As with many herb and spice blends around the world, Garam Masala, will vary from family to family, town to town, etc. The word “Garam” means “heat” ~ in this case, in the teachings of Ayurveda, the idea of ‘offering heat to the body’ or elevation of body temperature. The word “Masala” indicates a mixture of spices or herbs. These warming mixtures are a big part of my autumnal and winter meals.
Garam Masala is India’s most popular spice blend. Normally, it’s used as North Americans use salt & pepper, being added towards the end of meal preparation. As it’s not a bitter spice mix, it can be sprinkled onto vegetables, or into grain dishes, soups or stews and does need to be simmered at length to decrease the pungency. It incorporates all of the ‘tastes’ and is VERY good for you!
When I used to teach culinary herbal classes at my store, Studio Botanica, a few years back, the following is the version I taught, used and sold in the store. I still enjoy this blend.
- 8 tablespoons coriander seeds
- 4 tablespoons cumin seeds
- 2 tablespoons caraway seeds
- 2 tablespoons black peppercorns
- 4 teaspoons cardamom seeds (brown)
- 2 three-inch cinnamon sticks
- 2 whole nutmeg
- 2 teaspoons cloves (whole)
- In a small heavy skillet, over medium heat, gently pan toast (one ingredient at a time) cumin seeds, coriander seeds, caraway seeds, peppercorns, and cardamom until they change colour and emit a light fragrance. Turn the seeds often so that they don’t burn. Set aside on a plate to cool.
- 2. Use a food processor or spice grinder to process the nutmeg and cinnamon sticks.
- 3. Add the cloves and the lightly toasted seeds to the nutmeg/cinnamon mixture and
- grind to a fine powder.
- Store in a container with a tight-fitting lid. I prefer glass, personally. This recipe makes about 1 cup.
- Enjoy it within 6 months.
The benefits of Garam Masala are many — just look at this combination.
I’ve mentioned that the very name itself, means warming mixture.
The combination above is excellent for improving digestion, as an anti-inflammatory component in your day, as a helper with improving circulation in general, as well as an immune booster!
Sometimes I add to this mixture above, using tiny rose buds, fennel, thyme, ginger, turmeric, galangal, cayenne or other herbs I have on hand, to ‘tailor’ the mixture for a particular purpose. Here’s my current favourite roasted veggie recipe: Aromatic Roasted Carrots here.
A while back, I did a talk for a group of fabulous women from The Women’s Travel Network who were on their way to India. I shared some preparatory ideas to start a few weeks before the trip and also taught them about the healing powers of some of the herbs and spices from cuisine of the famed “sub continent”. Here’s that post, if you’d like to learn more.
Our FOOD can be our MEDICINE!!
Good green blessings to you all! Here’s to your health!