India Table.

A few months ago, my friend’s mom came up from San Diego to give all of us a mini-cooking class. On the docket were: garam masala chicken, masaledar sem (spicy green beans), masoor dhal, and raita.

After a few stabs at simple Indian recipes, I learned that a lot of the techniques and spice profiles were similar to what I was used to with Arabic cooking. And after this lesson, I realized that some of my favorite dishes weren’t so difficult after all and made it a point to make them in the future. While I have an insane amount of uncommon spices, whole cardamom pods and garam masala aren’t things usually found in Arabic cuisine, and thus, they’re not found in my pantry. For months I avoided going out to buy the missing ingredients.

But today I finally mustered up the drive to head the 2 whole blocks to the Arabic/Hispanic/Indian grocer to buy the spices I’d been missing. And good thing I did. I was rewarded with a delectable Monday night dinner (and enough leftovers to make the people at work jealous).

Pictures of Indian food never do the subject justice. Honestly, how are you supposed to make a pile of goop (usually) look delicious? Sigh.

Garam Masala Chicken

3 lbs chicken boneless, skinless thighs, cut into bite-size pieces

5 tbsp vegetable oil

2 onions, minced

6 medium tomatoes, chopped (or 1 16 oz. can chopped tomatoes)

6 cloves garlic, minced

1″ ginger, minced

1/4 tsp whole cumin

6 pods cardamom

1″ stick cinnamon

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

2 bay leaves

1/2 tsp whole pepper corns

1/4 tsp garam masala

1 1/2 tsp salt, more to taste

Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add cumin, cinnamon, cardamom, bay leaves, and pepper corn. Stir briefly until fragrant. Add onions, ginger, and garlic and cook until onions turn slightly brown. Add cayenne pepper, salt, tomatoes and chicken. Stir to mix then bring to a boil. Cover and simmer on low heat , stirring occasionally, for 25 minutes or until the chicken is tender.

Remove cover and turn heat up to medium. Add garam masala and cook an additional 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, to reduce the liquid and create a thick sauce.

Masaledar Sem (Spicy Green Beans)

2 lbs green beans, cut and trimmed

1″ ginger

10 cloves garlic

5 tbsp vegetable oil

1 cup water

2 tsp whole cumin

1 dried red chili, crushed

2 tsp coriander powder

2 medium tomatoes, chopped

1 1/2 tsp salt, more to taste

3 tbsp lemon juice

1 tsp roasted cumin powder

ground black pepper

Blend ginger, garlic and 1/2 cup water in food processor to form a paste. Heat oil in a wide saucepan over medium heat. Add cumin, stir for 5 seconds, then add red chili. Add ginger-garlic paste and cook for a minute. Mix in coriander, then tomatoes, and cook for 2 minutes. Add beans, salt, and remaining water and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook until beans are tender, approx. 8-10 minutes. Remove cover then add lemon juice, roasted cumin powder, and generous amount of black pepper. Raise heat to boil away liquids, stirring gently.


1 large cucumber, peeled and diced

1/2 red onion, finely chopped

2 cups yogurt

1 small handful mint leaves

1 green chili, finely chopped (optional)



pinch of sugar

Mix all ingredients and adjust salt to taste. If it’s too thick, you can add a splash of milk.


2 thoughts on “India Table.

  1. Megan, you certainly mastered these recipes! Fantastic! Looks beautiful and tastes good too!
    Please feel free to stop in for a mini session with me. I am rediscovering regional Indian vegetarian dishes and they are so good!

    Susan (jason’s mom)

    • Thanks, Susan! And thank you thank you thank you for coming up and teaching us 🙂 I might take you up on your offer the next time I’m home visiting my parents (in Rancho Penasquitos).

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