garam masala

“It didn’t matter how big our house was; it mattered that there was love in it.”
Peter Buffett

Gingerbread Garam Masala House – some things in life take long, some miss the date, yet any project made with love is better late than never. I had plans to make a Gingerbread House over Christmas. It was something I have longed to make again for along time. With travel and other commitments it never happened. Until now….In Bangalore in November I chanced upon a billboard from Casa Grande, and it talked about a dream house. An acquaintance had booked one of those and was quite thrilled. Talking to her about her dream home, for some reason this bakers mind connected to a gingerbread house, a dream I had nurtured for long, something I longed to bake again. That set me thinking about how my dream home might be.The elements danced in my head, plans to bake moving forward. First the foundation, or oops main flavours! A recent trip into Old Delhi meant a shifting of gears from ginger to garam masala in flavouring. Such is the power of inspiration. My dream home would have garam masala aromas wafting through it. I often bake my Christmas cake with garam masala, and I can tell you that it is wonderful sweet & warm!Hence I set to work at my first free moment. Can I tell you that building a gingerbread house is a lofty project, needs a couple of hands to help, is an arduous task, yet you fall in love with it once it’s made? Yes, all that and more. 

Drawing the same parallel, so is the home you choose to live in. Make it a good choice. It’s a lofty order to build it together like this Gingerbread Garam Masala House, so it’s best left to safe hands. A good company like Casa Grande a Chennai based real estate enterprise which is driven by a strong belief in building aspirations and fulfilling them. It designs and develops quality livings spaces and operates in niche residential segments like luxury villas and apartments in Chennai, Bangalore, Coimbatore and Cochin.Well they take care of all the hard work, quality work, delivering on time all part of the deal, leaving me to take care of my edible dreams. And baking this dream home wasn’t easy by any standard. You need a firm cookie dough to keep it all together, like a good foundation does a dream home. I adapted an earlier gingerbread recipe, made it a 100% wholegrain and smelling sweetly of garam masala. Wasn’t sure my house would stand but here we are. Looks like it came together.It has all the elements I’d like in my dream home. A rustic look, simple lines, sloping roofs, loads of windows that would let in light, and a ton of greenery. The roof is covered with flower cutouts. A few snowflakes too just because it was just Christmas, and just because I love how beautiful they look. And oh yes, how could I forget to mention the beautiful aromas of garam masala cookies wafting through my kitchen.I had real fun putting this together with the daughter. You do need more hands than one to bring together this sweet little home. What would your dream home be like?

Gingerbread Garam Masala House
Print Recipe
The Garam Masala Gingerbread House is my wholegrain take on traditional Scandinavian Gingerbread House. Sweet, spicy and warm and fun to build, this little dream house is well worth the time and effort!
Servings Prep Time
6-8 people 15 minutes
Cook Time
20 minutes
Servings Prep Time
6-8 people 15 minutes
Cook Time
20 minutes
Gingerbread Garam Masala House
Print Recipe
The Garam Masala Gingerbread House is my wholegrain take on traditional Scandinavian Gingerbread House. Sweet, spicy and warm and fun to build, this little dream house is well worth the time and effort!
Servings Prep Time
6-8 people 15 minutes
Cook Time
20 minutes
Servings Prep Time
6-8 people 15 minutes
Cook Time
20 minutes
Garam Masala Biscuit dough
Sugar glue
Servings: people
Garam Masala Biscuit dough
  1. In the bowl of the food processor, process the chilled butter and jaggery for 1-2 minutes on high speed until you get a breadcrumb like mix
  2. Add the cinnamon powder and garam masala. Stir the baking soda into a 1/4 cup of boiling water Mix the baking soda with the boiling water and add to the dough along with the flour. Mix to make a stiff dough. If necessary add more water, a tablespoon at a time. Chill 2 hours or overnight.
  3. Preheat the oven to 375’F (190’C). Bake for 12 to 15 minutes until the cookie dough feels firm.
  4. Cut patterns for the house, making patterns for the roof, front walls, gabled walls, chimney and door out of cardboard. Roll the dough out on a large, ungreased baking sheet and place the patterns on the dough. Mark off the various pieces with a knife, but leave the pieces in place. {I rolled out the dough on a floured bench, roughly 1/8 inch thick, cut required shapes and transferred these to the baking sheet. Any scraps I saved and rerolled at the end.}
  5. After baking, again place the pattern on top of the gingerbread and trim the shapes, cutting the edges with a straight-edged knife. Leave to cool on the baking sheet.
Royal icing
  1. Beat all ingredients until smooth, adding the powdered sugar gradually to get the desired consistency. Pipe on pieces and allow to dry before assembling. If you aren’t using it all at once you can keep it in a small bowl, loosely covered with a damp towel for a few hours until ready to use. You may have to beat it slightly to get it an even consistency if the top sets up a bit. Piped on the house, this will set up hard over time.
Sugar glue
  1. Place in a heavy bottom saucepan and simmer over low heat just until the sugar dissolves. Take off heat. Dredge or brush the edges of the pieces to glue them together. If the syrup crystallizes, remake it.
  2. Note: Please be very careful while working with hot sugar syrup as it can burn the skin.
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“The nutcracker sits under the holiday tree, a guardian of childhood stories. Feed him walnuts and he will crack open a tale…”
Vera Nazarian

