Showing posts with label cloves.. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cloves.. Show all posts

Jan 1, 2016

Garam Masala

Garam masala is a blend of aromatic spices commonly used in South Asian cooking. Many regions of the Asian Subcontinent have their own unique blends of garam masala. Garam in this context means 'warm' or 'heating' to the body in the Ayurvedic sense. Masala simply means spices. Garam masala can also be varied to suit personal taste.  Depending on usage garam masala may be dry roasted or left raw. 


Some regional cuisines of South Asia traditionally stir 1/2 teaspoonful of garam masala into a dish just before serving, this requires the garam masala to be dry roasted before use. Other cuisines of the Subcontinent use garam masala during cooking so the spice mix is left raw. I prefer not to dry roast my garam masala as I use it during cooking. Dry roasted spices also tend to not store well & develop an 'off' flavor if not used quickly. (I'll include techniques to dry roast spices if you wish to do so though.) 

Ingredients:
1 TBS green cardamoms/elaichi
7 brown cardamoms/kali elaichi
4 tsp cloves/laung
4 tsp cumin seeds/jeera
1&1/2 TBS black peppercorns/kali mirch
4 one & half inch pieces of cassia bark/dalchini (or cinnamon sticks)
3 mace jackets/javatri (or 1/2 tsp grated nutmeg or allspice)

Here's what to do:
For raw/unroasted garam masala- 
Coarsely grind all spices until roughly the texture of coffee grounds. Traditionally a mortar & pestle or "sil batta" was used to get this texture. Garam masala is not supposed to be like that finely ground powdery stuff you see sold at stores. To get the traditional 'coffee grounds' texture we're looking for use the 'pulse' button on your mixie, food processor, or coffee grinder until you get the desired results. If you are using a coffee grinder or small mixie jar you might want to grind each spice separately in batches to get a consistent texture. Breaking the cassia bark (or cinnamon sticks) into smaller pieces before grinding helps also. Store in an airtight container out of sunlight.

Two methods to dry roast garam masala-

Traditional- 
1) Heat a heavy bottomed frying pan or tawa for 7-10 minutes.
2) Dry roast spices one at a time in batches, or toss all spices in & stir frequently until spices give off a fragrant aroma. Do not dry roast mace, nutmeg or allspice.
3) Allow to cool completely. Grind coarsely (including mace, nutmeg, or allspice) using pulse button in mixie, food processor, or coffee grinder.  Store in an airtight container out of sunlight.
(The problem with this traditional method is that the temperature isn't really even over a tawa on a gas flame & some spices may scorch while others remain unroasted.  Cumin usually roasts faster than the other spices & when burned has an unpleasant bitter flavor.  Roasting spices separately reduces the risk of scorching but is tedious. Why do South Asians still do use traditional tawa method? Because most South Asians do not have any sort of oven in their homes.)

Fast & easy oven method-
1) Preheat oven to 220F/100C.
2) Spread all spices (except mace, nutmeg or allspice) over 13 inch by 9 inch baking pan or cookie sheet. Bake spices for 10 minutes.
3) Allow to cool completely & grind coarsely (including mace, nutmeg, or allspice) using pulse button in mixie, food processor, or coffee grinder.  Store in an airtight container out of sunlight.


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