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Hi, I'm Jaden, a professional recipe developer, food columnist and food photographer specializing in fast, fresh and easy recipes for the home cook. Most of my recipes are modern Asian! About meFast, fresh & easy recipes for the home cook.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Green Beans with Garam Masala Butter and Toasted Hazelnuts

I’ve been on an Indian food kick lately, as a friend of mine sent me a goody box full of Indian ingredients to experiment with.

I’m new to the cuisine, intimidated by the long list of unfamiliar spices in recipes. How do I pronounce badi elaichi or hara dhaniya without sounding as if I’ve slammed five shots of tequila for breakfast? If I ask for methi seeds at the market, will the shopkeeper flip out and push the police button hidden under the cash register? Surely, very suspicious.

So, rather than risk sounding stupid, I’ll order Indian food at restaurants, where I can read and understand the English description of the dish and point out my selection for the waiter without oophhinen mhyyy moufff.

But then I’m reminded by my friends that they feel the same way about common ingredients used in East and Southeast Asian cooking, such as nam pla, dong-gu and naganegi. My advice to friends who yearned to learn was to start with just one dry spice blend, such as five spice powder, and sparingly sprinkle on roasted vegetables. It’s inexpensive, simple and a great way to be introduced to Chinese flavors without having to invest in a cupboard full of one-hit wonders.

It was time to follow my own advice and venture into the world of Indian cooking.

My friend Sowjanya suggested I start with garam masala, a dry-spice mixture very popular in Indian cuisine. It’s a warming, aromatic blend of cardamom, cloves, cumin, coriander, cinnamon and black peppercorns, and it goes well with anything, especially vegetables. Garam masala is the type of spice that when you hold the bottle anywhere close to your face, you’ll collapse in ecstasy and moan loudly right there on your kitchen floor. Steamy kitchen, indeed.

Green beans go from everyday to exotic with just a bit of this magic spice blend. Also try garam masala on roasted cauliflower, grilled fish or add to plain yogurt for a wonderful chicken marinade. But only use a bit at a time, as too much of this highly fragrant spice can be overwhelming. Find garam masala at Whole Foods or local shops such as E&S West Indian Market, Ganesh Market & Chaat Cafe and Kiran Indian Grocers in Tampa. You also can buy it online at www.penzeys.com or www.spiceappeal.com.

For this recipe, you can substitute almonds or even pistachios for the hazelnuts. If the nuts are salted, make sure you cut back on the salt in the dish.

Green Beans with Garam Masala Butter and Toasted Hazelnuts

1/4 cup hazelnuts or almonds
1 pound green beans, trimmed
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt (1/2 teaspoon table salt)

Heat medium skillet, and when hot, add nuts. Toast on medium heat, shaking skillet periodically until nuts are golden brown. Be careful not to burn them. Remove nuts immediately from hot skillet, rub between towels to loosen and remove some of the skin. Roughly chop nuts. Set aside.

Boil or steam green beans, covered for 5 minutes or until tender. Drain and quickly rinse with cool water to stop cooking. Return skillet to stove and turn on medium-high heat and add butter. After 1 minute, the butter should foam and brown slightly. Add garam masala and fry just a few seconds until fragrant. Add green beans and salt; toss until beans are evenly coated. Taste and season with additional salt or garam masala if needed. Top with toasted hazelnuts.

Serves 4 as side dish.

***

Photo setup

Those of you interested in how I shot this photo, here is my setup. 2 Lowel EGO lights, a reflector thingy and a tripod (because I’m too clumsy and can’t keep still while taking a photo). Looking back, though, I would have ditched the cardboard reflector thingy and opted for a smaller piece of styrofoam to reflect the light. I didn’t have one handy, was too lazy to go find it, so the photo could have been lit a little better. As you can see, the thingy was too big, bulky and my table was too small to balance everything well. See how it needed more light on the front right?

I could have also arranged the lights differently, but I really only had 60 seconds to take the shot as my guests were waiting for their supper.

Photo Shoot

***

Cooking Light Cookbook

I forgot that I had mentioned a free cookbook giveaway in my last post! EEEEEK!!! Okokokok, next post, I promise!!! Been busy unpacking and sorting.

Or better yet, if you help me do 3 loads of laundry and ironing, I’ll post the cookbook giveaway faster than you can say, “IHATELAUNDRYBECAUSEITSUCKS!”

Damn. I really hate laundry.



46 Responses to “Green Beans with Garam Masala Butter and Toasted Hazelnuts”

  1. Kitt — 4/23/08 @ 2:33 am

    I’m guessing psychic laundry help ain’t no help. Maybe adds a little extra “vibe” to the agitator.

