For supper last night, we tried the Indian Butter Chicken that made Katie Goodman's (of The Good Life Eats) top five favorite dishes list.
In the process, I learned about the basic Indian spice blend Garam Masala. It basically translates an intense, pungent mixture. Not spicy hot; spicy intense. Not fiery like a pepper; but pungent like a dozen silk sarees against a dirt wall. It has a piquancy both delicate and bold. Flavors that would totally interrupt the dish if they didn't fit it like a fine glove.
The spices in this blend can vary from black & white peppercorns, cloves, Malabar leaves, long pepper, cumin, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, star anise, and coriander
depending on the region and the cook.
We bought the McCormick brand, since that's all our little South Carolina grocer had to offer. It was delicious, but I imagine it was also a bit culturally appropriated so as not to shock my all-American tastebuds. I'm sure the most authentic versions can get downright racy.
Find the recipe here.
(I used Canola Oil Butter to keep it less cholesterol-ridden, and Husband gave it the I-can't-tell-you-lightened-it stamp of approval.)