Wholegrain Bourbon Garam Masala Christmas Cake Wholewheat Bourbon Garam Masala Christmas Cake …my way of saying thanks to a year gone by. Was a turbulent year in many ways, one that I am glad to bid adieu too. The world seems less safe, less peaceful. Yet in many ways I am grateful. I have been given opportunities that I never imagined would come my way. Gifts as well…Wholewheat Bourbon Garam Masala Christmas Cake…from the stunning range of Mauivel1830 handmade copper ware from France to the Fujihoro retro porcelain enamelware from Japan, I found myself at the receiving end, and happily so! It has been a blessed feeling indeed, and this is just the tip of the ‘iceberg’!!Wholegrain Bourbon Garam Masala Christmas Cake

Fujihoro Porcelain Enameled Kitchenware To inaugurate the copper ware, I did a fun and delicious Saffron Pistachio Indian Bread Pudding using almost the whole range that was gifted to me. It took a bit of thinking. In the en, I had an absolute blast! Saffron Pistachio Indian Bread Pudding with Mauviel 1830

Saffron Pistachio Indian Bread Pudding with Mauviel 1830 The range offers kitchen collectibles that are pure art, fantastic quality, superior workmanship and an investment if you love kitchenware. I enjoy working with these beauties, whether is is baking, cooking or just serving in them. They are wonderful to use both for Indian food, and otherwise.Apple & Pear Crumble in Mauviel1830 copperwareAnother time I baked an Apple Pear Crumble the day it rained  forever. That day onwards the cold really set in. Winter  has really dug it’s heels in, and North India is treacherously cold. Chilly winds, foggy days and barely any sunlight on most dayst. Mauviel 1830It’s a good time to be in the kitchen though. The house smells divine with warm aromas wafting through it, and everyone’s hungry all the time. ALL THE TIME! Loads of nuts and chocolate are always happening, in bakes and otherwise too. Some stir fries and vindaloos as well!Chocolate Tapioca Pudding …and plenty of experiments! I was fortunate this year to get invited to join the Saffola Fit Foodie Panel. It’s been a busy past month developing healthy and fun recipes for them. It’s something I enjoy, and it makes me think out of the box constantly. Keeps me quite busy.

