Once you get a spice in your home, you have it forever. Women never throw out spices. The Egyptians were buried with their spices. I know which one I’m taking with me when I go. -Erma Bombeck
If you’re a familiar with Indian food, you’re no stranger to Garam Masala. This well-known spice blend is the finishing touch of many Indian dishes and known for being both versatile and flavorful! Garam Masala – meaning ‘Hot Spices’ is a blend of whole toasted spices which are ground into a fine powder. Each spice that is used imparts a unique flavor, and when toasted and used together with the other spices, they blend in such a way that the combination changes the individual characteristics. Garam Masala is often used as a finishing spice to help bring out the heat and flavors in dishes. It’s the ‘oooh and ahhhh’ flavor that lingers on your taste buds after you take a bite of that sizzling hot Biryani, a comforting bowl of Rajma, or that juicy piece of tandoori chicken.
As the use of certain spices differ regionally – the combination of spices that make up the blend vary according to what part of India you’re from. This is a basic North Indian recipe with heavy emphasis on coriander and cardamom. Garam Masala mixes can often be purchased, however I prefer to make and toast my own spice blends as you will get a much richer and aromatic flavor when you freshly blend them. If stored in an airtight container Garam Masala can last you months. I generally make a big batch and keep the container in my freezer, taking out a few spoons monthly in a smaller spice jar.
Here are some dishes that I’ve used garam masala in:
Homemade Garam Masala Recipe
1/4 cup coriander seeds
3 tablespoon cumin seeds
2 Indian bay leaves (tej patta)
1 tablespoon cloves
4-5 green cardamom pods
2 black cardamoms
2 star anise
1 tablespoon dried Nutmeg flowers (javitri)
1 teaspoon carom seeds (ajwain)
2 teaspoon black peppercorns
2 cinnamon sticks (usually 3-4″ in length)
In a heavy bottom pan toast all spices (except for black cardamoms) on medium low heat for 3-4 minutes or until you notice slight browning. Once toasted, remove from heat and let cool. In a spice or coffee grinder pulse all spices together until they become a fine powder. Place Garam Masala in an airtight container, and store in a cool, dry place.