Garam masala (hot spice mix) is an integral part of North Indian cuisine. Traditionally, garam masala is not used in the cooking process itself, but is added to the curry after it is cooked. The correct way to use garam masala is to sprinkle it over the cooked curry immediately after the stove is turned off. The pot is then covered with the lid and the curry is allowed to sit like that until the family is ready to eat.
When it is time to eat, the lid is removed and the magic happens. The entire house is filled with the aroma that is impossible to describe in words. Everyone is suddenly hungry and can’t wait to dig in. You get the feeling, right?
Now for that magic to happen, you have to use the traditional garam masala. That means you have to make it yourself. Why, because the commercial producers of garam masala have messed it up for good. They did not honor the tradition of making garam masala that is to be added after the cooking. Instead, they turned garam masala into a curry powder.
How To Make Traditional Garam Masala At Home
Here, I will share the recipe of the traditional garam masala that was always made in my house. This one uses only the most basic of spices and is ready in no time.
- Whole Coriander Seeds: 100gm
- Black Pepper Corns: 2 tablespoons
- Cloves: 10 pcs
- Green Cardamom: 6 pcs
- Black Cardamom: 3 pcs
- Cumin Seeds: 2 tablespoons
- Salt: 1/2 teaspoon
As you can see from the list of ingredients above, the base of garam masala is coriander seeds. The other spices are added for the aroma and the punch.
1. Roast The Spices
The whole spices need to be lightly roasted in a pan or on a griddle before grinding. It is better to roast the spices individually. Keep the heat low and be careful not to burn the spices. You will know when a spice is roasted because at the precise time, its aroma will change.
2. Let The Spices Cool Down
After roasting, let the spices fully cool down.
3. Grind Together
Put all the spices in a spice grinder and grind until you get a fine powder.
Store the garam masala in a dry airtight container.
How To Use
Like I said before, do not use garam masala during the cooking. Once your curry is ready and you have just turned off the stove, sprinkle a bit of garam masala over the curry and close the lid for at least 5 minutes.
Garam masala can be added to a curry made with gravy or to a dry vegetable curry. It always works.
Kitchen King Masala
There is another Indian spice mix that is used during cooking. And that one is called “kitchen king masala“. This masala can be added to the pan along with red chili powder once you have sautéed the onions/garlic/ginger, etc. The rest goes as per the recipe.
I hope it is clear now. When you are looking to add aroma to the curry, use garam masala. When you are looking to use a curry powder, use kitchen king masala.
Watch A Video
Chef Ranveer Brar shares this recipe of Punjabi Garam Masala in a Youtube video. The chef has imparted great knowledge about this vital spice mix. Please see the video here: Tasty Garam Masala By Chef Ranveer Brar. The video is mostly in Hindi, so please enable captions while watching it.