I recently discovered an Asian store where I had bought some Indian products and one of them was garam masala. The ingredients written on the package I have bought are: Coriander, cumin, pimento,nutmeg, pepper, cardamom, clove, fennel and bay leaves.
When I asked my friend Swati, of Sugarcraft in India, if garam masala means spices, she explained to me that it means hot spices (although it is not really hot) be she also sent me her own recipe.
I did not think to check it out with Wikipedia but when I did, here is how Wiki describes Garam Masala:
“There are many variants, the most traditional mixes use just cinnamon, roasted cumin, caraway seeds, cloves, nutmeg (and/or mace) and green cardamom seed or black cardamom pods.
Many commercial mixtures may include more of other less expensive spices and may contain dried red chili peppers, dried garlic, ginger powder, sesame, mustard seeds, turmeric, coriander, bay leaves, star anise and fennel. While commercial garam masala preparations can be bought ready ground, it does not keep well, and soon loses its aroma. Whole spices, which keep fresh much longer, can be ground when needed using a mortar and pestle or electric coffee grinder.
Garam masala is used in cooking, but unlike many spices, it is often added at the end of cooking, so that the full aroma is not lost. It is not ‘hot’ in the sense that chillis are, but is fairly pungent. Garam refers to temperature hot, where the word teekha describes the heat of chillis”.
So if you want to make your own you can make a combination of these spices. I love the smell of Garam Masala.
How to make Garam Masala, recipe by Swati
Makes: about 4 tbsp of Spice Powder
1 tbsp cardamom seeds
1/ 2″ long cinnamon stick
1 tsp black cumin (shahjeera)
1 tsp cloves
1 tsp black peppercorns
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp dried coriander seeds
1 long bay leaf
Roast all the above spices lightly on low-flame for about 2 mins. Now powder them in a clean, dry spice grinder until smooth. Store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.
After making it many times I now add more spices, if I don’t have any of the above such as fennel seeds, caraway seeds or nutmeg.