Saffola Oats Fit FoodieAs the thinking develops, whole grains found their way into my annual Christmas bakes too, beginning with the Wholegrain Lingoberry Thumbprint Cookies. My recent Wholegrain Christmas Stollen with dried peach + walnuts +orange peel came out a winner, and it was this inspiration that made me think a different Christmas cake.Wholegrain Bourbon Garam Masala Christmas CakeFor a first, it’s a Fig and Nut cake as the boy just does not enjoy fruit in his cake anymore. The cake is also partially whole grain. To experiment further, I used some homemade quark in it as a part substitute for butter. You can see how much I enjoyed it. More so, because IMHO, this turned out to be the best Christmas cake I have made.Wholegrain Bourbon Garam Masala Christmas Cake Flavoured with a favorite Indian spice, garam masala, the figs and nuts got a soaking in some Jim Beam Bourbon that was personalized and sent to me a few days ago. Not one to drink, I was quite happy to share it with the figs and nuts. The fig and nuts got a week of dunking in it, while I procrastinated. When the time finally came, I was in a hurry, so the method was fast tracked. Wholegrain Bourbon Garam Masala Christmas Cake I think it worked really well. Quick Quick Quick was the way I worked, and had the cake{s} in the oven in under 30 minutes. I baked 2 small cakes too in the Mauivel1830 as I love the heavy metal it’s made of. I thought they would bake well in the copper ware…and I wasn’t wrong at all!Wholegrain Bourbon Garam Masala Christmas Cake9

Recipe: Wholegrain Bourbon Garam Masala Christmas Cake
your picture

Summary: A healthy take on my normal Christmas cake. The Wholegrain Bourbon Garam Masala Christmas Cake is part wholewheat and also uses some home made quark to replace the butter. The flavours of garam masala really bring it alive, as do the bourbon undertones. Feel free to increase the spirit, or use coffee or orange juice as a substitute. It’s a quick batter to throw together, just right for the holiday season.

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours, plus time to soak fruit

  • Fig & Nut mix
  • 250g walnuts, chopped
  • 250g cashew nuts, chopped
  • 50g crystallised orange peel
  • 50g crystallised ginger
  • 125g dried figs, chopped
  • 125ml Jim Bean bourbon
  • 15g /1 tbsp garam masala powder
  • Fruit cake
  • 100g whole wheat flour
  • 100g all purpose flour
  • 100g unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 150g homemade quark
  • 200g brown sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • Topping
  • 25-30ml bourbon for drizzling


  1. Place all the ingredients for the fig and nut mix in a large bowl. Toss well together to make sure the spices and bourbon are mixed right through. Cover and leave overnight, or as long as you like. I left it out on the counter for a week since it’s freezing cold. If it is warm, maybe you can place it in the fridge.
  2. Preheat the oven to 150C.
  3. Line a 8″ round loose bottomed baking tin with 2 sheets of parchment {the cake bakes slowly and it’s important to protect the bottom}
  4. Sift together both the flours, and toss the fruit in the flour mix.
  5. In a large bowl, beat the sugar, butter and quark until light and mousse like. Beat in the eggs, followed by the vanilla extract, baking powder and salt.
  6. Add the dry mix and stir well to make a uniform thick batter.
  7. Turn into prepared tin, and bake for approximately 1 1/2 hours. My oven uses just the bottom element for baking. I turned the upper element for 7-10 minutes to brown the top.
  8. Leave to cool in tin.
  9. Turn out and drizzle over with the extra bourbon. Slice and serve immediately…
  10. … or wrap tightly in cling wrap and let mature at room temperature/in a cool place for 3-4 days. 

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“I heard the bells on Christmas Day Their old, familiar carols play, And wild and sweet The words repeat Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Christmas CakeChristmas Fruit Cake with Garam Masala ... anticipated, enjoyed, relished. December is never complete without this quintessential favourite, yet it nearly didn’t ‘happen’ this year. Yet for some reason the joy of the season, the light headed feeling, the warmth is missing. The heart feels heavy with the mindless violence that seems to raise its ugly head right across the world … be it New Delhi or New England.

Christmas CakeThe restlessness was getting overwhelming. Yesterday I needed to get into the kitchen, grab a dose of baking therapy. I have not baked for the past week. The insensitivity of the grotesque attack on the 23 year old girl in New Delhi has completely shattered us. The heart breaks that someone should have been subject to such animal behaviour.

Christmas WreathYet the strength of the human spirit of the victim is unbelievable. She has returned from near dead to prove just how strong a woman can be, still fighting death every passing minute. The tale of this strong young lady will go down in the history of India.

