How to make garam masala

If you are looking to make authentic Indian cuisine the first thing you will need to learn is how to make garam masala. Garam masala is an aromatic spice blend used to season dishes and add an array of flavours and fragrances to curries. Ranging from anywhere between five and thirty ingredients, garam masala blends can vary depending on personal preference or the region of origin. An incredibly versatile mixture of ground spices, garam masala is a pantry staple across India and Asia. We will explain how to form a basic garam masala while also introducing a wider range of flavours you can add in order to form a more complex blend. The beauty of garam masala lies in the fluidity of the spice blend itself, lending itself to be altered depending on personal taste and the flavours available. 

With its roots traced back to the Mongol Empire and Northern India, garam masala is translated to mean ‘hot spices’, intended to warm the recipient rather than referring to the spiciness of the blend. Thought to have been developed as a winter warmer, it grew in popularity and spread across the continent to eventually become a kitchen staple and is best when added towards the end of cooking.

No matter how many ingredients you choose to use to form your own blend, garam masala will add a complex aroma and fragrance to your dish. There are just two steps to creating the spice blend: toasting the spices and then grinding them into a fine powder.

In order to form a basic garam masala, lightly toast coriander seeds, cumin seeds, black peppercorn, ground cinnamon, cardamom seeds, fennel seeds, whole cloves and a couple of dried bay leavesToast the spices together until they turn darker and begin to release their strong aromas.

If you wish to create a more complex garam masala by including more spices, in addition to all the spices mentioned above, also add dried red chillies, fenugreek seeds, nutmeg, poppy seeds, star anise, stone flower and turmeric. These can all be added to taste, ensuring that no one flavour is too dominant in the blend. Toast these together as instructed above. 

After toasting the spices, remove them from the pan and allow them to cool. The next stage involves grinding the spices together into a fine powder using a pestle and mortar. After you have ground the majority of the spices into powder, if larger chunks remain in the grind it is best to sieve the blend, therefore removing the powder and leaving only the larger bits. Regrind those larger bits of spice until they pass through the sieve, this will ensure an even grind throughout the blend. 

Once your entire blend passes through the sieve, place your garam masala into an airtight container. This will keep for up to six months.

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