Garam Masala

Garam Masala is a term for a variety of spices toasted, ground and then blended together to season food.  There is no single recipe for a garam masala, it varies by region and personal tastes but some common ingredients are black or white peppercorns, cumin and cinnamon among other spices.  Typically, a garam masala isn’t spicy-hot, but a warm mix of pungent and aromatic spices used in many Indian and South Asian recipes.  The recipe I use I got from the amazing Alton Brown off the Food Network.  I like making my own because I know what went into it and really, buying spices can get expensive – buying garam masala pre-made is usually not made of the ‘good stuff’ (but they’ll charge you for it anyway!).   Anyway, mix all these whole, raw spices together, toast them for 5 minutes and let them cool another 5 minutes before grinding them up.  They’ll keep in an air-proof container (away from light) for a good month or two.  Naturally, the older it gets, the less flavor, it isn’t that it goes “bad” per se.  For infrequent use make a 1/2 batch.  For specific tips on buying, toasting, grinding, storing or organizing spices, check out my “Spice up the Experience” post!

The Mess of Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbs black cardamom seeds
  • 2 Tbs coriander seeds
  • 2 Tbs black peppercorns
  • 1 Tbs cumin seed
  • 1 Tbs brown or black mustard seed
  • 20 cloves
  • 1-2 dried arbol chilies, stemmed and crumbled.  (take the seeds out for less heat)
  • 2 – 2 1/2 inch cinnamon stick broken in half
  • 1 tsp fresh grated nutmeg (this is the only ingredient that won’t need toasted and ground, just add it in last)

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