    Garam masala rocks.

    I bet the boys would have fun with papadams.

  2. Sig — 4/23/08 @ 2:39 am

    Oh, thanks for reminding me about this EGO lights Jaden… When I saw your other post I had noted it down and was going to buy it after I came back from vacation, but completley forgot!

    So, can I really manage with just one or should I get two?

  3. kat — 4/23/08 @ 2:40 am

    I think I may have a little butter to try this recipe :)

  4. Melinda — 4/23/08 @ 4:04 am

    Garam Masala can have different spices mixed in so just check on the side of the spice jar first. I wanted some for cookies and was amazed to find some contained garlic and some didn’t. I really didn’t fancy garlic in my cookies because I am fussy that way!
    Here in England there is a wealth of lovely wonderful Indian spices. My Indian friends prefer to make their own garam masala mix and swear their special mix is the best and freshest.
    Your beans do look tempting.
    I am coming to help you with the laundry, and can be there in say…2 weeks. I am really good at laundry. Stains are a specialty. Such hidden talents!

  5. as much as i’d love the lowel ego lights, i think they will take over & occupy almost my whole “dining area”…hello hong kong tiny flats :) and i’ll be forced to eat standing on 1 leg, yoga style, 1 hand up in the air balancing my plate while trying to shove food into mouth with the other hand (wat a steamy pose!)

  6. Kat — 4/23/08 @ 7:41 am

    Oooooh! PENZEY’S!! I dream of someday having a Penzey’s store within easy driving distance! Meanwhile, ordering online, not only do you get the spices shipped to you, but you get their CATALOG with wonderfully useful descriptions of every spice and blend (and several recipes to boot!) Meanwhile, if you like the Garam Masala experiment(s), try their Sweet Curry too. Divine aroma. Like the lady says, you don’t have to take on an entire Indian recipe! Use it to do a change up on familiar favorites, or just put it in scrambled eggs done with a little bit of chopped onion. Mmmmmmmmmm.

    Meanwhile, adding green beans to the grocery list…

  7. Inne — 4/23/08 @ 7:54 am

    yum, green beans! I would never have thought to combine them with garam massala, but I might just have to try. Looks delicious

  8. Mike S — 4/23/08 @ 10:18 am

    I LOVE garam masala. I’m definitely going to have to add this to my easy side-dish repertoire.

  9. Mike S — 4/23/08 @ 10:27 am

    Also, if you care to get a little more punchy with your garam masala, take a look at the recipe for Chicken Tiki Masala in Cooks Illustrated international best recipe cookbook, “The Best International Recipe: A Home Cook’s Guide to the Best Recipes in the World”. It’s easy (if a little bit fussy) and absolutely delicious. A great way to smack yourself in the face with some garam masala. :o)

  10. Mia — 4/23/08 @ 11:04 am

    Roasted cauliflower with garam masala is one of my absolute favorite things to make. I have no idea how something so healthy can taste so sinfully good, but it does! Mix a little olive oil with garam masala, salt, pepper, and garlic, and drizzle over sliced cauliflower. Roast at 400F for 25 minutes on each side (flip once), and indulge.

  11. Susan — 4/23/08 @ 11:08 am

    that looks so good…and i already have some garam masala sitting on my spice rack. :-)

  12. courtney — 4/23/08 @ 11:34 am

    I’m just becoming initiated into Indaina Cuisne. The spices blends are amazing. Lokking forward to see what more you cook from this area.Thanks for the photo tips! Always learning.

  13. Allen — 4/23/08 @ 12:44 pm

    Hmmmm …. if you cook for me, I’ll gladly be your laundry boy. Where do I sign up? :-)

    I’ve been exploring Indian cooking lately and so far garam masala is my favorite thing. I find myself adding it to more soups and stews that need a little something extra.

    I love that you make people wait for dinner because you’re photographing it. There is often scrutiny when I do it, but it’s better to capture the moment than to let a nice food blog photograph slip away :-)

    Thanks for sharing the photography insights — very helpful!

  14. patsyk — 4/23/08 @ 1:15 pm

    I happen to have some garam masala spice in my cabinet from when we did a Moroccan supper club a few months back… now I have a new recipe to try it on! Looks wonderful!

  15. Brave Sir Robin — 4/23/08 @ 2:20 pm

    Mmmmm they look great.

    Garam masala goes great with almost everything, but I loves the hazelnuts idea. I have had them with almonds loads of times, but hazelnuts? Mmmmmm.

