Sunday, July 15, 2012

Homemade Garam Masala

As I'm currently knee-deep in an Indian cooking phase, I decided it was time to make my own garam masala as the old remnants of the bag I purchased years ago have gotten a bit stale to say the least. I got this recipe from an old book years ago so not sure to whom it should be accredited. Suffice to say there are as many recipes for this as there are Indian chefs so not sure how patented this one is anyway. This one's really good though I'd recommend setting aside a little time to do it as there are a few time-consuming steps involved, though definitely worth the trouble as you'll probably only need to make it every several months or so at the most. I highly recommend that you only use whole herbs here rather than the pre-ground in bottles as it's key in getting the good flavor and aroma.

Drying the herbs in the oven

cardamom pod shells

separating the cardamom seeds from the pod shells

From the oven

combined herbs prior to grinding

garam masala in the jar

2 pieces cinnamon sticks (Asian, definitely not Mexican)
1/2 cup whole green cardamom pods
1/4 cup whole cloves
1/4 cup whole cumin seeds
2 tablespoons whole coriander seeds
1/4 cup whole black peppercorns

Preheat the oven to 200F.
Line a baking pan with low sides with foil and spread the herbs in a single layer on it. Place the pan in the heated oven and allow to cook for 30 minutes, stirring them occasionally making sure to not let any of them burn or color at all.
Remove the pan and allow to cool for a few minutes. Move the cardamom pods from the pan into a bowl in order to seed them. This is a little time-consuming but once you get the hang of it, should go fairly quickly. Some of the pods can be broken by hand but some may require a little help from a kitchen mallet though go slowly as the seeds could explode out of the pod if you're not careful. Extract the seeds from each pod and put aside until you're done. Meanwhile discard the pod shells.
Wrap up the cinnamon sticks in a kitchen towel and whack the towel with the flat side of a kitchen mallet in order to break them up into small pieces.
Combine all of the herbs in a bowl and stir to combine well. Add in batches about a half cup at a time into a spice grinder and grind to a powder. Combine all of the finished ground herbs into a glass jar to store and use for several months.

Tip: We discovered a good way to clean a spice grinder is to grind some rice in it between uses. Works really well.

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