Garam masala means “warm blend.” This mixture is representative of the northern Indian region of Punjab. This recipe comes form pages 25 and 26 of Raghavan Iyer’s book, 660 Curries.
1 tbsp coriander seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp whole cloves
½ tsp black peppercorns
½ tsp cardamom seeds from black pods
3 cinnamon sticks (each 3 inches long), broken into smaller pieces
3 fresh or dried bay leaves
1. Preheat a small skillet over medium-heat heat. Add all the spices and the bay leaves, and toast, shaking the skillet every few seconds, until the coriander and cumin turn reddish brown, the cloves, peppercorns, and cardamom turn ash-black, the cinnamon and bay leaves appear brittle and crinkly, and the mixture is highly fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes.
2. Immediately transfer the nutty-smelling spices to a plate to cool. (The longer they sit in the hot skillet, the more likely it is that they will burn, making them bitter and unpalatable.) Once they are cool to the touch, place them in a spice grinder or coffee grinder, and grind until the texture resembles that of finely ground black pepper. (If you don’t allow the spices to cool, the ground blend will acquire unwanted moisture from the heat, making the final blend slightly “cakey.”) The ground blend will be reddish brown and the aroma will be sweet and complex, very different from that of the pre-toasted and post-toasted whole spices.
3. Store in a tightly sealed container, away from excess light, heat, and humidity, for up to 2 months. Do not refrigerate.
Makes ¼ cup.