Homemade Garam Masala

Most of the Indian recipes calls for the ultimate spice blends "Garam Masala". Garam Masala simply means "spices with varying levels of heat". It is a spice mix that is versatile and integral part in any Indian Kitchen like, the Chinese five-spice powder. 

Garam masala will be much more fragrant and flavorful when freshly homemade than the readily available in jars. With all the dangerous adulterations everywhere which degenerates the quality of food making it sub-standard for human consumption. Using high quality ingredients to prepare masalas at home provides us the knowledge of what we consume and most importantly keeps you and your family eat healthy and safe. This spice mix can be substituted with biriyani masala (along with whole spices), any spicy gravy or even to dry rub/marinade along with yogurt. 

The composition of garam masala differs regionally and according to personal taste. Certainly, you have a lot of leeway when it comes to mixing up your own garam masala. Needless to say, it's always worthier when prepared at home with whole spices that is roasted and ground. Some garam masalas are made without dry roasting the ingredients or add additional ingredients. I personally feel the spices must be roasted before use to release its flavors and aromas. Some of the ingredients include mace, star anise, cumin, dried ginger, bay leaf, rosebuds, black pepper or coriander seeds. Once you feel the taste it gives to your cooking style you may alter the recipe to suit your needs. I came up with this spice blend recipe since I started cooking, so in all directions you can follow this recipe. 




The garam masala from south India tends to be spicier as they use black pepper, coriander seeds and cumin. I always have them ground separately and constantly ready in my spice rack. Some recipes that I cook don't require all of these ingredients hence this garam masala is versatile for almost any north or south indian dish. 


"Long Pepper" also known as "Pippal" or "Thippili" in tamil is used extensively in home remedies. It is strong, spicy and has a slight pungent taste. It amazingly treats cold, cough, diabetes and all kinds of inflammation. Long Pepper has anti cancer, anti oxidant, anti depressant, anti fungal and cardio protective properties. "Black Stone Flower" also known as "Dagad Phool" or "Kalpasi" in tamil, is a vital ingredient in indian curry masala. It is a curly dried flower that is light in weight. It is in a shade of black, grey and pale green. It releases a strong earthy aroma which very close to star anise when tempered. This magic flower treats arthritis and muscle contractions.




I have avoided "Bay Leaves" on purpose as its ideal to use it as a whole spice to be discarded. Although bay leaf has a lot of benefits and acts a natural remedy,  dried bay leaf has been reported to cause upper gastrointestinal tract bleeding, irritation in skin and causes asthma. Hence I personally opted out grinding bay leaves. "Mace" is also eliminated in my masala mix. Mace is just a coating on nutmeg and is more pungent version of nutmeg. If a recipe calls for mace, you can use nutmeg instead like I do. The "Rosebuds" gives a floral note which can be a little overpowering so add sparingly if you chose to use.



This garam masala mix can be stored an airtight container for several months. I prepare mine in smaller batches to last for approximately 2 months or less. Given a choice I prefer freshly ground masala however it's the best time saver especially when we are busy as beavers.



PREP TIME
COOK TIME
TOTAL TIME

Category: Masala spice mix
Cuisine: Indian
Level: Easy
Yields: 1 cup approximately
INGREDIENTS


Cinnamon / Cassia bark* - 6-8 sticks broken
Whole cloves - 1 tablespoon
Cardamom seeds - 12-15 nos
Fennel - 1/2 cup
Nutmeg - 1/2 nut
Thippili/ Long pepper - 1 teaspoon
Black Stone Flower/ Dagad Phool/ Kalpasi - 1 teaspoon (optional)


DIRECTIONS


1. In a dry skillet dry roast, all the ingredients mentioned in medium-low heat, stirring continuously for roasting evenly for about 5-7 minutes. 
2. When the components of the spice mix have started to brighten slightly and releases a toasty aroma, remove from heat and immediately transfer to a cool tray or platter to prevent from over roasting. 



3. Cool the spice mix completely and grinding them into a powder using spice grinder/ coffee grinder. Store in an airtight container  after it has cooled completely and away from heat. 

NOTES AND TIPS
1. Any masala spice mix tends to become bitter if roasted too long. 
2. Cinnamon come in various kinds. The cinnamon bark that I have used is known as "Cassia". Its stronger than the cinnamon quills. Cassia is the bark of the cinnamon tree.
Cinnamon quills look like tightly rolled cigars. The concentric layers of the very thin underneath layer of bark is used for desserts and mulled wine as it contains mild flavor. 

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