garam masala

“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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“Christmas Shopping: Wouldn’t it be wonderful to find one gift that you didn’t have to dust, that had to be used right away, that was practical, fit everyone, was personal and would be remembered for a long time? I penciled in “Gift certificate for a flu shot.”
Erma Bombeck

Christmas Fruit CakeChristmas Fruit Cake with homemade marzipan toppingsWish you all A Merry Christmas,
May the Joys of the season
Fill your heart with goodwill and cheer.
May the chimes of Christmas glory
Add up more shine and spread
Smiles across the miles,
To-day & In the New Year.
Rosie Cash

Christmas Fruit Cake with homemade marzipan toppingsHave a wonderful festive season dear readers. I eventually got my fruit cakes baked. Did you? I even found time for some marzipan magic!!

~Happy Holidays!!~

[print_this]Recipe: Garam Masala Fruit Cake
your picture

Summary: An Indian twist to the traditional fruit cake. Garam masala adds to the warmth of the spices. The fruit marry well with flavours like garam masala, orange juice, brandy,caramel and lime juice. The coffee and caramel syrup give the cake a nice, deep hue!

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 2hrs 30minutes

  • Garam Masala Fruit Cake
  • 1-1.25 kg mixed fruit,nuts,peel mincemeat {mincemeat recipe follows}
  • 400gm plain flour
  • 300gm unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 200gm sugar
  • 6 eggs
  • 3/4 cup caramel syrup {Made with 1/2 cup of sugar caramelised. Add some water and heat gently to liquefy. Measure and top up with water to make 3/4 cup liquid. Cool}
  • 2tsp instant coffee
  • 2.5 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt {skip if using salted butter}
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • Mincemeat or fruit mix, sans suet
  • 700gms raisins, chopped if desired
  • 200 currants
  • 100gms orange peel, chopped
  • 170gms almonds, chopped
  • 250gms cashewnuts, chopped
  • 100gms candied cherries, chopped
  • 1/4 cup cherry liquor {or brandy}
  • 1/2 cup brandy {or rum}
  • 3/4 cup fresh orange juice {from 3 keenus/oranges}
  • Juice of 3-4 limes
  • Zest of 2 keenus/oranges
  • 4 tbsp garam masala
  • 2tsp brown sugar
  • 2 tsp instant coffee


  1. Garam Masala Fruit Cake
  2. Toss the soaked mixed fruit in the flour well in a large bowl {I used a huge wok} so that the fruit is completely coated. Reserve.
    Stir coffee into caramel syrup. Reserve.
  3. Beat the butter and sugar till fluffy, 2 minutes, add the eggs one by one and beat well again.
  4. Now add the caramel syrup and vanilla extract and beat again for a minute till well incorporated. The mixture may appear curdled but that’s fine. Add baking powder and whisk again.
  5. Turn this batter out over the mincemeat and stir well with spatula to blend uniformly.
  6. Turn into lined loaf pans/baking tins and bake at 140C until the top appears done when you touch it, about 1 hour for the loaf pans, and almost 2-2 1/4 hours for my 15 X 11 tin. {Do keep an eye on the top of the cake. My ovens ‘bake’ setting is just the lower level so the top doesn’t brown too quick. If you find the top browning too soon, please slip a foil loosely over the top about an hour and a half into baking.}
  7. Cool in tin, turn out and wrap in cling-film once cold. Allow to stand and mature in a cool dark place for a day or two, at least overnight. The longer it stands the better the flavours, but we never get that far in my fruit-cake loving household.
    Poke the top with a skewer and pour a few tbsps of brandy {or rum} over the top before wrapping the cake if you like. Makes the cake nice and moist.
  8. Sift icing sugar over the top if you like, and add some homemade marzipan toppings.
  9. !Mincemeat / fruitmince or fruit mix, sans suet
  10. Mix all the ingredients nicely and soak overnight in a cool place, or for 3-4 days. The longer you soak the fruit, the more mature the flavour. I soaked mine for 3 days. {You can substitute the alcohol with an equal amount of orange juice too}
  11. If you find the fruits are looking dry, add about 1/2 cup of brandy/rum/orange juice and toss again. Leave for a few hours for the juices to get absorbed.


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