I am really excited to share with you today’s post by our resident “spice expert” Chef Belinda Smith-Sullivan. Today Chef B is talking about Garam Masala, one of my absolute favorite spices to use in the kitchen. Most notably used in Indian Cuisine you will be pleasantly surprised to see how this wonderful blend of flavors can take your simplest dishes and turn them into something extraordinary. ~ Heather Watkins Jones
My fascination with spices and herbs really took hold during my International Cuisine Lab at Johnson & Wales. Every day brought new regional menus and cultures and with that came the localized spices and herbs that make the food unique. At no other time, during my two years in culinary school, were my taste buds as alive as they were during this particular class. It was like having a party in my mouth – but with a new group of friends to share it with everyday! One of the many spices that intrigued me, and one with which I am constantly experimenting, is garam masala.
Garam masala is a warm and pungent spice mixture with a lot of fragrance. It is most commonly, but not exclusively, used in authentic Northern Indian fare. The composition of garam masala differs from region to region, and there really is no right or wrong blend. A typical blend is made with black peppercorns, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom pods and cumin seeds. Some even add fennel seeds, coriander, star anise, mustard seeds and bay leaves. The ingredients are usually toasted and then ground. You can use it alone or to complement other seasonings.
Use garam masala to enhance the flavor of marinades, salad dressings, sauteed vegetables, soups and stews. I have even used it to season the flour when baking quick breads, and add it to desserts such as pies and cookies. But my favorite application for this fragrant spice is as a dry rub for grilled or baked pork chops, served over a bed of pilau – a rice dish seasoned with garam masala.
Whatever you’re cooking, throw caution to the wind and be whimsical with this magical mix. The sky really is the limit!
Garam Masala Pork ChopsIngredients:
4 – bone-in rib loin pork chops (1-1/2 inch thick)
brine (recipe follows)
2 Tablespoons garam masala (recipe follows)
2 Tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
cilantro, chopped for garnish
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove pork chops from brine and pat dry with a paper towel. Rub generously with the garam masala.
Heat oil in an ovenproof skillet and brown chops on each side. Place skillet in heated oven and cook until instant-read thermometer inserted into centers of chops registers 140-145 degrees; approximately 15-20 minutes. Let chops rest, loosely tented with foil, for 10 minutes. Serve over rice and garnish with cilantro. Arrange pork chops in a glass dish and cover with brine. Cover dish and refrigerate for 12-24 hours.
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups boiling water
2 cups cold water
green peppercorns 1/2 cup salt
In a medium pan, add salt, sugar and boiling water. let sit to allow salt and sugar to dissolve. Add cold water and peppercorns. When cool, pour over the pork chops.Garam Masala (or buy already blended):
1-1/2 Tablespoon cumin seeds
1 Tablespoon black peppercorns
1 cinnamon stick
3/4 teaspoon cloves
3/4 teaspoon crushed bay leaves 4 cardamom pods
Spread all ingredients in a flat pan or baking sheet. Roast in oven at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes. Grind and store in a closed container.