Taming the Wild Spice Rack (Garam Masala Chicken)

Taming the Wild Spice Rack (Garam Masala Chicken)

My spice rack was looking pretty good not too long ago:

But that was before I started ordering like a freak from Penzeys. In no time, my orderly spice rack resembled the inside of my closet—jumbled and borderline dangerous, with bottles of all different shapes and sizes shoved in wherever I could find a sliver of space. And then I had one of those moments, when you hear a chorus of angels singing: aaaaaAAAAAA!

Gladware to the rescue.

Who knew something so simple, so basic, could make such a difference? Granted, the containers aren’t perfect for my little cabinet—the door has thick outer edges, so the nifty new spice tubs jut out just enough to keep it from closing unless they’re placed squarely down the center—but it’s making me mighty happy. The wide-open tops make it super-easy to measure, and having (nearly) everything one size neatens things up considerably. They hold a lot more than I expected—in most cases a full standard spice jar. Throw in a chance to use our new label maker, and I’m happy as a clam.

But perhaps the biggest benefit of this sudden organizational spurt was that I became reacquainted with the contents of my spice rack. Especially in summer, when fresh herbs are so easy to find, I have a tendency to forget I even have a spice rack. For instance, I had no memory of ordering Garam Masala from Penzeys, but there was a pristine jar of it, still sealed shut. When I was transferring it to its new Gladware home, I noticed that the label had a “recipe”: use one teaspoon per pound of chicken, with lime juice, oil, and salt, as a rub/marinade. I figured it was worth a shot—heck, it couldn’t be easier.

Turned out pretty good, if a tiny bit sweet:

I served it with a curry rice pilaf (another find from the spice rack) and vegetables sautéed in an Indian-style sauce I found in Madhur Jaffrey’s World Vegetarian. The sauce called for fresh ginger, which I didn’t have, so I subbed in dried, and toasted and ground cumin seeds—two more neglected spice rack residents.

Four spice tubs in one meal. That’s a pretty good total, if I do say so myself.