April 22, 2011
Garam Masala is a really basic spice mixture used for Indian cooking. It's flavorful, but not too spicy on its own, and can be added to several meat, fish and vegetable dishes. You can find it in paste or powder form at most grocery stores, but I find that it's much better to roast and grind the spices at home. The flavor is substantially more authentic and fresh.
There are many variations on the recipe for Garam Masala, but this is the formula that we've been using at home. The amount that this recipe makes will last us about a month, but you can double it if you think you'd use more, or if you'd like to give some away as a gift.
1 2-inch stick of cinnamon, broken up
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 tablespoon cardamom seeds
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon whole cloves
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon saffron (optional)
Preheat a dry, heavy-bottom skillet over medium heat.
Break the cinnamon stick into small pieces, and add to a small bowl or ramekin, along with the cumin seeds, coriander seeds, cardamom seeds, peppercorns, and cloves.
Add the spices in your bowl to the preheated skillet all at once. Stir constantly until the spices are several shades darker and give off a sweet, smoky aroma. This process should take 5-10 minutes.
Once toasted, remove the spices from the heat, and transfer back into the bowl to cool. Once room temperature, add the nutmeg and the saffron, and transfer to a coffee or spice blender to grind into a fine powder.
Store in an airtight container for up to 3 months.