Chicken Garam Masala

Chicken Garam Masala

Indian Inspired

Who doesn't like a little ethnic variety in the kitchen to spice things up? Perhaps some Indian flare with added benefits. Garam masala is a blended mix of ground spices mostly used in North Indian cuisine. The literal translation of the word garam is "hot," so these are considered warming spices in the Ayurvedic sense; however they do not produce a spicy heat, so I like to add cayenne pepper to mine. Masala has a sweet essence creating balance with the warmth it provides, yet it's not actually sweet and has no added sugar.

Masala blends are pretty complex with anywhere from ten to thirty ingredients. Spices may include cumin, black pepper, nutmeg, cardamom, clove, and cinnamon, but the list goes on. These seasonings are typically toasted first and then ground together creating a deliciously aromatic concoction that makes my mouth water just thinking about it. And I'm not over exaggerating. It's one of my go-to spices when I'm looking for depth in a meal. 

I usually put it on poultry and have been known to dust my eggs with a little sprinkle just before serving. I also like to add it to my pre-made tomato sauce transforming it into tikka masala. I'll post my recipe for that soon and will link to it here. As a desert, dust some masala over ripe mango.

You can find garam masala at most spice shops and even at your local grocery store. I purchased this organic blend at Whole Foods. 



Health Benefits

As we're well aware, every spice is loaded with powerful health-promoting properties which is why we should be utilizing their many disease-fighting antioxidants and incorporating them in our meals. More specifically, garam masala is known to improve digestion. The heating element increases the transit time of food in the digestive tract which provides a cleansing effect. Cinnamon is one of the stand-out spices as it's an anti-inflammatory, antidiabetic, antimicrobial, anticancer antioxidant. Need I say more?

Cancer prevention is on everyone's radar these days, for good reason. The Journal of Nutrition and Cancer did a study on garam masala and how it affects animals in as little as ten days. They found that its consumption led to a significant increase in detoxification, increasing glutathione levels  (1).

I'm not surprised to learn this. When I eat foods seasoned with masala, I seem to have a more pungent aroma due to the detoxifying mechanism as well as the actual herbs making their way through my system. This past week I felt the need to purge myself of the essence of spices by preparing a mixture of bentonite clay and activated charcoal which I placed in my armpits for a spice detox. It helped pull the toxins out and rid my body of the pungent smell. Perhaps this will become part of my routine when I'm eating a lot of Indian food.



2 bone-in chicken legs
coconut oil
garam masala seasoning
cayenne pepper

Optional Ingredients:

2 carrots
1/2 red onion
2 celery stalks


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Coat chicken with coconut oil and season liberally with salt, cayenne pepper (if you like a little spice) and garam masala seasoning. 
Heat oven-safe pan on medium heat and place chicken (seasoning side down) on greased pan. I like to use coconut oil, but you can also use tea seed or avocado oil. Allow to cook for about 5 minutes on each side until brown. In the meantime, season the other side of the chicken legs. Flip and cook for an additional 5 minutes.
While chicken is browning, cut optional veggies to be placed under chicken for roasting. I used carrots, celery, red onion and butternut squash but feel free to add whatever you wish. 
Once browned, place a layer of veggies on the skillet and put chicken on top. Add any other quick-roasting veggies like broccoli, kale, green beans or another. 
Roast in preheated oven for 10-15 minutes making sure it's cooked through, and juices run clear.
Plate it over a salad or another side and enjoy!