Brined Garam Masala Turkey and turkey tips from my kitchen

Brined Garam Masala TurkeyA brined Garam Masala turkey has been a staple on my Thanksgiving table for all the years I have hosted the holiday, which has been all of my married life of 17 years. Over the years, I have simplified the version from my Spices and Seasons version, ditched the glaze but kept the Garam Masala brine. My brine includes the usual salt, water, loads of fresh homemade Garam Masala, and my secret ingredient – buttermilk. The enzymes in the buttermilk help with tenderizing the bird and then, we are all set for cooking the turkey low and slow. I have also over the years, skipped the basting!! So, in short, it ends up being a very low maintenance bird. Really and seriously! It is the rest of the meal that takes up more of my time.

Despite all my trials and errors, while I have posted several other recipes, I tend to not post my turkey posts, for various reasons. Firstly, I do not take the greatest of turkey pictures on Thanksgiving, you know, I am just to busy running around getting things in order. Over the past couple of years, however I have been meaning to post the recipe, and this year I finally too the plunge.  Actually, this year, I will end up cooking two turkeys, the first was for an office pot luck. I was inspired by all the complements received for my brined Garam Masala turkey that I took the leap and decided to get this post going.

Just as a disclaimer, I have tried this with a goose as well and will warn you that the goose does taste better. To complement the veggies on the table and to support a good cause, I picked up a harvest box from Hilltop Hanover Farm. I might be biased but I promise you, something spontaneous like this will notch up your cooking game several degrees. After all, it is the sides that truly round out the meal right?

Brined Garam Masala Turkey

Back to the turkey, the quality of the bird matters, I have a strong preference for a smaller (13 pound) organic turkey and have usually picked this up over the last several years at Trader Joe”s. So, the entire process for me takes 24 hours, with about a little over 1 hour of active time.

Brined Garam Masala Rurkey

Brine – Garam Masala and Buttermilk ( 19 hours): Active time 30 minutes

Cook – 4 hours low and slow: Active Time 15 minutes (to prepare the roasting rack)

Final Herb and Ghee Finish: Active Time: 15 minutes

Coconut Gravy: Active Time: 10 minutes

Brined Garam Masala Turkey

As for the slicing, I never do it… So, here is wishing everyone a very happy and peaceful holiday, may you have enough to remain thankful for everyday, or as one of my co-workers say, may your turkeys be moist and your martini’s be dry.

Brined Garam Masala Turkey and turkey tips from my kitchen

Prep Time: 20 hours

Cook Time: 4 hours

Total Time: 24 hours

Yield: Serves 13 to 14 people

Brined Garam Masala Turkey and turkey tips from my kitchen

A fragrant Garam Masala Brined turkey, cooked low and slow with a fuss free exotic coconut milk gravy.


    For the Brine
  • 2 cups apple cider
  • 2 cups butter milk
  • 1 gallon water
  • 4 cups kosher salt
  • 1 cup fresh Garam Masala
  • 1 13 pound organic turkey, all relevant insides removed
  • For the baking aromatics
  • 1 cup chopped herbs (Thyme, Sage, Cilantro)
  • 1/2 cup chopped ginger
  • 1/4 cup chopped garlic
  • 2 tablespoons crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 cup cardamoms, cinnamon and cloves
  • 2 chopped apples
  • 1 cup sliced fennel
  • 2 onions quartered
  • For the Herb and Ghee finish
  • 4 tablespoons ghee or butter
  • 1/2 chopped herbs (I use sage and cilantro)
  • For the gravy
  • 1 cup coconut milk


  1. Mix all the ingredients for the brine, place the turkey in the brine and leave for 15-24 hours.
  2. Pre-head the oven to 325 degrees, prepare the roasting pan by placing the aromatics on the bottom. Place the roasting rack over the aromatics. gently grease the rack and place the turkey on the rack.
  3. Cover the turkey and pan with foil. Place in the oven and let it cook undisturbed for 3.5 hours, 30 minutes plus about 13 minutes per pound of turkey.
  4. Crank up the oven to 375 degrees, carefully remove the foil and cook for another 20 to 25 minutes, the bird should be golden brown. Test with a meat thermometer if you are squeamish, and it should
  5. register at least 165 degrees. Turn off the heat and let the bird rest for 20 minutes.
  6. Carefully remove the bird and place on a prepared serving tray.
  7. Melt the ghee and mix in the herbs.
  8. Baste the turkey with the ghee and herb mixture.
  9. To prepare the gravy, carefully skim about 1 cup of the pan drippings. Place in a sauce pan and add in the coconut milk and bring to a boil. Check for the seasonings and place in gravy boats and serve with your turkey.


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