Little sprinkle of Garam Masala and a humble dish like daal or sabzi reaches to another level. This wonder masala is a common spice available in most of Indian household kitchen. Garam masala is basically a blend of few ground spices and its composition differs regionally with many recipes across India. There is no official recipe of Garam Masala and many Indian families have their own version. Although, there are different versions but few ingredients commonly used everywhere are Cardamom (green or brown), Cloves and cinnamon. Other than these there are many other spices depending on personal choice, regional cuisine impact. Many commercial brands of garam masala powder are available in the market. However keen cooks like me blend their own to ensure freshness and aroma of the spices. Here I am sharing basic garam masala recipe which is widely used in Punjab and few other parts of Northern Indian home cooking.
Traditionally the spices were dried and naturally heated in sunlight for 2-3 days before grinding. The spices were then grounded in hand mortor or Haman Dista which was a key tool in Indian kitchen. But now modern electrical gadgets have make the life easier. The spices could be heated and dried in oven or on a hot griddle on gas stove. This procedure is particularly done for drying the extra moisture from the spices which makes the grinding easier and extends the shelf life of garam masala. Its always good to ground the masala in small quantity so that it is consumed before it looses its aroma.
The homemade garam masala has strong aroma and may be used carefully in smaller quantity compared to other spices. Like for 4-6 serving dishes, ½ tspn garam masala is enough. Too much quantity may spoil the taste.
- Brown Cardamom- 10 gm(2 tblspn)
- Black pepper -10 gm(2 tblspn)
- Cloves- 5 gm(1 tblspn)
- Cinnamon sticks -5 gm(8-10 sticks)
- Cumin seeds- 10 gms(1 ½ tblspn)
- Bay leaf – 2-3
- Mace -1 flower
- Nutmeg – ½ (grated 1 tspn)
- Dry Ginger piece or powdered dry ginger -5 gms(1 tspn)
Heat a griddle for at least 5 mins then switch off the stove.
Put cinnamon stick, brown cardamom and bay leaves on the hot griddle. If you are using dry ginger piece then also add it. Stir the spices till it gets little hot. Take off from griddle and transfer it in the dry grinder.
Grind it till these spices are grounded. Cover the grinder so that the aromas are not lost.
Heat the griddle again and switch off the stove when hot.
Put all other spices except ginger powder and stir it for at least 3-4 mins till extra moisture of the spices are dried up.
Transfer these in the grinder over the grounded cardamom and cinnamon. Grind it again till all the spices are powdered. Add ginger powder.
Store it in a air tight preferably in glass jar.
This procedure does not give a fine powdered form of Garam Masala as is available in commercial packed garam masalas, but these are definitely richer in taste and aroma.
This masala could be used in daily cooking like any daal or sabzi or on exotic cooking of veg or non veg dishes beside other spices like coriander powder, turmeric, salt and chilis.
However, after grinding sieve it to separate the course particles. These particles may be grinded again to get the best results. The course particles may also be stored separately and may be used for preparing stock of Pulao, Biryani or korma.