I know, I know. Current wisdom dictates that we’re supposed to ditch our spices after a year. However, that’s a rarity for the two of us. Some spices we’ll blow through in less than a month – other spices linger long past their aromatic phase.
For instance, I’m not going to tell you how long I’ve had my opaque bottle of garlic powder.
But generally we use spices long before the 1-year mark, because we live near a bulk spice store and can buy as much (or little) as we need every few weeks.
Or so I thought.
The other day our spice drawer was jammed, and I couldn’t figure out what the obstruction was. So I contorted my arms and finally pried loose a little tin of garam masala that I had received as a gift … about 5 years ago. At the time I wondered what had happened to that little mix of cardamom, cinnamon, cloves and other spices that make up the lovely Indian spice mixture. Now I knew, it had been lodged in the upper recesses of our spice drawer.
However, in theory, because it was old I should have thrown it away.
But, that’s something I couldn’t bring myself to do. My mother has instilled the concept of “use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without” deeply in me. And both she and my grandmother still firmly believe in that practice.
None of us are fanatical – no one’s wearing a pair of cutoff jean shorts or turning old curtains into skirts – but there’s no woman in my family who would ever throw away an unopened bottle of spice.
And my equally frugal husband, Jedd, would have given me a hairy eyeball for ditching an expensive little tin of flavor.
Since I had the spice, I thought that it might be fun to toss some of the garam masala with some sliced almonds that I had just purchased. The initial batch was small because I didn’t want to waste the nuts in case the sample batch went south. Once I pulled them out of the oven, I knew I had made a mistake.
The batch should have been tripled.
The almonds had a beautiful warm flavor with a hint of heat, and they were salty and crispy. We’ve been eating the subsequent batches on tossed salads and as snacks.
I’m pretty much addicted.
Once the tin of garam masala is gone, I’m going to make my own blend because I love making my own concoctions. And the first thing I’m going to try it with is this recipe.
Garam Masala Almonds
1 cup of sliced almonds or other nuts
2 teaspoons of olive oil
2 teaspoons of garam masala
1 teaspoon of brown sugar
Kosher salt, to taste
Preheat the oven to 275 degrees.
In a small bowl, toss the almonds together with 1 teaspoon of the garam masala, the olive oil and brown sugar. Spread out on a large rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 5 minutes and stir. Bake for another 3 minutes. The almonds should be perfectly crisp but if they aren’t, bake for another 2 minutes.
Remove almonds from the oven, and sprinkle with remaining garam masala and salt to taste. Store in an airtight container for up to 48 hours.
(Photo by Launie Kettler)