Dinner from spices: Garam Masala, Meatballs & Naan bread

As in life, one thing leads to another, events evolves. From a dining experience at Arab street to researching the food for blogging purpose, discovered a recipe followed by a trip to Phuan Huat to get high protein flour for making Roti Canai test out recipe from I Eat I Shot I Post, to a failed attempt at flipping from a little too much yeast, to impulsive night runs to Mustafa for spice grabbing to grind up a homemade Garam Masala, leading to improvising the failed dough for a garlic Naan bread by which turns out phenomenal, for soaking up all the goodness of my spiced garam masala meatballs. The spicy meatballs contrasted with sweet mangoes dressed up on another evening to be wash down with some beer. Flavor so complex yet complimenting one another. I love the process of coming up with new dishes and recipes, the possibly of excitement and surprise from creating something new. 

Garam masala is almost the secret magic ingredient that imparts most of the flavor to Indian food. A combination of different spices crackling on a dry skillet, dancing with pops releasing all the earthy wondrous aromatic oils, thugging, pounding and grinding of the pestle and mortar, so soothing to the ear. All grounded to a fine complex powder, the smell is as comforting as its flavors.  Everyone makes it a little different and flavors enhance countless dishes. Part of the magic lies in the looseness of the recipe. Garam masala usually is added as a base note to onions at the start for curries or as a marinate or rub to meats. The possibles are endless. Niel Perry uses it to dish up his cod at Sidney restaurant Rockpool, pairing up with Thai sweet basil and coconut milk. Don't restrict yourself to Indian dishes with Garam Masala. You can sprinkle it on fries, enhance a weekend pot roast, give a twist to burger patties and impress your guest on the barbecue party. 

Here's one basic recipe with my adaptations. Once you get a feel for the taste it gives your cooking, experiment and alter it to suit your whims.

Garam Masala Powder 
1 teaspoon Clove
15 Cardamons
10 Black cardamons (leave it out if you can't find it)
2" 8 pieces Cinnamon 
2 teaspoon Pepper corn
1 teaspoon Fennel seed
1 teaspoon Coriander seed
1 teaspoon Cumin seed
8 Bay leaves
1 Nutmeg 
5 dried chillies 
5 Star anise
2 teaspoon turmeric powder (leave out during toast)

First we will be toasting the spices, In a pan with medium heat toast it according to size, because the spices will toast at different rates. Toss a few times, and as soon as they begin to smoke and release their fragrance, set them aside to cool. 

Once the spices have cooled down, you can either grind them in a spice grinder or in a pestle and mortar. Grind all the spices except the turmeric, reserve it for the last minute. Grind until you have a fine powder or until you get the desired graininess you want. I sieved mine out and pound the grainier bits. Now you can add and mix the turmeric powder with all the other spices. Garam Masala can be kept for months.

Making bread is such a wonderful process. watching it rise slowly and developing its yeasty flavors. The options are goes as far as you can image. I had used condense milk for the basic naan bread recipe. making it soft and chewy. Flavor it with onions, garlic, cheese or an italian twist with some fresh herbs and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

Naan Bread
600g plain flour (Hi-gluten, Prima plain flour)
270 mL water
80g/ ¼cup condense milk
15mL Melted butter or Olive oil
1.5 teaspoon salt
1 egg
4g of yeast + 2 tablespoon lukewarm water to activate yeast

In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. let it stand for 10 minute to activate. In a large, make a well with flour, add condense milk, egg, salt and butter or oil, Pour in water and yeast. Pull in the flour with a fork and knead for 10 mins or until smooth. Double the time if kneading by hand. Placed dough in a well oiled bowl, cover with a damp cloth, and set aside to rise until the volume doubles. It is best to leave in the fridge overnight to let its flavor develop and rise it the next day.

Punch down the first rise and portion it into about 50g balls. Oil each ball lightly with oil. Let rise the second time until the volume doubles.

When ready, preheat the grill or pan and roll out one ball into a circle. Lightly oil the grill or pan and cook for 2 to 3 minutes until puffy and golden. Brush uncooked side with butter and turn over. Brush the cooked side with butter and cook another 2 to 4 minutes. Remove from grill or pan and continue the process until all the naan has been prepared.

Note: you can wrap dough and keep in freezer. 

For the meatball:
500 gms minced meat (Half beef, half lamb)
2 tablespoon butter 
1 onion - minced
4 cloves garlic - minced
1/2 tsp fresh ginger - grated
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon turmeric powder 
1 tablespoon garam masala 
2 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
2 tablespoon fresh corriander leaves - finely chopped
1 eggs - beaten 
1 cup - breadcrumbs
Light soy sauce to taste

Mix everything together and form to balls. refrigerate for half an hour before frying till brown. These meatballs are good to eat on its own or you can have variations by adding fresh tomatoes sauce over pasta.

For the curry sauce
1 lange red onion - sliced
4 clove garlic - minced
1 teaspoon chili powder
3 dried chili, whole
2 tablespoon gram masala
1 tablespoon ginger - grated
1 tablespoon turmeric powder
3 tomatoes - sectioned 
Few curry leaves
250 mL coconut milk
500 mL beef stock or water
1 tablespoon Fresh mint and corriander leaves - finely chopped

In a pan, sauté onions till translucent, add garlic, ginger and chill, cook for a few more minutes then add spices. Stirring constantly. Now add the tomatoes and cook till soft and mushy. Pop the meatballs in and pour in stock. Cook on medium heat till sauce is reduced by half before adding the coconut milk. Cook till sauce thickens. Serve with a sprinkle of fresh herbs.
Till next post, SS.

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