I found some wonderful spice mixtures in my local grocery store that I use on grilled chicken for my daughter. After tasting them and reading the labels, I was very surprised to learn that these products are made up of the same spices that comprise garam masala. They are not advertised as Indian spice mixtures or garam masala but taste the same. I’m impressed that Indian spices have become a part of the everyday American cooking experience.
Garam masala is an aromatic mixture that is usually used in non-vegetarian dishes, and in some vegetarian dishes, to give them a rich flavor. It literally translates from Hindi as ‘hot spice’ even though this mixture is not spicy hot. Some of the recipes in Kachi’s Kitchen that use it include:
Pachacurry (Vegetable) Puffs and Cutlets
Vazhuthinanga (Aubergine) Cutlets
Paruppu (Toor Dal) Vada
Vella Kadala (Kabuli Chenna) Masala
Cheera (Spinach) with Vella Kadala (Chickpeas)
Mutta (Egg) Chapati
Malabar Mutta (Egg) Curry
Kozhi (Chicken) Biryani
Kozhi (Chicken) Cutlets
Kozhi (Chicken) Fry
Madras Chicken Curry
Madras Meen (Fish) Curry
Meen (Fish) Tikka
Stir-Fried Meen (Fish)
Erechi (Lamb) Curry
Unda (Kofta) Curry
Pachacurry (Vegetable) Pulav
Thakkali (Tomato) Chutney
Garam masala is usually made from cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, pepper and cardamom which are roasted and ground. The ingredients and their amounts used vary regionally across the country. In addition, it is often made with dried red chilies, cardamom pods, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, fennel seeds, bay leaves and star anise. By varying the recipe, the flavor is customized to complement the recipe for which it is used. It is best when made fresh as the flavors and aroma are at their peak. If you make it ahead, store it in an airtight container and use it as quickly as possible.
Below is Kachi’s recipe for garam masala. It is a simple recipe that has a wonderful flavor.
Garam masala spice mix
¼ cup dried red chilies, ends trimmed and seeds removed
½ cup coriander seeds
2½ Tbs fennel seeds
2½ tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp cardamom pods, smashed with shells
¼ tsp cloves
2½ tsp black peppercorns
4 cinnamon sticks
2 bay leaves
In a skillet over medium heat without any oil, roast the spices dry for 5 minutes stirring frequently with a wooden spoon. Cool and powder the spices coarsely in a blender. Store in an airtight jar.
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