Garam Masala – aromatic and easy homemade spice mix for spicing up all your delicious Indian recipes. This fragrant spice blend is the best ever, authentic, quite simple and quick to make. Easy to store and use.
Check to make sure the spices are clean and do not have any extraneous substances.
Measure out the whole spices.
Toast the spices at low setting, in a skillet (preferably cast iron) for more intense flavors. Start with the larger spices (cardamom, cinnamon....). After couple minutes of toasting them, add the smaller spices (coriander, cumin, black pepper....). Toast until you smell a nice aroma, but don't burn them.
Allow the spices to cool completely.
Transfer to a nut or spice grinder and grind them until fine. Pass through a sieve, if necessary and repeat grinding down the coarse mixture.
Alternatively, you can completely skip the toasting for a more mellow flavor.
Do not toast the rose petals, if using them.
Store spice mixes in glass spice containers.
The recipe here is quite intense and works best for meats, chicken and such. And use smaller amounts for vegetarian recipes.
If you want a slightly milder version that is perfect for vegetarian recipes, you may make the garam masala using 1/2 cup coriander seeds, 1/4 cup cumin seeds, and 2 tablespoons dried rose petals (optional) instead of the quantities mentioned in the recipe above. You may use 1 tablespoon fennel seeds and skip star anise.
If you don't have black cardamom or black cumin, just substitute with green cardamom and regular cumin respectively. Black cumin (shahjeera) is quite different than regular cumin but that is the best one can do if it is not available. Preferably purchase shahjeera at an Indian store to avoid confusion with the English terms used for this spice.
How to use: Buy fresh whole spices and in small quantities at a store with high turnover, where they are not sitting on shelves for long periods. Store ground garam masala in glass containers and seal tightly.
Where to buy: It is best to buy spices at ethnic or spice specialty stores where they sell in bulk, such as whole foods. They are often much cheaper at Indian and middle eastern stores.
Substitute for Garam Masala: There is really no good substitute for garam masala. Any other spice blend from other eastern cuisines or curry powders are not going to taste the same.
Dried rose petals (culinary grade) are available at Persian/ middle eastern/other ethnic grocery stores or online.