Beef Picadillo Using Garam Masala?

I am the kind of girl that likes to improvise.  I believe in using what you have when you can, and not spending a lot of money on individual ingredients.  SO, when I scored some organic, grass-fed ground beef I opened the fridge and said, "Speak to me!"

What I found was the last of a jar of mixed olives and half of an heirloom tomato.  So, I look around the kitchen.  I have a bundle of red onions I had just harvested and a bag of dried cranberries that I had just picked up at the store.  Those things sound like the makings for picadillo, a traditional Spanish dish that is found in many Latin countries.  Okay, but I need lots of spices for that.  Good thing I own a spice store, but I really don't want to make a trip into the store for a bunch of single spices.  What do I have on hand?  Ooo, Garam Masala!

Our Garam Masala, while traditionally used in Indian cuisine contains all of the same types of ingredients that I need for the picadillo.  Being the adventurous chef that I am, I said, "What the hell."  Turns out, that it makes an excellent blend for making picadillo.  Here is my recipe, in case you get caught with nothing but Garam Masala and are craving Spain:

Beef Picadillo using our Garam Masala

Beef Picadillo via BransonSpiceGirl

Yields: 6 servings
Total Cooking Time: about an hour


  • 1 Tbsp olive oil (or use olive oil spray to lower the fat)
  • 1 medium red or yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 oz Spanish Chorizo sausage (optional - I used a pinch of our Harissa seasoning to mimic the spiciness from the sausage)
  • 1 large (or 2 small) cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 lb. grass-fed ground beef (or any lean ground meat - I like venison or bison for this too)
  • 1 large heirloom tomato (or 2 medium vine-ripened tomatoes), chopped
  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce
  • 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1-2 Tbsp of The Spice & Tea Exchange™ Garam Masala (use more if you want a heavier spice)
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries (or raisins)
  • 2/3 cup pitted olives, chopped (use what you love)


  • Saute onion, garlic, and sausage, if using, in olive oil or olive oil spray over medium-high heat.
  • Once onions start to soften, add ground beef.  Brown ground beef in pan and season with salt and pepper to taste (I used our Chili Lime Salt and 4 Peppercorn blend).
  • Add tomatoes, sauce, vinegar and Garam Masala to combine.  Lower heat, cover, and simmer for approximately 20-30 minutes. 
  • Uncover pan, stir in raisins and olives, and allow to cook another 15 minutes.
  • Serve with rice (I like basmati or jasmine rice, but use what you love)

Wine Pairing:  We paired this with a South American Carmenere wine.  Other options would be a full bodied Rioja or spicy red Zinfandel would be good as well.

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