Finally I had time to roast and grind my spices, so here goes my Garam Masala recipe. I know so many of you have requested more spice recipes. Will do my best to try and post as many as I can.
What is Garam Masala
I know many people are confused, especially because here is South Africa we have Masala and then we ask for Garam Masala in our recipes. Yes, us South Africans can be a little crazy so love complicating things…haha!
Let me begin by explaining the what is garam masala first and then will get to the masala. Garam Masala is what is authentically used in Indian cooking, it is a blend of different spices.
Garam means “hot” and Masala “spices” but this doesn’t mean that it is a hot mix. It simply means that it is a warm spice mix, raises the heat in your body.It consists of cinnamon, nutmeg, pepper, coriander, cumin and a few other spices. Here you have a whole combination of spices.
Cinnamon is a little sweet, pepper is hot, coriander a little lemony and then you have the complexity of nutmeg. All these spices work so well together when the balance is right.
There is no set recipe for Garam Masala, everyone makes their own version of it. If you become quite fimiliar with Indian spices you will be able to create a mix that works for you.
When do I add Garam Masala to my dishes
Although here in South Africa we add it at the beginning of the cooking process with all our other spices, in India it is sprinkled in dishes at the end of the cooking process. It is added at the end to give the dish a burst of flavor.
However, there is no hard and fast rule as to when you add the Garam Masala to a dish. Cooking is all about experimenting until you get it just the way you like it so go ahead and use spices that in whatever way works for you.
Then what is Masala
Here is where the confusion lies. In South Africa we created our own little mix, called Masala. In India they use every spice individually, there is no mix in terms of spices that’s used to cook Indian dishes.
I guess South Africans wanted to simplify the process or maybe complicate the process…LoL! So instead of adding individual spices to an Indian dish a Masala was created with all the different spices. But unlike Garam Masala the base for the Masala is chilli powder.
Although Garam Masala is not absolutely essential to cooking Indian dishes, you can still get away cooking a good dish without it. Masala is essential to almost all Indian dishes which consists of chilli powder, cumin, coriander, turmeric etc. Now if you have a masala you won’t need all of the individual spices because it’s what all goes into a masala.
But because us Indians like complicating stuff we add Masala and then we still add more cumin, more coriander, more chilli powder…haha! Ask me why! Because we are fussy that way. None of those aunties in the spice shops can make the perfect Masala so we have to add more stuff to make our curries perfect. Less confused or more confused….Lol!
Basically Masala is an absolute must in almost all South African Indian dishes, it forms the base of most curries together with onion and ginger and garlic. Garam Masala is included in most dishes but not an absolute requirement for South African dishes. Garam Masala adds that finishing touch to an Indian dish but not everyone uses it.
I tried so I hope it’s cleared some of your confusion.
How do I make Garam Masala
You have to clean the individual spices. It is then placed in a pan and roasted on low heat until it is fragrant. Do not be tempted to roast on high heat as the spices will burn and become bitter.
Once the spices are roasted, allow them to cool. It is then placed in a coffee grinder and ground into a fine powder. It is a very quick and easy spice mix, to put together.
This spice blend is then stored in an airtight container. Although it can be stored for up to 6 months, the amount I have created won’t last that long. I personally prefer making small quantities so it remains fresh and aromatic.
Some Dishes that require Garam Masala:
- 4 tbsp coriander seeds
- 2 tbsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp elachie seeds
- 1 tbsp fennel seeds
- 2 tsp cloves
- 1 tsp black peppercorns
- 3 pieces cinnamon stick about 5cm each
- 2 black cardamoms
- 2 star aniseed
- 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
- Clean all the spices well. Wipe the cinnamon stick with a damp cloth. Remove the seeds from the cardamom pods and the black cardamom
- Place all the ingredients, except the nutmeg, in a pan and roast them on low heat until they smell fragrant
- Allow them to cool. Place all the spices in a coffee grinder and grind to a fine powder. Mix in the ground nutmeg
- Store the Garam Masala in an airtight glass jar
- Get rid of any stones or funny bits in your spices
- Wash the cinnamon sticks and bay leaf and wipe dry
- Remove the seeds from the white and black cardamom and use that in the blend
- You can add some dried curry leaf or bay leaf to the garam masala should you wish