Garam masala is a blend of ground spices used in Indian cooking. Mixtures vary depending on the locale and type of dish in which they are used, but traditional mixes usually include cinnamon, roasted cumin, cloves, nutmeg, and green cardamom seeds or black cardamom pods. Commercial mixtures may contain less expensive spices such as dried red chile peppers, dried garlic, ginger powder, sesame, mustard seeds, turmeric, coriander, bay leaves, cumin, and fennel.
Dal Makhani (Indian Lentils and Beans)
Spice Mixture (Garam Masala)
- 2 tablespoons ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger, or 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
- 1 tablespoon turmeric
- 1 to 2 teaspoons curry powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds (optional)
- 1 teaspoon commercial garam masala (optional)
Beans and lentils
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 large onions chopped
- 1 to 4 large cloves garlic crushed
- 1 jalapeño pepper, minced (optional)
- 6 cups water (more if necessary)
- 2 cups lentils sorted and rinsed
- 1 tablespoon vegetable or chicken bouillon paste
- 1½ cups cooked kidney beans, or one (15-ounce) can drained and rinsed
- 1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
- ½ to 1 cup cream or half-and-half for finishing (optional)
- chopped fresh cilantro for garnish
- In a large stewpot, heat the oil on medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, and jalapeño pepper; sauté until wilted.
- Combine all of the spice ingredients in a small bowl, then add the mixture to the pan and stir to combine; sauté until it becomes fragrant. (Feel free to experiment with the spices, and don’t hesitate to make the dish anyway if you are missing one or two of those suggested. Try something else instead!)
- Add the water, lentils, and bouillon paste, and cook for 20 minutes. Add the kidney beans and tomato paste and simmer for another 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, adding more water if necessary so that the beans do not stick. Add salt to taste.
- For nonvegans, stir in 1 to 2 tablespoons of cream or half-and-half per serving, if desired, which makes this dish more like the traditional version. (If you’re using half-and-half, don’t boil the finished soup—it will break and look less than lovely.) Garnish with the chopped cilantro.