Did you know that “Garam Masala” may include anything from 8 to 17 different ingredients? Based on the quantity of each ingredient used in a recipe, the variations are almost infinite. No wonder the depth of flavor can vary vastly between 2 different brands that sell the same spice blend. Not only do spice blends found in stores exclude Black Cardamom, some omit cardamom completely. I think this choice could be because cardamom is a relatively expensive spice. Freshness is another critical component. It is no secret that whole spices have longer shelf life than ground spices. Once you grind the spices, they taste great only for about six months or so.
I started thinking about ingredients and different recipes of “Garam Masala” last summer because of the Farmer’s Market. I was pleasantly surprised by the warm customer response at the market. Especially since I was the first to sell spice blends at the market since its inception. Some customers knew right–away how to use “Garam Masala”. Others asked how can they use “Garam Masala” to add flavor to their meal.
The fun came when customers shared quirky ways they used “Garam Masala”. I would have never thought of using “Garam Masala” on popcorn, or using it as a dry rub on a pork chop. Thanks to the customers who not only bought the spices, but took time in their visit to the market to share their use of the spice. For some who tried the blend for the first time, they asked, why does this spice add such a depth of flavor? For some who have tried store bought “Garam Masala” before, they noticed the difference.
My recipe of “Garam Masala” is actually a couple generation old family recipe. My grandparents had a small spice garden. They had Basil, Black pepper, Indian bay leaf, Lemongrass, and other spices in their garden. No wonder use of fresh spices in cooking was common. My grandpa loved to cook and used to cook aamti—bhat (lentils and rice) almost daily. He was famous for his rassa–bhaji (mixed vegetables in a sauce) within family and friends.
My grandpa’s secret in cooking flavorful meals was his own creation of spice blends. After years of trial and error, he created “Garam Masala” and other spice blends. My grandma loved his spice blend so as rest of the family and friends. They loved it so much that he was the go–to cook in the home and at networking events more so than my grandma.
My childhood memories have lots of fond memories of grandpa making spice blends. I loved his experiments and was one of the taster to provide him feedback. I wish I had the foresight to document his spice recipes. My mom was wise enough to ask my grandpa the secret to his cooking. So when I got married, my mom shared his recipes with me. From that day the spice blends created using these recipes has been my secret to cooking flavorful meals.
You can enjoy the same “Garam Masala” recipe which my family, friends, and now customer’s in Farmer’s market in summer 2018 enjoyed. Send me an email if you are interested.