When I saw that my kabuli pulao recipe called for garam masala, I spied a challenge. I have never made my own spice blend before, but this experience was so much fun! I’ve also never cooked with garam masala before, but after taking the time to make my own blend and then use it in a recipe, I can happily say that I will be using this spice quite a bit more in my everyday cooking.
In order to enhance the flavors of each spice, dry roast them on the stove before grinding them. To dry roast, add the spices to a small skillet on the stove without any oil. Toss the spices over low heat until they become fragrant and slightly darker in color. This is the point when you add them to the spice grinder and add the nutmeg.
Okay, so… the spice grinder. At the time that I started making my garam masala, I didn’t own one. But one battered blender and one insufficient food processor later and I ended the day with a brand new spice grinder on my kitchen counter!
To be honest, this tool is a non-negotiable if you’re thinking about making this spice blend. Cinnamon is a pretty tough spice, and trying to grind it using a blender will just scratch up the inside of your appliance. I learned this the hard way. A food processor will do a better job, but you’ll still end up with little rocks of cinnamon, juuuust enough to make for some unpleasant bites. Trust me, if you can afford it, spend the $30 and get an electric spice grinder. You won’t regret it.
By the time my spice was finally finished, my kitchen smelled like you had walked right into a kitchen in India, and I had a beautifully fine, dusty powder of garam masala to experiment with during my adventures in Afghanistan. The best part? I have almost a half cup of leftover spice!! Now I can try cooking more delicious recipes with my newfound FAVORITE spice, and then I can share my experimentations with you lovely people! Stay tuned!
Until then, try making this blend for yourself. Trust me, you’ll love it!
Garam Masala, a traditional Indian fragrant spice mix
- 5 cardamom pods
- 2 pieces cinnamon bark 3 1/4 inches long
- 1/2 tsp cloves
- 2 tbsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp black cumin seeds
- 1/2 whole nutmeg grated
Combine all spices except for nutmeg in a small frying pan and dry roast over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until spices smell fragrant. Do not burn. Remove to a plate and cool.
Remove and discard pods from cardamom.
In a spice grinder, blend cardamom seeds and roasted spices to a fine powder.
Grate the nutmeg and add to the ground spices. Store in a sealed jar.
Recipe from The Complete Middle Eastern Cookbook by Tess Mallos