You Can Put This Three-Ingredient Sauce on Just About Anything

With only three ingredients (plus a pinch of salt), you can have an easy, delicious sauce for just about anything.

Published Mar. 14, 2022.

There’s something so satisfying about rounding out a meal with an easy, throw-together sauce. 

No need to scrape fond from a pan or wait for drippings to pool; a few ingredients can inject a burst of flavor into any dish. Often, the sauce becomes the star of the meal.

That’s why the simple combination of garam masala, yogurt, and lemon zest makes for such a perfect serve-with-anything sauce.

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To see this creamy, aromatic blend in action, ATK’s Five-Ingredient Dinners cookbook uses it in a recipe for roasted chicken and sweet potatoes.

“We used so many yogurt sauces in Five-Ingredient Dinners because it was a supereasy way of combining just a couple ingredients to make something tasty,” Digital Editor Brenna Donovan said of the sauce.

“That recipe in particular is pretty cool because it uses lemon in a couple different ways, and same with garam masala—we treat ingredients differently depending on when you add them to the recipe.”

Knowing just how delicious this combination would be, I made the recipe for myself. The sauce itself took less than a minute to throw together and complemented the roasted chicken thighs and sweet potatoes perfectly, lending the dish a smooth, zesty pop of flavor.

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The garam masala blend in particular helped warm the overall meal, leaving me needing to remind myself that this dish required only five ingredients yet achieved such an incredibly complex depth of flavor.

Though there are countless variations of garam masala, the warm flavors (“garam” means “warm” or “hot,” and “masala” means “spice blend”) dominating this Indian spice blend are consistent: black pepper, dried chiles, cinnamon, cardamom, and coriander are staples, while cloves, cumin, fennel, mace, and nutmeg frequently turn up as supporting players.

“We loved utilizing garam masala in Five-Ingredient Dinners because it's made up of multiple spices. Rather than pulling out all your spices, it's the whole shebang in one jar!” ATK test cook Sam Block said of the recipe. “Garam masala is the perfect candidate for when you want to be messing around with as few ingredients as possible.”

Here’s how to make this simple garam masala–yogurt sauce for yourself.

Garam Masala–Yogurt Sauce

  • ½ cup plain whole-milk yogurt
  • ½ teaspoon garam masala
  • ¼ teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • Pinch table salt

Whisk everything together in a bowl and voilà: a sauce for every meal.

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