I’ve always been someone who dives into regions outside of my comfort zone and that’s especially true with food. As far back as I can remember, I was eating unique things most children would shy away from. An explorer at heart, I have always strived to learn, and I learn best through immersive experience. These traits reflect through all facets of my life, and certainly in my diet.
I subscribe to the “try everything once” dogma, though usually it takes two (or more) tries to know if I truly like something. It’s a rare occasion, at least when it comes to food, that I find something so off-putting I won’t even think of giving it a second chance. Unfortunately, try as I might—and I’ve tried, and tried, and tried—I just can’t seem to truly enjoy the flavor of organ meats. I have given them so many chances, over so many years, to no avail.
This has been a bit of a conundrum because, though I do eat for pleasure, I also eat for my well-being. Treating food as an investment in my mental and physical health is one of the most important aspects of self-care for me. And we all know how beneficial the addition of organ meats can be to our dietary routine. I consider organ meats nature’s multivitamins, with each type giving a host of unique benefits. Every organ is a serious powerhouse, providing a huge wallop of concentrated nutrients in a very small package. Besides being excellent protein sources, organ meats are particularly rich in amino acids and B vitamins, as well as extremely high in minerals such as iron, magnesium, selenium, and zinc. Additionally, each contains ample amounts of important fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K. And because they’re so nutrient dense, we’re able to harness their benefits without having to ingest a huge amount of them, which is exceptionally awesome when you’re like me and have a challenging time fitting them into a routine.
Luckily, however, I have found ways to make organ meats more palatable for the less-than-enthusiastic consumer. Hiding them in other foods (heart and liver in meatballs and burgers is a great start) is a sure-fire way to introduce the benefits to those with more discerning palates. Another secret is to prepare them in ways where bold flavors and spices can somewhat “mask” the strong mineral taste that many organ meats have.
This dish is one of such recipes. Indian foods are generally fragrant and assertive, and the flavors are a perfect foil for an introduction to organ meats. Additionally, the spices are full of warm, healing benefits. Garam masala is a spice blend with no exact recipe, though it will generally contain most of the same, if not similar, ingredients. It’s known in Ayurvedic medicine as a key spice blend, which contains all six of the different “rasas,” or “tastes,” with each component directly affecting certain parts of our body and whole being, in their own unique way. And lastly, as if the combined benefits of organ meats and spices weren’t enough, a dollop of cultured yogurt adds additional health benefits and balances the bold flavors. Like most stews, this one fares best if made in advance and reheated to serve, to allow the flavors to meld. Serve as a stew by itself or over rice, if desired.
Indian Masala Organ Meats
Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 20–30 minutes
1 pound assorted organ meats (liver, heart, gizzards, etc.; chicken organs are the most neutral flavored)
2–3 tablespoons butter or coconut oil
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 (1-inch) piece ginger, minced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon garam masala
⅛–¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon tomato paste
2 large tomatoes, roughly chopped
Salt and pepper
2 cups chicken stock
Chopped cilantro, for garnish
Plain, cultured yogurt, to serve
Steamed rice, to serve
- Trim all organ meats and cut into bite-size pieces. Set aside in the fridge.
- Melt butter in a large, shallow pan. Sauté onions, garlic, and ginger until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Add spices and tomato paste, and sauté for 1 minute. Add a big pinch of salt and pepper and chopped tomatoes and cook for a couple minutes, until the tomatoes begin to break down. Add chicken stock and bring to a boil. Simmer until the sauce has thickened and liquid has reduced by about half.
- Add the organ meats to sauce and gently poach until just cooked through. Be careful not to overcook or they could get tough and mealy. Taste and adjust salt and pepper.
- Ladle into bowls over hot, steamed rice, if desired, and garnish with a big dollop of yogurt and a pinch of cilantro.
Image from Briana Goodall.