Inside the Spice Cabinet: Garam Masala
Comprised of many of the spices we associate with fall baking, garam masala is a popular spice blend used in Indian cooking. And while you’ll find it in the ingredient list for curries, meat, and soups, this warm blend also has a place in many of the dishes you regularly cook.
What Is Garam Masala?
Most Popular Use: Meat, poultry, vegetables, soup
Garam masala, which literally means warm spice, is a staple blend used in Indian cooking. The exact mix can vary between household and regions, though it typically includes cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, cumin, coriander, nutmeg, and peppercorns. This is not a very spicy mix, it’s used for it’s deep, warming flavor rather than heat.
Buy garam masala in small packages, or if making your own stick with making a small batch. The spices can lose some of their flavor after just a couple months, which can change the flavor balance of the whole blend. The work involved in making your own spice mix is minimal, but the difference is always very noticeable.
How To Use Garam Masala
Garam masala is best when added at the end of cooking and can even be sprinkled on a dish when serving. This mix can then be used in curries, lentils, soups or just sprinkled in some scrambled eggs.
Make Your Own Garam Masala
makes about 1/4 cup
2 sticks of cinnamon
10 green cardamom pods
8 black cardamom pods
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 teaspoon grated fresh nutmeg
2 dried red chiles
Heat a heavy skillet over medium-high heat until fully heated and slightly smoking. Add all ingredients and shake and stir for about a minute, or until the spices smell toasted, are slightly darker, and give off just a slight bit of smoke. Remove from the heat and let cool. Grind to a fine powder in a spice grinder or with a mortar and pestle, and store in an airtight container.