I could eat oatmeal seven ways to Sunday, I love it so. If for you, oatmeal = bowl of mush, then believe me when I tell you, it has not been properly prepared for you.
Oatmeal is a grain, and in the same way as rice or any other grain, it must be cooked to a toothsome yet tender texture, and not overcooked to a puffy, starchy, glutenous (as in sticky gluten, not gluttonous/over-indulgent) bowl of wallpaper glue. The way to achieve this with oatmeal is to steam it with just enough liquid to achieve a softened oat. More on that in the recipe.
Garam Masala is a fun spice! Not common, and more often used in savory dishes than sweet ones. It is a blend of spices, and the blend will vary depending on where you buy it. It will include some mix of cinnamon, cardamom, black/white pepper, nutmeg, mace, bayleaf, cumin, coriander, and cloves. So as you can tell by the blend possibilites, it has spices that are sweet and spices that are savory, similar to chai.
The cocoa and nutmeg really added a cozy holiday vibe, and suddenly my mind was thinking of the wisemen from the East, who brought gifts to Jesus. Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh probably weren’t all they carried, since spices were considered a valuable possession in those times, odds are they had saddles full of those too.
Either way, a cozy bowl of cocoa oats with wafting eastern aromas is a fun way to celebrate the Christmas season. The raspberries are a nice tart contrast and cacao nibs add a little crunch. Pomegranate arils would be equally festive and delicious and offer tart and crunch all wrapped up in one topping 🙂
Did you notice how the rolled oats are still distinctly individual grains? They aren’t drowning in gooey sludge. That begins with toasting them in butter. They get crisp and snappy in that butter, and that helps them maintain their cheekiness even while they are steaming in milk.
Melt one tablespoon of butter* over medium-high heat in a small saucepan. Add 3/4 cup old-fashioned rolled oats**. Stir the oats to coat them in the melted butter and allow them to toast for 2 to 3 minutes. They will become golden and slightly crisp. Pull the pan off the heat for a moment so the oats don’t burn, and add 1 teaspoon of cocoa powder, 1/4 teaspoon garam masala and 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg. Return pan to heat and stir spices into oats and toast briefly for 30 seconds. Pour in 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons unsweetened almond milk and stir to incorporate the oats. As soon as the milk begins to release wisps of steam or small bubbles cover it with the lid and turn the heat off. Set the timer for 6 minutes and allow the oats to steam. Remove lid and stir in 1 tablespoon of brown sugar. Transfer oats to a bowl and top with raspberries and 1 teaspoon of cacao nibs. If I’m in the mood for slightly sweeter oats, I will add a drizzle of maple syrup.
*Use coconut oil for dairy-free
** Use certified gluten-free oats if you have a gluten intolerance.