Garam Masala

7,616
776
Joined Apr 3, 2008
I’ll begin by admitting that until now I’ve been using garam masala from a jar. I decided to make my own today since I’m making chicken makhani and have generally began to cook more Indian food.

So I googled a recipe and cake to find that there are many many recipes for garam masala, each so different from each other. Some have turmeric, some don’t, some use star anise, some use allspice. Mind blown. I ended up choosing a recipe that made use of the spices I have on hand. https://www.veganricha.com/2019/01/homemade-garam-masala-spice-blend-recipe.html I added some fennel and bay leaf because.... no clue why, I just hope for the best.

So what’s your masala recipe and how do you choose what variation you make?
 
222
63
Joined Sep 21, 2010
Yes, there are many variations on garam masala. I live in an area with a high population of Indo-Canadians from the Punjab, and there's lots of stores around here that sell whole bulk spices, so it's easy to find anything I need.

I use Vikram Vij's recipe for garam masala, which includes cloves, black cardamom, cumin, cinnamon, mace and nutmeg. I use all whole spices, toast, grind, and keep it in the fridge. I've seen other mixes, and I have friends who add this or that to their masala, depending on what they like.

Recipes I use will call for garam masala, and then add tumeric, coriander, more cumin, mustard seed, asafoetida, fenugreek seed, chili, mango powder, Indian bay leaves etc. if needed. Dried or fresh fenugreek leaves are nice to add to the finished dish, too, but wouldn't be included in garam masala, so far as I've seen.

So for me, garam masala is just one component of the dish and other spices can be added to it. I suspect every household will have a slightly different version. To me, though, the most important part is to make your own garam masala with whole, ground spices.
 
5,557
447
Joined Sep 5, 2008
I’ll begin by admitting that until now I’ve been using garam masala from a jar. I decided to make my own today since I’m making chicken makhani and have generally began to cook more Indian food.

So I googled a recipe and cake to find that there are many many recipes for garam masala, each so different from each other. Some have turmeric, some don’t, some use star anise, some use allspice. Mind blown. I ended up choosing a recipe that made use of the spices I have on hand. https://www.veganricha.com/2019/01/homemade-garam-masala-spice-blend-recipe.html I added some fennel and bay leaf because.... no clue why, I just hope for the best.

So what’s your masala recipe and how do you choose what variation you make?
As you make it more often you'll develop a sense for what type of spices you prefer to use and which ones to use more of... but IMO the most important thing when making your own is to start with whole spices (whole coriander seeds, peppercorns, cumin seeds, cardamom pods etc...), and toast them slowly but thoroughly (when you do it slowly it takes about 10 minutes), then let the spices cool down a bit before you grind them in a mortar and pestle. Then use as quickly as possible.

It makes a HUGE difference in my experience.
 
7,616
776
Joined Apr 3, 2008
As you make it more often you'll develop a sense for what type of spices you prefer to use and which ones to use more of... but IMO the most important thing when making your own is to start with whole spices (whole coriander seeds, peppercorns, cumin seeds, cardamom pods etc...), and toast them slowly but thoroughly (when you do it slowly it takes about 10 minutes), then let the spices cool down a bit before you grind them in a mortar and pestle. Then use as quickly as possible.

It makes a HUGE difference in my experience.
Yea I used all whole spices and toasted them. I ground them in an electric grinder though, I think it does a better job on the bay leaf. The house smells incredible, can’t wait to get the ginger going later and cook up this dish.
 
7,616
776
Joined Apr 3, 2008
Yes, there are many variations on garam masala. I live in an area with a high population of Indo-Canadians from the Punjab, and there's lots of stores around here that sell whole bulk spices, so it's easy to find anything I need.

I use Vikram Vij's recipe for garam masala, which includes cloves, black cardamom, cumin, cinnamon, mace and nutmeg. I use all whole spices, toast, grind, and keep it in the fridge. I've seen other mixes, and I have friends who add this or that to their masala, depending on what they like.

Recipes I use will call for garam masala, and then add tumeric, coriander, more cumin, mustard seed, asafoetida, fenugreek seed, chili, mango powder, Indian bay leaves etc. if needed. Dried or fresh fenugreek leaves are nice to add to the finished dish, too, but wouldn't be included in garam masala, so far as I've seen.

So for me, garam masala is just one component of the dish and other spices can be added to it. I suspect every household will have a slightly different version. To me, though, the most important part is to make your own garam masala with whole, ground spices.
I live in nyc in an area where a lot of southeast Asians live and I have access to a lot of spices, I’ll try to look for black cardamom and mace next trip to the market.
 
5,557
447
Joined Sep 5, 2008
Yea I used all whole spices and toasted them. I ground them in an electric grinder though, I think it does a better job on the bay leaf. The house smells incredible, can’t wait to get the ginger going later and cook up this dish.
Aaah good! :D I can imagine the smell. I've never made butter chicken. Last time I used Garam Masala was for Chicken Tikka Masala... wait a second... they're pretty much the same dish?

https://cafedelites.com/butter-chicken/
https://cafedelites.com/chicken-tikka-masala/
 
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