"While strict Hindus do not eat beef, Muslims avoid pork, for example. One common denominator in Indian cooking is the imaginative use of spices." Madhur Jaffrey
Curry and Garam Masala are the traditional classic Indian spice blends. On their own, they are potent. On food, they are seductive. Garam Masala finds itself onto foods, especially chicken, marinades, salad dressings, stir fries, and even baking in breads and sweets. But it is most often used as a final sprinkling before serving, a sort of dry sauce.
Garam Masala has a complexity from sweet, pungent, spicy hot, and savory. There is no single recipe for either blend. They vary region to region, family to family. Some add expensive saffron, others mace. Here is my recipe. It includes cardamom seeds. They are hard to find, but I consider their heady citrus aromas essential.
Makes. Just a bit less than 1/2 cup
Takes. 15 minutes, mostly spent looking for the ingredients
2 tablespoons coriander seeds
1 tablespoon cardamom seeds
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 teaspoon powdered ginger
2" cinnamon stick, broken into bits
1 teaspoon whole cloves
1 teaspoon powdered nutmeg
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
2 bay leaf
1) Warm a frying pan over medium heat and add the ingredients. Let them sit for a minute or two, and then stir. Continue to gently toast things until they start to brown and get fragrant. This process, called blooming, cooks everything and pulls the oils to the surface.
2) Dump everything into a grinder. You can use a blender, food processor, mortar & pestle, spice grinder, or coffee grinder. Crush into a fine powder.
3) Use immediately. If you store it in a tight jar, bloom the powder again before using.