Spices used in the curried chicken casserole
#100daysofcooking, Recipes

Day 20: Warming up to garam masala

Curried Chicken and Tomato Casserole

As a youngster, reading through cookbooks in an earnest attempt to learn my way around a kitchen, I was enchanted by the spice blend called garam masala.

At the time, my spice cupboard was stocked with taco seasoning, salt and maybe oregano. Maybe. The cookbook recipes that included this melange of Indian spices seemed far too exotic to imagine attempting.

Flash-forward a few deca … um, years (and yes, it does go by in a flash) and a tin of Garam Masala from President’s Choice Black Label line caught my eye while grocery shopping.

I have used it once, during one of my Wild Rose D-Tox dietary experimentations, I cooked up a Cracklin’ Cauliflower side dish. But I haven’t touched the tin since, making it a perfect target for tonight’s Kitchen Castoff challenge.

President's Choice Garam Masala used in a curried chicken casserole.
President’s Choice garam masala used in a curried chicken casserole.

First, a few words about garam masala.

Garam means “hot” or “heating” and masala means “spice,” but garam masala is, in fact, neither hot nor spicy. Known for its warming properties, the blend of spices varies between households and regions. Typically it will include cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, cumin, coriander, nutmeg and peppercorns. When it is made, the spices are heated (or toasted), then ground together. It’s often added right at the end of cooking.

The recipe I used was the Curried Chicken and Tomato Casserole, from Anne Lindsay‘s The Lighthearted Cookbook (1988).

In fact, there’s a good chance this was one of those “too exotic to ever try” recipes I pondered so very long ago. Kind of warms the old heart.

Kitchen castoff used

Garam masala

This is how we did it


  • 3 lbs chicken pieces, bone in
  • 2 tbsp butter or margarine
  • 4 medium onions, chopped
  • 3 tbsp fresh gingerroot, minced
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp cumin seeds, ground
  • 2 tbsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp aniseed
  • 1/4 tsp (approx) hot pepper flakes
  • 4 large tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups plain yogurt
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh coriander
Curried chicken and tomato casserole with garam masala
Curried chicken and tomato casserole with garam masala. Served with cauliflower rice and cucumber salad.


Remove skin from the chicken, if you want to trim calories and fat. Heat margarine or butter in a large Dutch oven and brown the chicken pieces a few at a time. When all the chicken is browned, and removed to a plate, add onions and cook for 3 minutes or so, stirring often. Add gingerroot, water, garlic, cumin, coriander, turmeric, aniseed and hot pepper flakes, mix well and simmer for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, simmer for a few more minutes, then stir in the yogurt.

Return the chicken and any juices to the pan, add salt and pepper and more hot pepper flakes if you like. Cover and simmer for 25-35 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.

Just before serving, stir in the garam masala and chopped coriander.

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