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This is the typical spice blend of northern India (indeed, garam masala simply means "spice blend"). It may be added during cooking or sprinkled over a dish just before serving. The more indigestible spices in this blend have already been roasted, which is why it can be sprinkled on at serving time, rather than cooked first in oil, as is the case with most other spices or spice blends.

For recipes using garam masala, click on the links at left.

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbs. cumin seeds
  • 2 Tbs. coriander seeds
  • 2 Tbs. black peppercorns
  • 1 Tbs. cardamom seeds
  • 1 tsp. whole cloves
  • 3-inch cinnamon stick, broken into bits
  • 1 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. saffron threads

Directions:

In a dry fry pan over medium-high heat, combine the cumin, coriander, peppercorns, cardamom, cloves and cinnamon stick. Dry-fry the spices, shaking the pan constantly to prevent them from burning, until they are smoking, fragrant and turn several shades darker, about 6 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the nutmeg and saffron. Transfer to a small bowl and let cool.

When completely cool, transfer the spice mixture to a mortar, blender or coffee grinder reserved solely for spices and pound or process (in batches if necessary) until finely powdered. Use immediately, or store in a tightly sealed glass jar in a cool, dry place for up to 3 months. Makes 1/2 cup.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Savoring Series, Savoring India, by Julie Sahni (Time-Life Books, 2001).