Asian Indian Flavors | Torrance Memorial

Published on February 23, 2022

Asian Indian Flavors

Asian Indian spices

by Kristen Hung, MPH, RDN

Think of fragrant and colorful spices and you might immediately think of Asian Indian cuisine. Indian cuisine is diverse, changing by region, religion, and locally available ingredients. Although widely varied, many Indian dishes include some combination of cooking oil or butter, spices, an assortment of vegetables, and at times meat.

Spices not only add flavor and color to most Indian dishes, but they also have many nutritional benefits to offer. For example, turmeric is a spice used in almost every Indian dish. Its main active ingredient is curcumin which has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and may benefit memory, reduce pain, and reduce risk of heart disease. Garam masala is a mixture of several ground spices usually including coriander, cumin, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Health benefits vary according to the recipe used but may include helping with digestion, providing antioxidants, and fighting inflammation.

Many Indian dishes also contain ample vegetables and plant-based proteins making them great options to include when looking for a vegetarian or vegan meal option. Our recipe this week is Cauliflower and Chickpea Masala. This recipe features cauliflower which is not only immensely versatile but popular for its low-carb and low-calorie properties. It is packed with fiber and contains plant compounds and vitamins that help boost metabolism and immune function. It also contains chickpeas which are a great source of fiber, plant-based protein, and minerals like magnesium and potassium which support heart health. Infused with spices including garam masala, cumin, and turmeric, this dish is packed with nutrients and flavor!

Save the Date!

Join us for a free LIVE virtual cooking class on March 24 at 5pm where Torrance Memorial’s Executive Chef Sam Sellona will teach you to cook a healthy, tasty recipe from the comfort of your own kitchen!

Be sure to obtain ingredients prior to event. Spice packets and recipe cards available for purchase at TMMC cafes.

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cauliflower and chickpea masalaCauliflower and Chickpea Masala

Servings: Approximately 4 servings (1.25 cups)


Masala Spice Mix

  • 2 Tbsp garam masala
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • ¼ tsp cayenne
  • ½ tsp Freshly cracked pepper

Skillet Ingredients

  • 1 yellow onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • ½ Tbsp grated fresh ginger
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 12 oz fresh cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 1 15oz can chickpeas (no salt added), drained and rinsed
  • 1 15oz can tomato sauce (no salt added)
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1/3 cup mixture of plain Greek yogurt and milk
  • Salt to taste


  1. In a small bowl, combine spices for the masala spice mix (garam masala, cumin, turmeric, smoked paprika, cayenne, and pepper).
  2. Finely dice the onion, mince the garlic, and grate the ginger. Heat a large skillet and olive oil, and add onion, garlic, and ginger. Sauté over medium heat until onions are soft and translucent (about 3 minutes). Add the spice mixture and sauté for one more minute.
  3. Add cauliflower florets to the skillet and continue to sauté for about 5 minutes or until cauliflower is cooked through and coated in spices.
  4. Add drained/rinsed chickpeas, tomato sauce, and ¼ cup water to the skillet. Stir to combine then allow to simmer for about 15 minutes. If mixture becomes too dry as it simmers, add a few more tablespoons of water.
  5. After the sauce has simmered for ~15 minutes, turn off the heat and stir in the yogurt/milk mixture. Taste the masala and add salt as needed.
  6. Serve in a bowl over rice or with a piece of naan bread for dipping.

If you are interested in learning more techniques to help build a healthy and nutritious lifestyle, contact one of our Registered Dietitian Nutritionists at the Outpatient Medical Nutrition Therapy Office or our Diabetes Self-Management Program to schedule a consultation! Located in the Torrance Memorial Specialty Center, 2841 Lomita Blvd., Suite 335, Torrance. Call 310-891-6707. Visit our Nutrition Blog for our monthly recipes and posts: