Friday, September 16, 2011

Garam Masala - From Scratch!

What would we ever do without our much loved garam masala? Let me tell you a little secret - whenever my dish tastes bland, I add just a bit of my homemade masala and it transforms into something utterly fab. Honest.

India is a huge country with diverse cuisines. It is no surprise that each region has its own version of this spice mixture. My version is influenced by flavors we use in Punjabi cooking. My mother in law's garam masala has only three ingredients - black cardamom, fennel seeds, and cloves. My version has more than five ingredients but I promise, the aroma will woo you!

One of the main reasons I like making garam masala at home instead of buying the packaged version is the aroma and also the economical value - I need less than a teaspoon per dish.

Garam Masala

makes about 200gms

1/4 cup cumin seeds
1/4 cup cinnamon sticks
5 tbsp whole black pepper
3 tbsp green cardamom
4 tbsp black cardamom
3 tbsp cloves
2 medium sized pieces of dried ginger
2 sticks of long peppercorn
5-6 pieces of mace
1 nutmeg
1-2 dried bay leaves

There are two methods of making garam masala. The first is to place all the ingredients in a large stainless steel plate and leave them in the sun for two days. The other is fairly quick - add all the ingredients in a large pan and dry roast them on high heat for about 4-5 minutes.

I like the first process better since there is no roasted, almost burnt flavor to the spices which you may get when roasting them.

Grind the dried or roasted spices in a spice grinder or a regular mixer grinder. Though you won't get a fine powder, make sure that no large pieces remain either.

Store in an airtight container in a dry, cool place. Stores well for 3-4 months.

Important: Use only a teaspoon or less for whatever you want to use it for. This is quite strong. 

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