Not to be confused with curry powder, this highly aromatic mixture is widely used in Indian meat dishes and occasionally with poultry and rice. For a mellow, background spiciness, fry it with other spices at the start of cooking; to appreciate fully its powerful fragrance sprinkle over the food as a final seasoning before serving.
Literally meaning ‘hot’ (garam) ‘spices’ (masala), the basic mix not surprisingly contains the spices that are thought to create heat in the body: black pepper, black cardamom, cinnamon and cloves. However, there are hundreds of variations depending on region, type of dish and the cook – every household has its own particular blend. Here is a good basic recipe adapted from
Preheat the oven to 110°C/225°F/Gas ¼. Put all the ingredients on a baking tray and place in the oven for 3–5 minutes; this intensifies the flavours. You could even dry the spices in a microwave for 20 seconds or so.
Grind everything to a powder in a clean electric coffee grinder, then sieve the mixture to remove any husks or large particles. Store in an airtight container in the fridge and use within 2 weeks.
© 2008 Christine McFadden. All rights reserved.