Garam Masala is a spice blend in the tradition of Indian masalas, also called curries. Garam translates in Hindi to “hot” and masala to “spice” – together it’s a name for a particular style of warming, hot spice blend of Northern India. The practice of combining many spices is crucial to the complex flavors of Indian cuisine, often being considered a rite of passage when a young cook becomes a true masalchi, or spice blender.
“Garam” is the “hot” in “hot spice blend,” though this also refers to the pungency of the mixture as opposed to the heat from cayenne pepper. Bitter, hot spices such as black pepper, black cardamom, cloves, turmeric, cinnamon and cumin make up the bulk of the blend and adds rich, warming flavor to curries and stews.
While there is not much history known of Garam Masala, it is thought to have Persian origin and a long legacy of nobility. The variety of ingredients suggests it was more popular in the homes of the wealthy rather than ordinary kitchens.
Spicy, pungent flavor
Light to dark yellowish brown
Ground to fine powder
- Use to make curries and dishes such as chicken tikka masala
- Mix with melted butter or yogurt as a rub or marinade for meat prior to braising, broiling or grilling
- Add to sour cream or yogurt for dipping sauce
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