The Mind of Bluesleepy

International spice department 18 November 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — bluesleepy @ 8:11 pm

Apparently I am now the go-to girl for new recipes.  I have found my purpose in life!

No, really.  My good friend Elle binged me on Sunday, wondering what the heck she was going to do with the garam masala she picked up at World Market.  Of course, that sent me into a mini-depression; the nearest World Market is in Maryland!  I love that place.  You can get all sorts of interesting and unique things, and their international food section is pretty comprehensive in comparison to your local grocery store.

Of course, I had the answer to Elle’s question — why, make Spiced Chicken Thighs!  For those of you too lazy to click on the link, here is the recipe:


  • 3/4  teaspoon  olive oil
  • Cooking spray
  • 1  cup  vertically sliced onion
  • 2  teaspoons  garam masala
  • 1/2  teaspoon  salt
  • 1/4  teaspoon  curry powder
  • 8  chicken thighs (about 2 1/4 pounds), skinned
  • 1/4  cup  dry red wine
  • 2  tablespoons  red wine vinegar
  • 1  cup  fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 3  tablespoons  chopped fresh parsley


Heat oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add onion; sauté 3 minutes. Remove from pan.

Combine garam masala, salt, and curry powder; sprinkle evenly over chicken. Add chicken to pan; cook over medium-high heat 4 minutes on each side or until browned. Add wine and vinegar; cook 30 seconds, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Add onion and broth; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes or until chicken is done; stir in parsley.

I make a few changes to the recipe.  For one thing, I don’t use cooking spray.  I use about a teaspooon of olive oil instead with a tiny bit of salt to saute the onions.  I tend to leave out the fresh parsley, mainly because they don’t sell flat-leaf parsley at the commissary.  Also, I thicken the sauce with a mixture of 1 Tablespoon cornstarch to 2 Tablespoons cold water added to the sauce and boiled for a minute.  Usually I serve it with couscous, and I may even get jiggy with it and add peas to the couscous as it’s steaming.  The sauce is especially good when you have something to sop it up with, but tonight I was a wee bit pressed for time, so no couscous.

Tonight instead I served it with a side of sliced peaches, since this recipe reminds me of Moroccan flavors which taste especially good with fruits like apricots.  And it was easier to crack open a can of sliced peaches at the very last second versus steaming up some couscous.

You know, I am realizing that I have a very international palate.  I never really thought about it; it’s just what we were raised with.  My mom isn’t the greatest of cooks, though she really tries hard, but she thought nothing of making a Chinese stir-fry one night and some tabbouli as a side for lunch the next day.  There was no question of us eating whatever she made.  We either ate the dinner she prepared, or we would sit in front of it till we did eat it.  We weren’t even allowed to pick the veggies off the rare pizzas my dad would have delivered; we had to eat the entire pizza slice.  To this day, a good supreme pizza is my favorite kind.

International spice department

I guess my international palate is most evident in my collection of spices.  And let me tell you, this isn’t even half of it.  I’d guess it’s more like a fifth of everything I own, spice-wise.  I have another spice shelf that hangs on the wall next to these shelves, a spice carousel out on my counter, plus my corner cupboard with the lazy Susan is stuffed full of even more spices.

I’m not quite sure why I bought the filé, though I am sure Elle will be very proud.  The dry Colman’s mustard was a necessary purchase when I wanted to make my chicken & sausage recipe for my friend who has a wheat allergy.  Can you believe that prepared Colman’s mustard has wheat flour?  Of course, the garam masala is used in recipes like the Spiced Chicken Thighs.  Next to the garam masala and hidden behind the Colman’s is my enormous jar of cumin.  We seem to make a lot of Mexican food, where cumin is used quite commonly.  To the left of the filé is my giant jar of chile powder.  It’s necessary for Karyl’s Famous Chili, which calls for a full quarter-cup of chile powder.  It makes it very spicy, but oh so yummy.

