Spiced: Desi & Indian Hip-Hop and Garam Masala Cashews

Garam masala, how do I love thee?  Let me count the ways.  And especially all the non-traditional ways: on roasted cashews, in oatmeal raisin cookie, on roasted cauliflower, on roasted cauliflower turned into soup….  and so many more.  Here, we share a fav blend recipe alongside our fav Desi Hip-Hop beats, another perfect blend.




We always stock up on several of our spices during our trips to India.  It’s interesting to see how the proportions of various spices have changed over the years, due partly to the fact that we don’t exclusively cook Indian, and also because we use the Indian spices in ways my mother-in-law never intended (or imagined?).

For example we used to get huge bags of coriander and chili powder, and tiny bags of garam masala and idli podis.  Now we get multiple large bags of garam masala, chili powder and idli podis, and smaller bags of coriander.  We also bring extremely large quantities of buffalo ghee but that’s for another post.

Of course, the garam masala is homemade by my mother-in-law, and has gained a reputation so the reason we need multiple bags is not only for our own use, but for sharing with friends.  This last visit I finally got the recipe for her proprietary blend (every Indian chef has one), but I’ve yet to try it on my own.

I think that Garam Masala Oatmeal Raisin Cookies may have been the start to my own deep love for intentionally blending cultures through food.  The cookies were the first non-traditional place I put Garam Masala, circa 2003, and since then, I’ve never made Oatmeal Raisin cookies without it.  Of course cinnamon is a large part of the flavor in Garam Masala, but the combination of the rest of the spices in the blend really kicks the cookie  to the next level.  Our freezer is never without a few rolls of the dough, ready to slice and bake (or just eat raw, straight from the freezer… guilty).

before & after: freeze a roll for easy slice-n-bake later.

Next time you’re making your favorite recipe of oatmeal raisin cookie, try adding garam masala in place of (or in addition to) cinnamon.  We dare you. One more tip: replacing raisins with dried cherries is awesome, and dried cranberries good, too.

Our second favorite non-traditional use of garam masala is on homemade roasted cashews!  I almost always have small bags of these (or another homemade nut) on me, because I’m always hungry.  Dolled up in a nice box or bag, it makes a great hostess gift.  And not only is it a great snack, but it also makes a great garnish on soup, adding nice flavor and crunch (especially garam masala roasted cauliflower soup!  have I not posted that yet?! mmm…) .

Continue to the Tastes tab for the recipe…

The other day I managed to hit the desi:NOW! show at Lincoln Center’s Out of Doors festival which was highlighting some of the local talent.  I was so impressed by the talent I had to create a playlist to capture some of their songs, as well as recent favs from watching Gully Boy, and of course all my favs from Kabir Sen (MC Kabir)!

And what better snack to have on hand with this playlist pumping from the Sonos speakers while I get some work done?  Our Garam Masala Cashews!


One note: the Rhinoceros song (last) might not appear to “fit” in this list, but it’s there because it was a song that the amazing Urban Indian Dance troupe IMGE danced to, and that was my absolute favorite performance of the evening.  I looked to see if there were any good vids of it posted, but haven’t found one yet.  In the meantime below is one clip of them doing SHOOK by Raja Kumari that night.  Check out their YouTube channel has some other gems.


Clip of IMGE dancing to SHOOK by Raja Kumari from Cultures Capsules on Vimeo.

This recipe was initially posted on Jun 19, 2011, and today we pair it with Desi Hip-hop.

Meghna’s Garam Masala Cashews

Our very favorite non-traditional use of our garam masala spice blend.
Cook Time30 mins
Course: Snack
Cuisine: blend
Keyword: cashew, garam masala, garnish, hostess gift, snack


  • 1 lb raw cashews (i.e. 1 Trader Joe’s bag)
  • 2-3 tbsp simple syrup (This depends on consistency of simple syrup. start with 2 tbsp)
  • 2 tbsp sugar (again depends… on the consistency/sweetness of your simple syrup…)
  • 1 tsp salt (or more to taste)
  • 2 tbsp garam masala (or more to taste)


  • Preheat oven to 250 F & line a baking sheet w/ parchment paper. Tip: it helps to have the parchment folded up on all sides, otherwise when you stir, some cashews will get lost under the paper.
  • Put raw cashews right onto the parchment paper, and drizzle with 2 tbsp simple syrup and mix until just coated to allow spices/salt/sugar to stick to the cashews. Too much or too watery simple syrup will mean you will cook it longer to evaporate the liquid.
  • Add sugar, sea salt, garam masala to the cashews and mix well.
  • Spread out over in one layer and bake for about 15-20 mins, stirring a few times.
  • We like to take them out just as they begin to brown.


Yumbos. Enjoy!