Garam masala heats up dishes

Garam masala grilled chicken and vegetables contains a world of exotic flavors.

Tammy Ljungblad

When it comes to grilling, the global spice rack offers a world of exotic flavors.

In India, garam masala is the go-to spice blend. The name means "warm" or "hot," and so expect this seasoning to offer some spicy heat to the dish. A blend of up to a dozen spices, there are as many variations as there are cooks in the kitchen. The exact combination of spices varies by brand but may include pepper, coriander, cumin, dried chilies and others.

Shopping tips: As written, this recipe is not very hot; feel free to add more. Garam masala is found in stores specializing in Indian or Asian cuisines but also may be available in larger grocery stores.

Garam Masala Chicken and Vegetables

Makes 4 servings


1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts

2 (6-ounce) cartons low-fat plain yogurt, divided

3 teaspoons garam masala, divided

1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and cut into quarters

1 medium red onion, sliced 1/2-inch thick

1 medium zucchini, sliced lengthwise 1/2-inch thick

2 teaspoons vegetable oil

4 (3-ounce) whole wheat naan or pita breads

1 medium tomato, seeded and chopped

2 tablespoons minced cilantro


Pound chicken breasts to 1/2-inch thickness and place in zip-top bag. Combine 1 carton yogurt and 2 teaspoons garam masala; blend well and spoon over chicken. Seal bag and massage to coat chicken pieces evenly. Refrigerate 30 minutes.

Place vegetables in a zip-top bag; drizzle with oil, seal and shake to coat evenly. Sprinkle vegetables with 1/2 teaspoon garam masala; seal and shake to coat evenly. Stir remaining garam masala into remaining yogurt; cover and refrigerate.

Spray grill grate with nonstick spray coating. Preheat grill to medium-high or allow coals to burn to white ash. Cook chicken and vegetables over direct heat in a covered grill 8 to 10 minutes or until chicken is fully cooked, no longer pink inside and a meat thermometer registers 170 degrees and vegetables are tender, turning midway through to cook evenly. Remove chicken and vegetables to platter as they are done, cover and keep warm.

Spray both sides of naan with coating. Grill about 30 to 60 seconds per side. Slice chicken breasts into thin strips. Slice peppers into vertical strips and zucchini in half and then into thin strips. Halve onion slices and separate into rings. Place one slice of warm naan on each plate. Dollop 1 tablespoon reserved yogurt mixture on top of each bread. Top with chicken and vegetables. Sprinkle with chopped tomatoes and minced cilantro.