Garam Masala March 2015 : New Times Masala

IMG_0994

Place in a large, heavy skillet or cast-iron pan over medium-low heat :

1/2 cup coriander seeds (1.75 oz)

1/2 cup cumin seeds (3 oz)

seeds of 3 tbs green cardamom pods (.5 oz) (about 1 1/2 tbs seeds)

1 tbs vietnamese cinnamon (.25 oz)

1 tbs cloves (.25 oz)

4 tbs black peppercorns (1.75 oz)

Toast spices, tossing gently, until aromas have been released but before coriander and cumin seeds begin to darken. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely.

Leave whole and store in glass to be ground fresh and used in recipes, or grind to a fine powder and store in glass jars or shakers. I usually like to leave about half as a solid spice mix and grind the other half. Remember when using the whole spice mix that it should be shaken before measuring, as it will likely settle and separate in the jar.

Ground masala will remain usable for at least a half of a year, the whole spice mix for a year. If spices are burned or darkened they will deteriorate more rapidly.

Masalas are inherently variable things, dependent on the mood of the cook and the spices available. I encourage you to come up with your own spice mixes, reflecting your own tastes and adding a touch of your own personality as a cook. This one is just a snapshot, a new masala for new times.

IMG_1005_2

Roasted Eggplant With Preserved Lemon

IMG_8041

Take :

2 large unpeeled Italian eggplants (about 2 lbs), sliced in half, stem end trimmed.

Rub eggplants with olive oil and place in a large roasting pan, large enough that the halves do not touch.

Roast @ 425° for 15 minutes, then remove. Puncture each piece with a fork or knife.

Allow to cool.

Seperate the skin from the cooked pulp of the eggplant, reserve the skin for another use.

Mash the eggplant pulp to desired consistency, or puree if need be.

Add :

1/4-1/2 cup of preserved lemon, preferably homemade

*I would add 1/4 cup, combine, taste, and then add more as desired.

1 tsp or more of cumin, preferably freshly toasted and ground.

Salt to taste.

Allow to sit overnight.

Before serving, allow to come to room temperature.

Then add extra olive oil, if desired.

Before serving, garnish with :

Pinches of dried ground sumac or paprika.

Excellent served as part of many meze or appetizer dishes. Perfect with flatbreads of all kinds, but also makes an excellent dip for raw vegetables such as celery, carrot and parsnip. One could of course add many other ingredients to this before overwhelming the taste of the eggplant and preserved lemon. In addition to other spices or herbs, yogurt could be added, especially if one is looking for a creamier dish. I prefer to leave this one chunky, and scoop up big swathes of it in celery boats. Ah, to each their own.

KEY : The key fact to remember with this dish it so serve it at room temperature.