How long will it take to prepare a meal?
Dinner can be ready in 45 minutes to 1 hour. The preparation and chopping of the vegetables and/or meat will take the most time. Once all ingredients have been added to the pot and are simmering, a stir now and again is all that is required.
What ingredients are needed?
Each label has a grocery list. All Masala Mix’ins require 1 large onion, 6-8 cloves of garlic and 1 or 2 inches of fresh ginger (found in produce section of most groceries)*. Aside from these, you may need 3-4 other items depending on the Mix’in being used. For example, to prepare the Korma, in addition to the 3 items listed above, you will also need 2 lbs of meat, 1 cup of yogurt, 1 cup of chicken broth, and ½ cup of cream.
Note: Fresh is always best, but you may substitute ready to use garlic/ginger paste (~2-3 tablespoons). Jars are available for purchase.
How do I use the Masala Mix’in packs?
Each masala comes with simple, easy to follow step-by-step instructions for preparation.
How many servings will one Masala Mix’in pack serve?
Each prepared packet is good for 6-8 people.
Can the Masala Mix’in be split?
Yes. For the most authentic flavor, using the full pack is best; however, if you’re concerned about the spiciness, splitting the pack will diffuse the heat. Note: be sure to empty and stir the masala before splitting it.
I am a Vegetarian. Can I substitute ingredients?
Yes. Soy dairy products (yogurt, milk/cream), vegetables, tofu or paneer (Indian cheese) may be substituted. Let’s take for example the Chicken Tikka Masala. You may substitute the chicken for extra firm tofu. Use soy yogurt for the marinade. Rather than grill, bake the tofu at 375 degrees for 25 minutes and then add it to the masala sauce (substitute soy milk for the cream). When you have the instructions in front of you, you will be able to see how simple it is to “go vegan/vegetarian." Note: Dhansak and Chole are vegetarian favorites.
I notice that the Korma has some whole spices. How will these figure into the final dish?
Some of the Masala Mix’ins have whole spices included. The Korma has mustard seeds, 2 whole bay leaves, and 2 dried red chilies. Of course, ideal would be to introduce the mustard seeds to the oil first and allow them to pop before adding the other spices. With the Mix’ins the goal is SIMPLICITY and it’s a step that we forego. The mustard seeds have their time in the hot oil, they just have to share space with the rest of the spices as well. The bay leaves and the red chilies will be crushed when you puree the masala with the ginger, garlic and fried onions. They are hardly noticed in the final dish.
What do I serve with the curries?
Rice and flat breads are the staples in India. One or both are necessary to have the full “Indian Meal” experience. You can serve the curries with Basmati rice, naan or chapattis (most groceries now carry them in their bakery/International Foods Section). Raita (yogurt chutney with cucumbers) can serve as a great side dish and will help to diffuse some of the heat. Check out the RECIPES link for other ideas.
What makes Masala Mix’ins different from other spice blends and curry kits?
Masala Mix’ins is different in that each blend is packed to order by hand. Each recipe has been tested to insure that the flavor and integrity of each dish has been maintained. In addition, unlike some curry kits out there, we provide a one-step blend rather than multiple spice bags that are numbered and added at different times. Again, the goal is SIMPLICITY. We do have a few varieties that are 2 step – Biryani, Tikka-Masala, and Kofta; all that can be said to this is that the very nature of these recipes require the 2 fold process.
NOTE: If not used within 4-6 weeks, blends can be easily stored in the freezer to maintain freshness and flavor.
Ginger and Garlic
All the Masala Mix’ins recipes call for crushed ginger and garlic. Since you have the blender/processor out, why not make more and then freeze it? Generally, you are working with equal parts of ginger and garlic. Place the desired proportion of ginger and garlic in a blender with ¼+ cup of water. Blend. Then, spoon paste into an ice cube tray, cover and freeze. Once the cubes are frozen, remove them from the tray (running bottom of tray quickly under water will help cubes to detach). Place cubes in a glass container (preferably). The next time you’re preparing a curry, take out 2-3 cubes (can be defrosted in microwave @15 sec.) and you’re ready to go. There are also many ready made pastes out there for purchase.
Working with Onions
Ever find yourself shedding a few tears while cutting those onions? When you cut into an onion, the onion releases enzymes, creating a chemical reaction which irritates the eyes, causing them to water.
To solve this problem, I used to wear goggles or sunglasses when I had more than 2 on the cutting board. At the very least, this kept my kids entertained. Then a friend shared this great idea that has worked for me: make the first cut and peel the onion under cold water. (Other ideas range from placing the onions in the freezer for 30 minutes to chewing a piece of mint gum?!?)
Slicing onions can be a challenge. First, cut your onion in half, cut off the ends and peel it (preferably under water). Then, lay the flat side down and begin slicing it into thin strips. Try to stay as thin as possible as this will facilitate the caramelizing and browning process for the Masala Mix'ins recipes. All the recipes call for the onions to reach a dark brown.
To reduce the strength of a chili, you may remove the seeds before adding them to your pot. The spicier masala varieties may be split in half. Be sure to fully stir the packet before splitting it.
Adding a cup of canned coconut milk will enhance the flavor of some of the masalas. These varieties include korma, curry, biryani (reduce water content accordingly), and dhansak. Note: the unused coconut milk can be frozen in a baggie for your next curry.
All recipes can be made into vegan / vegetarian fare. Meat Substitutions include:
- Vegetables – fresh or frozen
- Chick peas – canned or fresh cooked
- Kidney beans
- Extra firm tofu – preferably marinated and baked 1st
- Paneer (Indian cheese)
- Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP)
- Vegetable broth substitutes chicken broth
- Soy yogurt / milk to replace dairy products