Indian cuisine is known for its vast array of spices, seasoning, temperatures and aromas that enhance the taste and overall experience of many well-known dishes. Somewhere along the line, the ultimate flavor of Garam Masala was created, and Indian dishes were never the same.
Garam (“hot”) Masala (“spice mixture”) is a blend of some of the most common spices and seasonings native to the region. While flavors and temperatures of Garam Masala differ regionally throughout India and other Asian countries, no variation the composition is generally comprised of the following:
- Bay leaves
- Black and white peppercorns
- Black and green cardamom pods
- Mace (a component in nutmeg)
- Cinnamon and/or cassia bark
In some regions, the Garam Masala spices are mixed with various herbs, while in other areas, the recipe calls for the mixture to be ground with water, coconut milk, vinegar or other liquids, to make a paste. Sometimes, garlic, nuts or onions can also be added to enhance the flavor. Additionally, some recipes suggest anise, asafetida, chili, a stone flower known as dagadphool, and/or kababchini, also known as cubeb.
According to Wikipedia, the order in which Garam Masala is added to food differs in some dishes, such as:
- Rogan josh: In the case of this Kashmiri specialty, for example, coriander, ginger and chilies are each ground individually, and a garam masala of cloves, cardamom, fennel, red or black chilies, cumin, turmeric and nutmeg, is prepared separately. The cook tastes the dish carefully to determine the precise moment when the next spice should be added. The order is coriander first, then the ground ginger, then the garam masala, and finally the chilies.
- Murgh kari (chicken curry): In this chicken dish, the procedure is also precise. First, the chicken is fried and removed from the pan. Onion, garlic, and fresh ginger are added to the pan and cooked slowly for several minutes. Next, cumin, turmeric, ground coriander, cayenne, and fennel seeds are added with water and fried for a minute or so. The third stage involves the addition of tomato concassé with fresh coriander, yoghurt, and salt. The chicken is returned to the pan and more water is added. Finally, some garam masala is sprinkled on top, the pot is tightly covered, and the dish cooks another 20 minutes before serving.
- Pulao (Pilaf): In Pakistan, garam masala is a common additive to various types of this dish. It is usually added to hot oil, where the onions have been fried golden brown.
To sample some of the amazing aromas, flavors and spices of the sub-continent, visit India Chef and ask for a Garam Masala recommendation! India Chef is located at 720 Holcomb Bridge Rd., Roswell, GA 30076. For home delivery, call (770) 817-0661. To look at India Chef’s menu, visit www.indiachefatlanta.com.