Of all the flavours that stick in my head from India, garam masala is by far the most evocative. Much to my surprise while I was there I found Indian food to be fragrant, and well flavoured, rather than just spicy and discovered that in many places they use garam masala like we use salt and pepper, or brown sauce, to flavour and liven up a diverse range of dishes. This was most noticeable when, after days of little but rice and lentils I thought I would treat myself to some western food and ordered some chips (something of a weakness of mine) and even those came with a good spoonful of garam masala on top; there was no escaping it.
Back home though I came to appreciate the spice’s subtlety a bit more. Treated with a slightly more gentle hand than my french-fry-maker, the careful balance of flavours can enhance dishes without overpowering them; in the right concentration it can leave you wondering what, exactly the secret ingredient is, and never guessing for a moment it’s something most people consign to curries and nothing else.
The blend of spices on the back of my garam masala bottle reads cumin, coriander, chilli, turmeric, fennel seed, dill, clove, but each blend is unique, and everyone has their own recipe. Of course the flavours are much more potent if you toast your fresh spices and grind them together, but if you can’t be bothered, then the effects are just as startling with six-month old, shop-bought stuff.
Garam masala oatmeal raisin cookies
Adapted slightly from npr
Once again these were slightly more scone-like than I would have liked. Make sure you flatten your dough balls a little before baking them so get more cookie-like results.
70g (3/4 cup) gluten-free oats (a bit of a misnomer, of course, but that’s a whole post in itself)
120g (3/4 cup) gluten-free flour blend
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
3/4 teaspoon garam masala
1/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
62g (1/2 stick) butter, softened slightly
60g (scant 1/2 cup) sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
85g (1/2 cup) raisins
1. Preheat the oven to 180 C and line a baking sheet with baking parchment.
2. In a medium bowl stir together the oats, gf flour, xanthan gum, garam masala, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder and salt.
3. In a large bowl beat together the butter and sugar until pale and creamy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then add the vanilla. Slowly stir in the flour mixture, and finally add the raisins.
4. Scoop tablespoon-sized balls of the dough onto the baking sheet, leaving at least an inch between them, and flatten them slightly. Bake in the oven for 12-14 minutes, or until going brown on top.
5. Serve with a warming cup of chai.
Makes about 12. They last a few days in an airtight tin at room temperature.