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Garam Masala


~This is the second post in a series running through the month of June 2009 in which I attempt to post once a day for the month.~

Hoo boy – are we having fun yet? Day three of “post-a-day” month and I’m still alive!

Here’s a recipe I just tried for the ubiquitous Indian spice medley known as garam masala (which I keep wanting to spell “Garaham Marsala” – thank cheeses for my Internets to guide me to proper spelling).  If you’re cooking Indian food a lot (and I highly recommend that you do, both for economy and for sheer yumness), you should have all these spices on hand in your pantry.  They will cost a little money up front, but they will streeeeeeeeeetch nicely and will make the difference between “ugh, why do I have to eat these crappy dirt-clod-type things called “lentils” and “oh boy!  We get to have dal with dinner tonight!”  Masala is in everything and a jar of it from the Spice Islands rack in the grocery store will run you about five or six bucks last I checked.  This recipe makes enough for one of those jars and then some, for what I would guess will cost you about a dollar, maybe less.  And your kitchen will smell super duper!


Garam Masala

Adapted from Indian Regional Classics, by Julie Sahni.

2 tablespoons cumin seeds
2 tablespoons coriander seeds
2 tablespoons cardamom seeds
2 tablespoons black peppercorns
1 (3-inch) stick cinnamon, broken up
1 teaspoon whole cloves
1 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon saffron (optional)

Put the cumin, coriander, cardamom, peppercorns, cinnamon, and cloves in a dry heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Toast the spices, stirring occasionally, until they turn several shades darker and give off a sweet smoky aroma, about 10 minutes. Do not raise the heat to quicken the process, or the spices will brown prematurely, leaving the insides undercooked. Cool completely.

Working in batches if necessary, transfer the mixture to a spice mill or coffee grinder* and grind to a powder. Stir in the nutmeg and saffron. Use immediately or store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.

Garam Masala keeps for 3 months.

Makes about 1/2 cup

* We have a very old coffee grinder with a will not quit attitude that we love. It’s perfect for grinding up all kinds of things in seconds and is relatively easy to clean. If you don’t have one and want to do a lot of cooking of foods from foreign lands, stop by your local Goodwill every week until you find one of these things and take it home. It’s an indispensable tool and once you toast some cumin and grind it up right before you put it in a recipe, you’ll understand exactly why.




  1. Tambrey says:

    A few years ago I’d have to pay someone for this inifmratoon.

  2. levitra says:

    Good to see a talent at work. I can’t match that.

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