I am a spice connoisseur and love adding them to my everyday cooking whenever I can.
One of my favourite spices that I use widely is garam masala. Garam meaning “hot” and “masala” meaning a mixture of spices. Garam masala is a blend of ground spices commonly used in Indian, Pakistani, Nepalese, Bangladeshi and Afghan cuisines. The composition of garam masala differs across regions and even actually within households. It is common for cooks within the same household to have slightly different recipes for garam masala. I am sure all thinking theirs is the best!
What I have given below is a remarkably simple “cheat” garam masala recipe. Whilst normally this calls for whole spices (and I have given the whole spice recipe at the bottom if you have all these spices to hand or want to go for the authentic version). However, given that most people keep ground spices in their household, I have given this as a simple recipe.
Like all spices, garam masala has health benefits. Here are some of the key benefits:
Full of antioxidants
Helps digestive problems.
Helps lower blood sugar levels.
In Ayurveda garam masala is said to heat the body, eliminating toxins. According to ancient Ayurveda texts, garam masala originated because it provided the right amount of warmth and heat needed for optimal metabolism. This helps so that our bodies do not become sluggish and so effectively eliminates toxins. Ayurvedic principles also believe that garam masala contains all six tastes for a perfectly balanced dish.
This is a base recipe designed to be tailored to your own tastes. There is no right or wrong with this spice so feel free to experiment and if you like the taste of a certain spice just add a little bit more in and take away from another until you are happy with your version.
Simple Garam Masala Recipe
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoon ground coriander
2 teaspoon ground cardamom – green or black
1/1½ teaspoon of cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
To really accentuate the flavour and fragrance of the masala, lightly toast the spices in a dry skillet or frying pan over a medium heat stirring until the spices really become fragrant and then when cool, put into a sealed jar. This easily keeps for about 6 months. Or if you wish you can make the masala just before you are about to use them in a recipe, so they are beautifully fresh.
To make more authentic version of garam masala (and if you have all these spices to hand)
Authentic garam masala recipe:
One tablespoon of coriander seeds
One tablespoon of cumin seeds
One teaspoon black peppercorn
Half a teaspoon of whole cloves
Half a teaspoon of cardamom pods (or if you have them mix up black and green cardamon)
Half teaspoon of fennel seeds
Half teaspoon of caraway seeds
Two dried Bay leaves
1-3 dried red chillies (or substitute one teaspoon chilli flakes)
2-inch piece of cinnamon stick
half a teaspoon piece of whole nutmeg roughly chopped.
How to make:
Lightly toast the whole spices over a medium heat in a dry skillet or frying pan just for a few minutes until the spices are crackling and fragrant. Stir often being careful not to let the spices burn. Once they are cool, grind these in a spice grinder or a blender until ground into a fine powder, store in a sealable jar and again this should then keep for around six months. If you are making the authentic recipe, then my tip is do not forget the peppercorns. You can play around with these depending on how much fire you want in your spice, but these really add the kick and will even change the look of your curry to make it more wonderfully vibrant.
Garam masala is commonly used in Indian cooking especially North Indian dishes. There is no way you can make a rogan josh, tikka masala or chickpea curry (chana masala) without this spice. But you can use it anywhere where you want warm fragrant spices or to liven a dish up. The masala is wonderful for example, in a carrot and coriander or butternut squash soup. Equally sautés, stir fries and curries. Waken up some steamed veg or potatoes by sprinkling a little of this over. Use it in coleslaw or potato salad to add a zing. You can also add it to marinades and salad dressings.
Trust me, the fragrance alone when making this spice is incredible. Once you have started making this and realise how easy it is, you will never go back to shop bought.
I would love to hear your thoughts if you make this or if you have a family recipe, how your recipe for garam masala may differ from the above… xoxo