Garam Masala

When translated from Hindu, garam masala literally means “hot spices”. This Persian by way of Northern India seasoning totally rocks my world! I have a consistent love affair with this spicy melange and have found creative ways to incorporate it into my home recipes.

Growing up in a small backwater corner of the world provided me with not a lot of early gastronome information beyond my family’s tasty, but simple home cooking. Little did I know of the epicurean palate or even the vast array of esoteric cooks’ ingredients. My vernacular of spices and seasonings was brutally limited.

Cinnamon – check.
Nutmeg – check.
Cloves – check.
Allspice – check.
Ginger – sometimes check.

These spices all made regular appearances in our holiday pumpkin pie.

…..but coriander, cardamom, mace, star anise, cumin or saffron? Of course, I had come across these words in the required school reading of this historical tome or another. But I had no clue what any of these “fragrant” spices would do to food or how desirably addictive they could become……

My Garam Masala initiation came by happy accident when I fell into a house sitting job for several months for artist friends who travel to warmer climes each winter. They cook everything from scratch (including their weekly bread) and live a mostly vegetarian existence. Their kitchen is filled with cooking ingredients brought back from their far-flung travels. On a shelf above their sink is a collection of lidded, hand thrown clay containers – all shapes, colors, and sizes – each filled with a different spice. In one of these little pots is their personal hand-ground garam masala.

The spicy odor, which perfumes the entire kitchen, repeatedly riveted my attention. Each time I entered the kitchen I could not help but pull down the garam masala, open the lid and take a hit of this wondrous, mysterious bouquet. It became my young, barely informed foodie drug of choice!

Many years later, after discovering a whole world of global foods and ethnic recipes, I decided to learn to make my own Garam Masala. This spice mixture had haunted me to the point of trying every commercially packaged masala I came across – but nothing came close to that early fragrant stimulating encounter.  Sorting through many recipes from various easterEurasianrasian cultures I settled on an assortment of likely ones and began to experiment.  Grinding, roasting mixing until I concocted a blend that satisfied my recollection of this exotic treasure.

Here’s the ingredient list….a fascinating and vivid seasoning for the adventerous!  Pour it on for a racous party in your mouth or use it as subtle underchord to quietly enhance.  Your guests will ask for recipes!

DID YOU KNOW?
Garam Masala will boost the body temperature to a comfortable warm fuzzy glow, which promotes health inducing responses in body function.
Cinnamon is anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory, and it may help boost brain function and control blood sugar in people with diabetes.
Cumin is an excellent source of iron, it aids digestion and it has cancer-fighting properties.
Coriander is sometimes referred to as an “anti-diabetic” plant because it helps control blood sugar. It also has anti-inflammatory properties and it helps lower cholesterol.

 

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GARAM MASALA
Instructions
  1. Roast whole spices – over low heat in heavy metal skillet. Stir constantly. Heat 1 [1/2] to 2 minutes until the aroma from the spices rises. You are releasing the aromatic oils from the spices. Working with a small amount at a time, pour the spices into a mortar and grind by hand with the pestle, until ground to your choice of spice size. This can be coarsely ground for visual impact or ground to a fine powder.
  2. OPT: You may also use an electric grinder.
  3. Cool – store in an airtight -dark interior- container away from heat and light. Spices will degrade if not stored properly.
Recipe Notes

**NOTE – you may choose any mixture of spices from the above list. It’s not necessary to use all (but if you do, the result is a highly fragrant and saporous seasoning.) Mix the various spices to your taste.

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