Above these spices are some of the more international ones.  The jar with all the Japanese all over it is rice seasoning.  That particular jar is mostly chopped seaweed with a few other flavors thrown in, whereas the jar that’s tottering on top of the wine corks is rice seasoning that is kimchi-flavored.  Throw a wee bit of tamari (stronger version of soy sauce) onto your sticky rice and shake some kimchi-flavored rice seasoning on top, and you have a very delicious side dish.  To the left of the jar of wine corks is my Korean red pepper powder.  I haven’t used it in a recipe quite yet, but Kurt will occasionally add some to his dishes.  I plan on using it for Salty Spicy Chicken that is Kurt’s favorite dish at the Korean restaurant, if I can even find a recipe for it.  The little wee bottle at the far right is the sansho powder my friend Craige sent me from New York City (NEW YORK CITY?!?!), where Asian markets seem to abound.  She bought it so I could make my own mabo tofu, but for some reason I haven’t gotten off my tushie to make it.

Note to self: MAKE MABO TOFU.

If any of this sounds good to you, I’ll be glad to make you dinner!  It may not be the fanciest of cuisines, but it sure is delicious.


14 Responses to “International spice department”

  1. boxx Says:

    I do NOT cook at all, but I do like and appreciate well prepared and presented foods. (healthy AND delicious) I’m looking for a good VEGAN cookbook to give to my husband for Christmas. (since he does all the cooking at our house) Have you heard of any good Vegan cookbooks?

  2. beanie Says:

    But the burning question is, what do you use the bottle of corks for?????

  3. Shippie Says:

    LOL. Beanie beat me to the punch. What are they all for, and why are they in your spice cupboard??? Makes me nervous about coming for dinner, thinking you may be corking my food!

  4. Shear-Madnez Says:

    I’m impressed! You have Zatarains in your cupboard! We be lovin’ the Zatarains down here.

  5. Sleepyjane Says:

    I’d love to have dinner with you guys Blue! And compared to what we eat every night it WOULD be a fancy cuisine.

  6. sleepyjane Says:

    Ooh and let me know and maybe we can exchange parcels? I would love full albums of TDD, and maybe I can send you some rooibos tea or something?

  7. cardiogirl Says:

    Um… what’s garam masala?

  8. Elle Says:

    Yay for the file’ — I have several jars. Apparently for a while every time I went to make gumbo, I was afraid I didn’t have any and bought some. Since it is only a garnish at the end of the cooking process, usually shaken on rice at plating, I have a lifetime supply at the nonce. And chicken thighs get spicy at my house TONIGHT. (The boys treated me to pizza delivery after my first day last night…)

  9. art Says:

    oooh! you got colmans mustard!!! now, thats cookin!!! why doncha call the food network and get yer own cooking show? you make them other cooking shows look like mc donalds!

  10. terri t. Says:

    That is something I really admire about you… love all types of food, your daughters will be learning to appreciate them AND you can cook them too. What an interesting array of spices you have….bet the spice area smells awesome. Like others have said so many times, you really should try out for one of those cooking shows – bet you could win with all the variety you have….I would watch if you had a cooking show on Food Network for sure.

  11. purple chai Says:

    I saw a game on Amazon today called Active Life Outdoor Challenge that looks good. I think if I tried to snowboard, even in my own room, I’d kill myself. But after I posted, I had an excellent little workout. The stepping game in Aerobics was fun, and made me laugh.

    I got my slippers in Target, near the socks, a pair for me and a pair for K.

  12. purple chai Says:

    I saw a game on Amazon today called Active Life Outdoor Challenge that looks good. I think if I tried to snowboard, even in my own room, I’d kill myself. But after I posted, I had an excellent little workout. The stepping game in Aerobics was fun, and made me laugh.

    I got my slippers in Target, near the socks, a pair for me and a pair for K.

  13. Blue Opal Says:

    Your spice collection looks interesting. I’m running out of a lot of things, need to stock up! I had to skim through but will (hopefully!!!) be back in a few more days and start reading a bit more regularly.

  14. Fi Says:

    I do a similar recipe. Try a little minced ginger in it. It adds a nice zing.

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