  16. joanne — 4/23/08 @ 2:37 pm

    Those green beans look really yummy. I may have to make it tomorrow night. I need some more kid friendly recipes, as my 12 yo wants to help me prep dinner now. Darn kid is funny, he says he’s my sous chef. I tell him, you are more like a prep chef, since he’s relegated to starting pots of water to boil and fetching ingredients. The kid can make a pretty good side of sauteed summer squash though. Sorry about the laundry, no help here. I come back to a huge pile of laundry every time I visit my parents, and fat dogs too. The husband is sharing his fat ladened meals with the pups. Next time we go back to CA, I’m taking the husband with me, at least I won’t have a huge pile of laundry and the dogs can stay in a kennel and still be slim.

  17. Kim — 4/23/08 @ 2:50 pm

    I’d offer to help with laundry but the last time I ironed something, I burned a huge brown triangle into the back.

    The green beans look super yummy! I never thought of using pistachios with green beans. That’s definitely going to be dinner sometime this week.

  18. amy purple — 4/23/08 @ 4:57 pm

    mmm, green beans. Those lights look like they would be perfect if i was still doing product photography. I had a makeshift light setup with a plastic bin! It was something alright. I have a deflector now which is weird after using that setup since you couldn’t use flash before and now you have to.

  19. Rebecca — 4/23/08 @ 5:18 pm

    Welcome back! Great suggestion to try a new spice without being intimidated by it. I’m doing lots of laundry right about now, too. It’s the putting away that I hate. You can barely see our floor right now, haha!
    Glad you’re back!

  20. meeso — 4/23/08 @ 6:12 pm

    This post is funny…I remember when I started to learn Indian food I was just as overwhelmed, and it seemed like the more I learned the more I didn’t know, hence the description of my blog :) Also, when I go to a restaurant I won’t say the names either, I always point or make my boyfriend order for me. There’s a small cafe here, though, and when I go alone the owner always makes me say the names and I think he gets a kick out of it :D I have been a-cookin’ the food for over eight years now and still have tons and tons to learn, which is awesome! Anyway, your dish looks delicious as usual and I’m sure it tastes great :)

  21. Lynn — 4/23/08 @ 6:29 pm

    I like the approach of trying just one new spice to see if you like it, rather than ending up with 5 (expensive) spices you really don’t care for cluttering up your cupboard with guilt.

  22. Suji — 4/23/08 @ 6:39 pm

    since my name is in that post and on TBO ;), I am officially declaring your “Doing-laundry-slave” for the rest of your life. Let me know when to move in ;)

  23. Shankari — 4/23/08 @ 7:07 pm

    This is an awesome recipe Jaden!

  24. Nan — 4/23/08 @ 8:54 pm

    Mmmm, garam masala…love that stuff. This looks like a totally simple and delicious side dish, and I can never have too many of those in my life!

  25. Dr. Biggles — 4/23/08 @ 9:03 pm

    Oh man, I’ll bet that’d be GREAT with some merquez sausages, yes. OH, and a cool, refreshing beverage.

    Biggles

  26. Barbara — 4/23/08 @ 10:10 pm

    I’ll send my hubby over, he does the laundry at our house (his mama raised him right).

    And those green beans look wonderful! I’m going to try this recipe for sure.

  27. Kevin — 4/23/08 @ 10:36 pm

    Nice photo! The green beans with butter and garam masala sound good. I picked up some garam masala a while ago but I have not done much with it yet…

  28. AppetiteforChina — 4/23/08 @ 10:57 pm

    Jaden, I’m tagging you to post up your top 10 food pics of all time. Since you already do a damn fine job of rounding up your food porn, I don’t know if you want to continue the tag. :) But in case you’re interested, check out here for more details:
    http://appetiteforchina.com/top-10-appetite-china-recipe-pictures

  29. Cynthia — 4/23/08 @ 11:21 pm

    I am going to send you some of my personal garam masala mix. It is a mixture I created.

  30. susan g — 4/24/08 @ 10:24 am

    Why are you ironing? What are you ironing? I gave it up after years of doing 7 shirts a week, long after permanent press arrived. Now my husband does the laundry and if he wants to iron…go for it! LOVE garam masala — first time was from the wonderful Time-Life series, Cooking of India, made it myself, roasted the spices in the oven. And if you don’t want “expensive” spices, find a place that sells herbs and spices in bulk so that you only buy what you’re going to use (in my store that can even mean one teaspoon!). Thanks for the inspiration.

