garam masala
Last Updated : Feb 20,2024

What is Garam Masala? Glossary | Uses + Recipes with Garam Masala |
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What is Garam Masala ?

Garam masala, which literally means hot (garam) spice (masala), is a popular spice blend used throughout India and neighbouring countries too. It is a powder made of more than 10 types of spices, and is added in small quantities at the end of the cooking process, or along with the tempering. Garam masala can be used alone or along with other seasonings and spice powders. It has a pungent flavour but is not fiery hot like chilli powder. So, some dishes might require the addition of chilli powder along with garam masala. Remember that garam masala, if added in greater quantities, or cooked for too long, can overpower the dish with its strong flavour. It is better to add just a little for its valuable special touch!

Garam masala is readily available in shops, but some families also prefer to prepare it in bulk at home. Each region and each family has its own formula with varying combinations and proportions of spices according to personal preferences. Some of the common ingredients in garam masala are black and white peppercorns, cloves, bay leaves, long pepper (also known as pippali), black cumin (known as shah jeera), cumin seeds, cinnamon, black, brown and green cardamom, nutmeg, mace, star anise and coriander seeds.

How to select garam masala
• While readymade garam masala is available in all supermarkets, as with all ground spices, they tend to lose their aroma soon.
• Whole spices, which keep fresh much longer, can be ground when needed using a mortar and pestle or electric coffee grinder.
• While buying packaged garam masala, check the expiry date and feel for lumpiness (sign of moisture inside the packet). Check the seal of the package too, to ensure maximum aroma.

Culinary uses of garam masala

As every Indian knows, this masala is most commonly used different types of sabzi throughout India. Because of the spices we use in garam masala, it is ideal for almost all subzis as it provides a complexity in flavor. A few subzis made using garam masala are:

Indian sabzi using Garam masala

•             Paneer Makhani – This classic, even though a Punjabi delicacy, is eaten all around the world and is everyone’s favorite. Made with lots of butter and lots of love, it’s a must for people who want an introduction to Indian food.

•             Mirchi ka salan – this is a dish from the southern part of India. It is a subzi made with less spicy chillies with a gravy made of peanuts, tamarind pulp, coriander seeds, coconut, garlic and many other spices that makes it delectable.

•             Pindi Chole – This is the most famous Punjabi dish known across the globe. Even though the flavors seem super complex and intense, this dish is fairly simple to make. The garam masala helps in giving it this intense taste.

Innovative recipes using Garam masala

We, of course, use garam masala in many dishes which are predominantly Indian. Due to the versatility of the spice powder, we can also use it in different ways to give certain recipes the Indian touch.

•             Masala Bread Loaf – Add a twist to the regular old white bread and make this masala bread loaf! Flavored with garlic, spices and garam masala, this can be enjoyed at tea time or you can even make a sandwich out of this!

• Combining the flavours of myriad spices, garam masala has endless culinary uses.
• It is usually added to curries, vegetable dishes, soups or stews toward the end of cooking, or sprinkled over the surface just before serving.
• It can be used while tempering dals and khichdis, added to marinades, or sprinkled over papads.

How to store garam masala
• Store the masala in an airtight container in a cool and dark place.

Health Benefits of garam masala
• Since the masala powder is added only in small quantities, it does not have substantial health benefits.
• However, the use of beneficial spices like cloves and peppercorns helps improve digestion and immune functions.

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