Garam masala

9,209
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Joined Aug 29, 2000
I've been exploring some spice palettes that are new to me (Thai, Indian) so I've been doing searches on Google and some recipe sites. My latest purchase is garam masala. The version I purchased today is a blend of coriander, cumin, ginger, cinnamon, pimento (I am guessing that's what Americans call allspice), black pepper, cardamom, cloves, bay leaves and nutmeg. I know there are many versions of this blend.

What I'm curious about is, how do some of you use it? Do you usually toast it or not before including it in recipes? Thanks for helping me with this exploration.
 

isa

3,236
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Joined Apr 4, 2000
Every Indian cookbook author seems to have a version of garam masala. In some books you are told to roast the spices before combining them and grind them. The quantity of all the spices usually vary from one book to the next. Garam masala means warming spice mix.

In Dashkin they define masala as:

A mixture or blend of herbs , spices and seasonings. A masala can be a paste or a powder, and can be made in any number of combinaisons from any number of spices.

In cuisines of India:

The aromatic spice mixture is an essential ingredients in almost all northern Indian and Moghlai dishes. It is a combinaison of cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, bay leaves, nutmeg, cumin seeds and black pepper. Some people like to add a bit of coriander and fenugreek seeds as well. The ingredients vary from family to family - each has a special blend. Although ready-made garam masala is available in Indian grocery stores, I recommend that you make your own, as the store-bought ones tend to contain fillers and don’t taste as good. Garam masala can be made in small batches in a spice grinder.


You can use garam masala is a variety of Indian dishes. For recipes you should visit Suvir's website .
 
356
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Joined Aug 23, 2000
In addition to the regular uses for garam, try replacing cinnamon or five-spice powder with it. I cut up fresh plums with a dash of sugar and a pinch of garam the other day, to sit and macerate and serve over pound cake. It was gone in five minutes.

Re: toasted? I've never toasted mine.
 
1,046
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Joined Apr 19, 2001
I love Penzey's garam masala blend, and out of laziness, use that rather than making my own.

I usually use it as a finish on a dish, rather than incorporating it into the cooking; i.e., sprinkled on a dish of dal (Indian bean dish), or on top of a mulligatawny soup with a dollop of yogurt. Adds a fresh burst of flavor - love it!
 
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Joined Mar 13, 2001
As mentioned previously, garam masala is often used to finish a dish. It is also used in marinades (chicken tikka and tandoori dishes come to mind).
 
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Joined Jan 11, 2002
Like marmalady, I usually don't toast garam masala, but add it when the dish is done to finish it. Sometimes I found vegetable or meat stew recipes where it's fried in ghee with other spices, onion and garlic before adding the main ingredients. Being pretty sweet and aromatic, it's particularly good with vegetable dishes. As everyone said, there are countless versions; the most basic I know calls only for cinnamon, cloves, cardamom and black pepper. To my taste, this version is suitable also for cooked fruit dishes...in example, believe it or not, it's wonderful to season Apfelstrudel!

Pongi
 
9,209
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Joined Aug 29, 2000
Live to Cook, you answered an aroma puzzle for me: I was trying to think of what garam masala reminded me of, and five spice powder was it.

Suvir- of course! He arrived just in time to help me learn.

Funny you should mention Penzey's. That was where I was heading when I was tempted to go to the Indian food store where I bought the spice. Since I have to pick up some things at Penzey's anyway, I'll buy some of theirs and compare.

In the mean time, I'm going to try a bit sprinkled on my coffee grounds before brewing tomorrow. Should be tasty.
 
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Joined Jul 26, 2002
I was away in Dallas... Sorry for the lateness.

Garam Masala does literally mean warming spices.

It is used whole (in forms of seeds and stalks and dried leaves) in the begining of cooking or as a powder at the end.

When it is used as a powder in the end, a very little amount is used. The reason is that as it cooks, the powder gets to be bitter.

If you visit my website, you can learn more about spices and also get a recipe for garam masala.

www.suvir.com

Also you can find several recipes there under regional cooking or recipes.

You can also go to www.egullet.com and visit the India board. You will find several more current recipes there.
 
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Joined Aug 23, 2000
... as it cooks, the powder gets to be bitter.

Aha! So that's why my plum tart with garam masala became inedible.

Mystery solved, thank you very much.
 
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Joined Jul 26, 2002
You are most welcome.
And yes.... remember, garam masala must be used very sparingly.
It can often ruin dishes, and only when used wisely and with care, can it show its magical wonders.

I am amazed at how many good desserts are ruined in the US by the addition of too much spice.

Just this morning I had one of the best pound cake with a caramel layer and a crunchy top. The topping had way too much cinnamon. I had to throw away the cake. Sad!
 
9,209
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Joined Aug 29, 2000
I'm really enjoying garam masala in my morning coffee. For two large scoops of strong coffee grounds, I sprinkle on about 1/8 teaspoon or a little more of garam masala. I'd been putting cardamom and cinnamon on it for some time, but I really like this, too. I do add half and half (and sweetener) to my coffee as well.
 
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