curry blend; honestly what I was expecting. I knew there was something different about it, I just had no idea what.
Last night I was planning an experiment for dinner. One of my joys of being single is the creativity allowed to me. I don’t have to think about what anyone else would eat, just me. My creation? I really don’t know how to describe it. Originally, I wanted to make Dutch Meatballs but I didn’t have half of the ingredients. Still inspired by the cooking technique of creating meatballs, browning in butter and then adding broth and simmering to be served with mash and veg and half wanting to do a twist on spaghetti and meatballs so I could use the other half of the spaghetti squash I had on Saturday, I got creative. No chef would have ever tried this blend but it just hit my little spot this evening.
1lb ground beef, straight from fridge
1T Garam Masala blend
¾ c cooked brown rice
1 med egg
1T Sea Salt (Mine is a VERY coarse salt, add yours to taste)
½ to ¾ c water
3T Evaporated Milk
Garam Masala to taste
I beat the egg and GM together, added the rice and salt, mix then add the ground beef. Mix well but carefully, you don’t want the heat from your hands to melt the fat in the beef. Form into balls. I made 20 small ones but fewer, large ones would be OK too. If the mixture gets warm and melty, put into freezer for a few moments while you are prepping the rest of dinner. In a large fry pan, add a few tablespoons of oil (mine was a blend of EVOO and Canola) and heat to near smoking. Add meatballs leaving enough room to shake and move meatballs about and brown them evenly. Drain any excess oil. Turn heat down to simmer, add water, milk and GM to taste. More water, milk and GM can be added if you want lots of “gravy”. Cover and let simmer for 2-25 minutes, depending on how large your meatballs are and how long they need to cook through. Mine simmered less than 5 minutes.
Remove meatballs from pan, taste sauce/gravy, adjust seasonings to taste and reduce sauce to desired thickness.
In the inspiring recipe, the writer said to serve with mash but since I had the spaghetti squash to finish, I heated that in the micro (a rare thing for me to do, I have this ‘thing’ lately about using a microwave for heating foods), scraped the veggie spaghetti from the rind into my bowl and seasoned with a bit of my trusty Lemon Pepper. Stick with me here. I know there must be some “Ew”s chorusing out there at the idea of lemon with anything milky, meaty and spiced with what most people associate ‘sweet’ spices, but when I tasted the sauce/gravy, something in me said it would be yummy with just a hint of lemon. By this time, as my sauce/gravy had reduced to my liking, I topped the squash with 5 meatballs and poured the sauce on top.
At this point, any worth her salt food blogger would have a photo for you of the completed dish. Actually, s/he would have pictures along the way too but since this is not normally a food blog, I won’t worry that I didn’t take any. At first I didn’t because that would require another set of hands. Those would be taking the pictures while mine were searching the cupboard, whisking the egg and GM, greasy with raw meat, shaking the skillet, turning the meatballs, scraping the squash or pouring the sauce. I think the only one that I would have easily done on my own would have been the decorative shot at the end with an artful piece of parsley on the side of the steaming dish. But I’m out of parsley, so that ones out too. Besides, it all smelled so good that I was hard pressed not to eat it all before I sat at the table.
And that’s a good thing. It would have been peanut butter for me if my creation had been less than edible and unsalvageable which has happened only once (knock on wood) thus far. Even Sisu didn’t like it. An Epic Fail so massive that I cannot, for the life of me, remember what it was or what I did, only that it was a long time at the stove and was so horrid that I’ve blocked it totally from my memory.
Back to my dinner…the squash with the hint of lemon really set off the meat and creamy-ness of the sauce and the spices blended with the brightness of the lemon beautifully. If I were to serve it to company and make it a bit less hodge-podge or clean-the-fridge-like, I would serve over egg noodles or mashed potatoes, make a great deal more gravy and serve with carrots or green beans so that the lemon pepper can make an appearance. So very yummy. Enough so that Thursday will be the command performance of 5 more meatballs (the other 10 are in baggies and in the freezer for later days) and I was already planning cauliflower for a veg, another that is good with lemon pepper and very yum with cream sauce, and mash. The Garam Masala shan’t be forgotten in the cupboard. I can’t wait to play with this amazing blend of spices more in the future.
Coming soon: Detesting Daylight Savings