Curry is the gateway to Indian cooking. It is the backbone of Indian cooking, it’s the glory of Indian cooking. 660 Curries (Workman Publishing, 2008), by Rhagavan Iyer, is jam-packed with easy one-dish dinners that dance on the palate, in recipes created from the home kitchen. This recipe for Garam Masala is from the section “Spice Blends and Pastes.”
The heady aromas emanating from the released oils of just-pulverized spices give you a hint of fresh and complex flavors that are sorely missing from store-purchased pre-ground spices. This version of garam masala does not involve toasting the whole spices. It is added to a dish early on in the cooking, allowing time for the spices to add their subtle flavors.
I find this blend to be a perfectly acceptable alternative in any recipe that calls for a commercial curry powder.
• 2 tablespoons coriander seeds
• 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
• 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
• 1/2 teaspoon whole cloves
• 1/2 teaspoon cardamom seeds from green or white pods
• 2 dried bay leaves
• 3 or 4 dried red Thai or cayenne chiles, to taste, stems removed; or 1 teaspoon cayenne (ground red pepper)
1. Place all the ingredients in a spice grinder or coffee grinder, and grind until the texture resembles that of finely ground black pepper.
2. Store the mixture in a tightly sealed container, away from excess light, heat, and humidity, for up to 2 months. (In my opinion, refrigerating the blend adversely affects its flavors.)
Tip: I usually stock both whole cardamom pods and cardamom seeds (sometimes called decorticated cardamom seeds) in my pantry. You do pay much more for the seeds, but it’s worth every penny since it saves having to pry each pod open for those menthol flavor–like tiny black seeds.
More from 660 Curries:
This excerpt has been reprinted with permission from 660 Curries by Rhagavan Iyer, and published by Workman Publishing, 2008.