Food Blog

garam masala-spiced cashew butter and lemon

The sauce I make most often is a simple dressing that’s a variation on the following formula: nut butter + acid (vinegar or citrus) + seasoning + water to desired consistency.

Tonight I made a kale salad intended to eat alongside a warm channa masala (chickpea curry) and brown rice, so I wanted to tweak the formula to complement more cooling elements (kale and cucumber) but have a tiny kick.


  • About ¼ cup creamy cashew butter
  • Juice of one lemon
  • One garlic clove, microplaned
  • Few shakes of prepared garam masala spice blend
  • PInch salt

The dressing ingredients are whisked together in the bottom of a big metal mixing bowl. It takes a little roughhousing to break up the nut butter, often – tap the whisk against the side of the bowl, use it to mash the elements together, until you can really cream them together. It shouldn’t take too long. Once they begin to come together, add a little water and keep mixing until you get the consistency you want to dress your salad (or whatever). I find that for a salad that serves two I use about two tablespoons of water.


  • One bunch curly green kale, stem removed, leaves torn into bite-sized pieces
  • One cucumber, peeled, seeded, and finely diced
  • Half a medium red onion, thinly sliced into quarter moons

Raw kale salad, if you’ve never had the pleasure, is made using a massaging technique to break down the tough leaves. Use your hands to squeeze and knead the leaves in the mixing bowl. Really work those things. As you do this, the dressing should be getting mixed around too, and it helps with the massage process (what good is massage without massaging oil?). The volume of the leaves will reduce by almost half. Don’t worry, they still have some crunch! Plus you’ll add other chopped veggies to keep things fresh.