  31. Zenchef — 4/24/08 @ 3:11 pm

    Isn’t sowjanya the Indian guy with a mohawk on American idol? ;-)
    Short comment today, I need to go buy myself a jar of garam masala… Geesh awesome!

  32. Artsygal — 4/24/08 @ 6:44 pm

    Drop me a note if you want a pronunciation lesson! ;) One of the perks for me of being an indian from thailand.. I can pronounce the ingredients from both of your lists! This post reminds me too.. I need to try to weasel my mom’s super secret garam masala recipe out of her again. It’s so good that several years ago at a school fair the chicken we were grilling smelled so fantastic we caused a vegetarian teacher to fall.. He couldn’t resist any longer!

  33. Sowjanya — 4/25/08 @ 12:22 am

    Zenchef – That would be Sanjaya ;).

  34. tigerfish — 4/25/08 @ 12:49 am

    I started with garam masala too, and used it to cook Egg Masala! Hey, I’m planning to set up something like that to *snap snap* once I return home for good. Well, I just hate to move things around at this time. The more stuff I “acquire” for photo set-up…the more headaches I get when I need to move. Thanks for all your lovely tips. I will show it to hb and say “I want this”….:D

  35. Toni — 4/25/08 @ 2:13 am

    Wouldn’t have thought of adding garam masala to green beans, but I love the idea! And, of course, the photo helps that love along.

    I’ll pass on the laundry. Did 2 loads myself. That’s enough!

  36. lotsofcravings — 4/25/08 @ 5:22 am

    omg..thats the ultimate food photography one can get man..using reflectors and bouncy things alike haha…respect

  37. Lucy V — 4/25/08 @ 5:50 am

    I love the beans recipe and I love the photo setup!

  38. michelle @ TNS — 4/25/08 @ 10:49 am

    love green beans, love garam masala, love hazelnuts, love butter.

    i get my garam masala from world spice merchants and it is to. die. fod.

    also, i know know why my photos will never, ever look like your photos.

  39. praise god for compound butters… underused but thoroughly delicious.

  40. Ann — 4/25/08 @ 1:32 pm

    This looks DELICIOUS! J’adore garam masala – so this is a must try for me. This looks warm and toasty and healthy – and might balance the sinful and calorific and decadent desserts I’ve been indulging in! :)

  41. veena — 4/25/08 @ 6:55 pm

    you got see Indian cooking videos with a chef who calls himself vahchef at http://www.vahrehvah.com he has video of garam masala too

  42. Chuck — 4/26/08 @ 10:10 am

    Green beans have to be my favorite vegetable. I love the idea of a garam masala too. I really like the flavors of Indian cooking. Very nice photo. I only use a tripod for the same reason. I also like your lighting system it beats the blue flood lights that I use. Have to see if I can find them. Thank you for sharing that.

  43. janey yang — 4/29/08 @ 10:44 pm

    Amazing, this recipe is heathy is good looking (I love green). In China, we will fry it and adding some meat and oil together to fry. But your one seems to be raw, did you cook it? I’m just curious. http://www.kitchenware-info.com is my site, and you can find many cool kithen gadgets there.

  44. Sue — 3/23/09 @ 1:34 pm

    Melinda- I would love to know how your friend makes her garam masala

  45. Melissa — 12/22/09 @ 7:42 pm

    I’ve been following your blog for quite a while and enjoying your wealth of good recipes. When Foodista announced that they are going to publish the best food blogs in a full color book that will be published by Andrews McMeel Publishing Fall 2010, I naturally thought of you. This recipe would be a good submission! You can enter here: http://www.foodista.com/blogbook/submit

    Cheers,
    Melissa

    melissa@foodista.com
    Editor and Community Developer
    Foodista.com — The Cooking Encyclopedia Everyone Can Edit

  46. Pritya — 3/14/10 @ 1:26 pm

    Hi Jaden, always enjoy coming here and seeing what you have posted as instant, fresh, tasty, simple and healthy food for dinner. I loved reading about you and your profession that is so closely related to food, and how your friend sowjanya started your experiments on Indian ingredients with the garam masala – the famous Indian spice powder that enhance the flavor of the food. You write so interestingly, enjoyed the bit wherein you have mentioned the difficulty in pronouncing Indian names :).

    Beans is a common vegetable in our kitchen for everyday Indian cooking, as an ingredient in soups, vegetables and rice dishes! Your recipe is unique – butter coated steamed beans tossed in garam masala and garnished with roasted nuts – yummy! Will definitely try this one – guess the children will love the butter coated long uncut beans!

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