Apr 7, 2013

Project 269-267: Spice It Up #1: Garam Masala

Garam Masala is one of my favorite spice blends. Masala means a blend of many spices. You can find dozens of variations on this spice blend on the Internet, in cookbooks, or in the kitchens of Indian or Pakistani cooks. I'll post the recipe I used today to make a batch. This version is simply a mash-up of several recipes I've found in books and online. I've gradually tailored it to my taste and sometimes my mood on the day I make it.

Garam Masala is not hot in terms of heat, but it's very spicy with layers of aromas.

4 tbsp cumin seeds
2 tbsp coriander seeds
1 tbsp green cardamom pods
2 tbsp black peppercorns
2 (3-inch) stick cinnamon, broken up
2 tbsp whole cloves
1 tsp grated nutmeg

Put the cumin, coriander, cardamom pods, peppercorns, cinnamon, and cloves in a dry heavy skillet over medium-high heat. You might have to do this in batches depending on the size of your largest skillet. Toast the spices, stirring/tossing frequently, until they turn several shades darker and give off a sweet smoky aroma - about 10 minutes. Do not raise the heat to quicken the process or the spices will brown prematurely, leaving the insides undercooked. Set aside in a large bowl and let cool completely.

Working in batches, transfer the mixture to a spice mill or coffee grinder and grind to a powder. Stir in the nutmeg. Store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place. I must admit, it's not uncommon that I take the jar out of the cupboard, remove the lid, and just breathe in the wonderful scent. It's aromatherapy for me.

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