Spice Blends, Some Exotic Aisle: Garam Masala

Spice Blends are great for invigorating the flavor of cooked vegetables. They also make great dry rubs or a tasty addition to breading mix before meat is deep fried in oil.

That being said, the last thing anyone wants is to try something new, be sorely disappointed, and throw the unpalatable food out.

So I’ve added a new series to this blog spotlighting spice blends. If it sounds good, try it; if it doesn’t, at least you know what you’re missing and you’re more than okay with that.

I’m starting with one of my faves: Garam Masala (guhr-ahm mah sah lah)

Garam

Starting with the red bowl and moving to the right, we have Cumin, Black Peppercorns, Cinnamon, Cardamom, and Coriander.

Garam Masala is an Indian spice blend, whose versions vary across the subcontinent. Masala means blend, Garam means heat. But don’t be ‘alarmed’–the heat comes from its whole, unground spice pods, kernels, and sticks being simmered in oil to extract their individual flavors, and combine with the others for maximum impact. When the dish is ready to be served, ground spice is dusted on meat and vegetables.

In its native area, Garam Masala is used in curries.

Other uses: Here is the States, I like Garam Masala and melted butter for a great sugar-free flavor on sweet potatoes. Garam Masala is also tasty on scrambled or fried eggs. It would probably be pretty tasty on french toast as well.

 

Advertisements

Tip My Toque: Old Bay Seasoning

Here on the coast of South Carolina, it’s the time of year when the shrimp boats are blessed by local ministers. Blessings and prayers are made for a safe season and a bountiful catch. There are also many seafood festivals along the coastline for shrimp and blue crab. [Oyster season is traditionally over until next fall.]

Since it is seafood festival season, I was curious about the story behind Old Bay seasoning.

image

Old Bay hails from the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland. It was created by Gustav Brunn, a German immigrant, in the early 1940s. It contains allspice, bay leaf, black pepper, cardamom, celery seed, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, mace, nutmeg, paprika, red pepper, and salt. (In recent years, a lower salt variety has been introduced to the product line.)

Old Bay was named for the Old Bay Line, a steamship that made regular trips between Baltimore and Norfolk in the early 20th century.

It’s trademark packaging is a mustard yellow canister or label, with 2 perpendicular royal blue bands on the left side. In the horizontal blue bar, OLD BAY is written in bold white capital letters. Seventy years later, the packaging has a unmistakable look and a vintage quality. Old Bay had consistent branding, long before everyone was talking about the importance of “branding”. And it continues today.

In the Chesapeake area, Old Bay is offered as a condiment in movie theaters, at delis, sandwich franchises, and many restaurants. In other areas, Old Bay is available at any establishment serving fish and shellfish.

While it was designed for seafood, other uses include seasoning popcorn, cooked eggs, potato chips, tater tots, french fries, corn on the cob, and salads.