Call it quarantine mentality, but lately, I have been into making pastes and flavor-enhancers and storing them in the fridge or freezer and then having the luxury of quick meal prep when I lose track of time and need to get dinner done fast. So you can look forward to some future posts of things like pesto and vegetable bouillon paste and fun salad dressings and chili garlic oil, etc. Lucky you!
But today I’ve made my version of a masala paste which not only makes a great tikka masala on the fly, but also can lend tons of flavor to soups and stews, noodle dishes, salad dressings, and even stir-frys. Rescue some tired leftovers by stirring it in with a bit of broth or even coconut milk. I’ve recently Rubbed it onto fish and roasted in the oven along with some veggies and had a super-quick dinner! Have fun with it and make it your own!
Now, I certainly don’t claim this masala paste as anything authentic or traditional. Yes, it has many of the traditional spices used in tikka masala, but just as every grandma has their version of red sauce, so, I imagine, does every home have their version of this Indian spice combination.
This is my special recipe. I hope you will try it out and have it ready for that spicy, saucy tikka masala you are about to create. I’ll be posting a Vegetable Tikka Masala next, so get this baby ready to go!
Homemade Masala Paste
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil or any neutral oil you like
- 2 teaspoons black mustard seeds
- 2 teaspoons black peppercorns
- 1½ tablespoons cumin seed
- 1½ tablespoons coriander seed
- 6 dried arbol chiles optional
- 6 pods green cardamom
- 1 tablespoon garam masala
- 2 teaspoons ground turmeric
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 5 cloves garlic crushed
- 2 inches fresh ginger roughly chopped
- 1/2 cup chopped red onion
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons dry fenugreek leaves (kasoori methi) optional (see notes for substitution)
- Heat the oil in a skillet until hot and then add all the spices (Mustard seeds through cardamom) and stir and cook until aromatic (1 min).
- Add the garam masala, turmeric and cinnamon and stir and cook 30 seconds.
- Add the garlic and ginger and stir in well. Then add red onion and tomato paste and stir in well. Cook until onion has softened.
- Transfer all ingredients from the skillet to a small food processor. Add the fenugreek leaves, if using, and process to a paste. You may need to add a small amount of water to keep things moving.
- Transfer to a jar (or two), cover with a bit of oil and label and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks or freeze for up to 6 months.
- Use a few tablespoons at a time to make any tikka masala or Indian "curry" type dishes. Can be used as a marinade/paste rub for meat, fish or tofu, or even just added to a simple vegetarian stew to add warming flavors.