2 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon store-bought or homemade garam masala, recipe follows
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 pound green apples, cored and diced into 1/2-inch cubes
1 (6-inch thumb) fresh ginger, peeled, sliced into thin planks, then sliced again into thin matchsticks (about 1/2 cup)
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 large cinnamon sticks (if you have the kind you get at Indian stores, it's about 3 tablespoons of cinnamon bark bits)
3 tablespoons whole cloves
1/4 cup green cardamom pods, shelled, husks discarded (about 2 tablespoons of seeds)
4 large black cardamom pods, shelled, husks discarded (about 1 tablespoon of seeds), optional
Warm the canola oil in a medium pot over medium-high heat. When shimmering, add the cumin seeds and fennel seeds-they should sizzle upon contact. If they don't, turn the heat up a little. Cook about 30 seconds.
Add the onions and cook, stirring often, until the onions turn golden, about 10 minutes.
Now add the garam masala and cayenne pepper; cook, stirring vigorously for about 30 seconds.
Add the apples, ginger, sugar, apple cider vinegar, 2 teaspoons of salt and a generous amount of freshly ground pepper; stir and cook until the sugar melts. Keep cooking, stirring often, until the sugar thickens and caramelizes, and the apples soften, about 15 minutes.
Taste for seasonings and serve.
Combine the cinnamon sticks, cloves, green cardamom seeds, black cardamom seeds, if using, into a spice grinder or coffee grinder and grind until fine. Store the spice mix in an airtight container away from direct sunlight.
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