Christmas Wreath Yesterday I baked with her in my mind. I also gave the teen some ferns and tangerines from the garden to make me a wreath. With a little help from her brother, and none from the dog, she made me a pretty one! She managed to get Coco to wear a Santa hat too …

Coco SantaIt’s a simple fruit cake, one which shows up across the globe around this time. Often referred to as Christmas Cake, there are millions of recipes for fruit cake, in some regions every family hanging on to their own traditional recipe. Mine is a twist to our family recipe.

Candied peel

My Christmas Fruit Cake with Garam Masala has evolved from a traditional recipe handed down from my mother. Hers was the Garam Masala Christmas Cake. The one I baked this year follows the same basics of garam masala and orange juice to soak the fruit {overnight or for a few days/weeks}, some brandy thrown in if you like. I also continue to use a caramel coffee syrup to lend colour and deep flavour to the cake.

Coffee Caramel SauceEverything was done in a hurry as usual. No planning other than soaking a bunch of dry fruits and nuts the night before. I had plenty of bright oranges on hand, so decided to make candied orange peel. A recipe on Use Real Butter has stayed in my head forever.

Candied peelThe effect of the colour itself was therapeutic, mood uplifting and before I knew it I was soaking fruit in the orange juice. I threw in 3 tbsps of garam masala. Don’t worry, it doesn’t end up too strong. Nor does it make your cake smell like curry! It is beautiful. If you do have time, make your own.

Christmas CakeIt adds deep flavours of cinnamon, spice and all things nice; reminds me of gently mulled wine. Ties the season in nicely, warm and comforting in a deeply pacifying sort of a way.

Christmas Cake The daughter hates nuts, and the son hates raisins and fruit. Their taste buds always unite for Christmas Cake … right down to the last crumb. She says its all ‘mine‘, while he bitterly complains to me, naive enough to believe her… and life goes on!

Christmas Cake

Joy, Peace, Warmth, safety this holiday season dear readers.

Thank you for stopping by.


Recipe: Christmas Fruit Cake with Garam Masala your picture

Summary: Rich, fruity, nutty and deeply flavoured fruit cake for Christmas. The flavours of garam masala lift it to new heights. 

Prep Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours 45 minutes {plus soaking the fruit}

  • 1000g dried fruit and nuts {250g tutti frutti, 100g cashewnuts, 200g walnuts, 100g almonds, 3050g raisins, 50g currants}
  • 100g candied orange peel {recipe here}
  • 240ml orange juice
  • 150ml brandy {or orange juice}
  • 3 tbsp garam masala
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tbsp coffee
  • 250g unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 200g dark brown sugar
  • 5 eggs
  • 250g plain flour
  • 1tbsp vanilla extract


  1. Fruit & nut mix
  2. Chop the walnuts, cashews, almonds and candied peel. Mix with the rest of the fruit.
  3. Pour the juice and brandy into a large mixing bowl. Stir in the garam masala, followed by the fruits and nuts. Mix well. Cover tightly and leave to soak overnight or for longer. Stir the next morning, and a couple of times more.
  4. Coffee Caramel Sauce
  5. Heat the granulated sugar in a saucepan and cook until it caramelises. Once it turns a golden brown, gently add almost all the water {be careful it will splutter} and continue to mix until it all comes together. If it is still thick, add some more water. ake off heat and stir in the coffee. Cool. {Once cool, the consistency should be like flowing honey. If not, add some more water and heat gently again}.
  6. Cake
  7. Preheat the oven to 150C.
  8. Line a 22cm square tin and 2 mini loaf tins with four layers of baking paper.
  9. In a large bowl, toss the fruit with the plain flour until all fruit well coated.
  10. In a LARGE mixing bowl, beat the butter with brown sugar for a minute or so.
  11. Beat in the eggs one by one, followed by the vanilla essence, and then the coffee caramel.
  12. Now add the dry mix and stir well to combine.
  13. Ladle batter into prepared tins. Drop from a height of 15cms to get rid of any air bubbles.
  14. Bake at 150C for 2 hours {for the small ones} and 2 1/2 to 3 hours for the large one.
  15. Cool completely in tin. Either slice once cool, or wrap in clingwrap until required.


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