Tag Archives: garam masala

A Winter Weekend in the Cascade Mountains and Chicken Lentil Soup

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Chicken Lentil Soup 

I love living in Southern Oregon.  One of my favorite things to do during the winter months is to visit the Cascade Mountains.  This year our family and friends stayed in some cabins up at Hyatt Lake over the weekend.  Hyatt Lake is about an hour drive from our home but in snowy weather, it may take twice as long.  There was at least 3 feet of fluffy snow on the ground and the temperature was a bone chilling 16 degrees.   The only way we could get up to our cabins was with four wheel drive pickup trucks for there was nearly 10 miles of narrow snow packed roads.

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A view up towards the summit.

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Along the edge of Hyatt Lake.  The lake was frozen over.  During the summer months, Hyatt Lake is known for its wonderful trout fishing and camping.

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A view across the lake.  The ice on the lake was only a few inches thick and covered with snow.  We would not dare walk out onto the lake for it was too risky and dangerous.

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Sunset in the forest.  It was eerily quiet.  The only noise that we heard was the snow dropping off the branches of the trees.  There were no birds, squirrels or any signs of wildlife. The birds either migrated south or are spending the winter in the valley below. Other animals such as black bear, skunks and squirrels are hibernating in their dens.  Deer, cougars and elk generally find their way down to the warmer lower elevations during the cold winter months.

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A view from the top of the mountain.  You can see the ski resort at Mount Ashland in the background.

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Snow covered Chinquapin Mountain. In late spring, when the snow has melted, Chinquapin Mountain is one of my favorite places to hunt for Morel mushrooms.  When I get some mushrooms this year, I’ll be sure to post some delicious Morel mushroom recipes.

After spending a cold day in the snow, my Chicken Lentil Soup is a perfect way to warm up. My Chicken Lentil Soup is made with locally grown organic green Laird Lentils, carrots, onions, celery, chunks of tender chicken and flavored with my homemade Garam Masala Spice Blend.  It’s easy to make, tastes delicious, and as an added bonus, it’s really good for you too!  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Laird lentils (washed and picked over)
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 1/2 cup onion (chopped)
  • 1/2 cup carrots (chopped)
  • 1/2 cup celery (chopped)
  • 1/2 cup red bell pepper (chopped)
  • 1 Tbs Garam Masala spice blend
  • 1 12 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • 1/2 pound cooked chicken (chopped)
  • salt and pepper to taste

In a large sauce pan with a lid, saute onion, carrots, celery and red bell pepper in olive oil.  Cook until onions are translucent and tender.  Add lentils, Garam Masala, tomatoes, garlic and chicken stock.  Cook on low heat until lentils are tender, about 30-40 minutes.  Add cooked chicken about 10 minutes before lentils are done.  Taste and correct your seasonings.  Serve hot with crusty bread.  Makes about 4 servings.

*Note:  I used precooked chicken that I found in the deli section of my favorite store.  I added the chicken towards the end of the cooking process because I wanted the chicken to stay tender.

Easy Garam Masala

Garam Masala

Garam Masala is one of my favorite spice blends that I have in my pantry.  It is a deliciously aromatic mixture of cumin, coriander, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, pepper and nutmeg that brings an exotic taste to many dishes.  Garam Masala is an essential ingredient in traditional Indian cooking.  I learned about Garam Masala only a couple of years ago and I have been a complete fan ever since.  Garam Masala is generally made with whole spices, toasted and ground but, this recipe is a good substitute if you are in a pinch.  It’s easy to make and can be made with ingredients you already have on hand.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

Mix all ingredients in a small bowl.  Transfer to an air tight container.  Makes about 1/4 cup.

Creamy Red Lentil Soup with Garam Masala

Creamy Red Lentil Soup with Garam Masala

Bruce was out of town for the past few days.  I hate to say this out loud but…  When he is away from home, I get to make what I want to have for dinner without any negotiating or meeting in the middle.  Today, I was in the mood for a Creamy Red Lentil Soup with Garam Masala.  Garam Masala is an exotic spice blend that is of North Indian origin.  It has ingredients such as cumin, cinnamon, black pepper, cloves, cardamom and coriander.   It’s one amazingly fragrant and versatile spice blend.

My Red Lentil Soup with Garam Masala is vegan, easy, and most of all, delicious!  And as for Bruce, I love him so much that I made sure that I saved him a big healthy bowl of Creamy Red Lentil Soup to eat when he gets back :).  Enjoy!  Tessa

 Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup split red lentils (picked over and rinsed well)
  • 2 cups vegetable stock (more if needed)
  • 1/2 cup carrots (diced)
  • 1/2 cup onion (diced)
  • 1/2 cup celery (diced)
  • 1/2 cup red bell pepper (diced)
  • 3 ounces tomato paste (half of a small can)
  • 1 tsp garlic paste
  • 2 tsp garam masala spice (or to taste)
  • seasoning salt to taste
  • garnish with thinly shredded carrots and chopped parsley

Begin by picking over and rinsing red lentils.  Toss lentils and remaining ingredients except for the seasoning salt or garnishes into a pot with a tight fitting lid.  Cook on low, stirring occasionally for about 30-40 minutes or until the lentils are tender.  Taste the soup and add your seasoning salt to taste.  Using an immersion blender, blend soup until creamy.  Ladle into bowls and garnish with thinly shredded carrots and chopped parsley.  Makes 2 to 3 servings.

Note:  You can find garam masala at most major grocery stores or online.

Lamb Chickpea Stew

Lamb Chickpea Stew

Sometimes weekends are just as busy as weekdays.  Cleaning the house, yard work, and laundry often consumes my precious time off.  When I have a weekend like that I need to remember that I have a slow cooker tucked away in my cupboard.  Preparing a meal with a slow cooker is simple, saves time and tastes wonderful.  Just toss in the ingredients, cover, turn on low and disappear for about 6-8 hours.  Come back and dish up.  Easy…

My Indian inspired Lamb Chickpea Stew is satisfyingly simple and tastes fabulous.  It has tender bits of lamb, tasty chickpeas, and garam masala in a tomato spinach broth.  Garam masala is a North Indian spice blend made with cumin, black pepper, cinnamon, cloves, coriander and cardamon.  I found my garam masala in the spice section of my favorite grocery store.  Serve the Lamb Chickpea Stew with naan or with a scoop of basmati rice.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 pound lamb stew meat
  • 1 can (15 oz) chickpeas (garbanzo beans) drained
  • 1 can (14 oz) whole tomatoes
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 tsp garlic paste
  • 2 tsp garam masala spice blend
  • 1/2 tsp salt or to taste
  • 2 – 3 cups fresh spinach

Begin by tossing all the ingredients in the slow cooker except the spinach.  Cook on low for about 6-8 hours or until the lamb is tender.  Add the spinach about 5-10 minutes before serving.  Cook until spinach has wilted.  Dish up and serve.  Makes 2 – 3 servings.