Another year, another excuse to rustle up a garam masala. This year, a heavy lean on the aniseed flavours: star anise, cinnamon, chillis, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, black peppercorns, bay leaves, a whole nutmeg all roasted in a low oven until aromatic. Blitz to dust.
Or Gary Masala, as I call it in my kitchen (ho ho). It’s a Hindi expression, meaning “hot paste” although I have heard other translations. It’s a blend of ground spices that are the cornerstone of the Indian kitchen.
Contents vary from cook to cook, from family to family; as a clueless Essex boy I have taken a ‘greatest hits’ from others I’ve heard about. I’ve made mine with: cinnamon sticks, cumin seeds, black peppercorns, nutmeg, mustard seeds, bay leaves and coriander seeds (all spices should be used in their whole unground form for maximum aroma). I lay them all out on a baking tray and put them in a mildly warm oven (about 140C) for about 45 mins. This can be done in a dry frying pan but I find the papery dryness from the oven lends itself better to crushing without gaining a scorched taint. The great side-effect of this is your kitchen is filled with a powerful aromatic perfume. Then comes the crushing: I don’t have a spice mill capable of this so it’s down to the good old pestle and mortar for me. I then store it in an old Schwarz spice pot.
The possibilities of this are great – I have a recipe coming up for this later this week…