Back to basics - Garam Masala
Enlightenment finally dawned with the help of Madhur Jaffrey. When I got her book for the first time and browsed through the glossary, I realized I was doing everything wrong. Make your own garam masala and make it fresh were Jaffrey's first instructions. Why? Because packaged garam masala contains more of the cheaper spices like cumin and coriander instead of the expensive ones like cardamom and cloves. So much for authenticity!
Since then I use the masala liberally whenever a recipe calls for it. Sometimes even if the recipe doesn't call for it because I love the aroma! There are a few things I am grateful to Jaffrey for - teaching me to eat turnips for example, or making the perfect rogan josh but this garam masala tops the list by far.
(adapted from this recipe by Madhur Jaffrey)
(makes about 3 tbsps)
1 tbsp cardamom seeds
1 2" cinnamon
1 tsp black cumin (shahjeera)
1 tsp cloves
1 tsp peppercorns
Powder spices in a clean, dry coffee or spice grinder until smooth. Store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.
* In Prashad, Jiggs Kalra has a separate garam masala for curries, meat and mild dishes! It has either fennel, mace, ginger etc. Similarly Sanjeev Kapoor adds large cardamom (badi elaichi). All are aromatic spices and I am sure one can play around for combinations. In my opinion, those spices are good-to-add while the above six are must-add.
Recipes with this garam masala -
Paneer Tawa Masala
Hara Cholia Te Paneer
* Entry for A Spoonful of Christmas hosted by Zlamushka's Spciy Kitchen