You cannot imagine any Indian cooking without the “quintessential” Garam Masala! The secret to the popularity of Indian curries lies in the blend of spices that imparts the unforgettable zing to your tastebuds. According to Ayurveda it’s this garam masala that brings all the six rasas (tastes) into a dish to formulate a balanced diet.
The word garam masala is derived from the Hindi language which literally translates as hot spice mix (garam = hot and masala = spice mixture). You will not come across a “fixed” recipe for garam masala in India, the variations are as numerous as the diverse population when you move from North to South and East to West. Every state, every village, every household has their own traditional recipe for garam masala handed to them from generation to generation.
This spice mix is extensively used in all Indian curries, dry subzis (vegetables), and pretty much in any savory dishes. As mentioned earlier the word garam means hot or heat but to know the real meaning behind the word garam we need to look into the wisdom of Ayurveda. The foundation of this ancient healing system lies in the agni (digestive fire).
To keep the digestive agni working optimum, it needs the right kind of warmth and heat and that’s the reason why garam masala was born according to ancient Ayurvedic texts to raise the body temperature which in turn results in increased metabolism. When the digestive fire is not at the optimum warmth and is weakened, digestion become sluggish resulting in accumulation of bodily toxins.
Today, you do get many brands of garam masala powders in any Asian grocery stores, but the best way to enjoy a tasty Indian meal is by making your own home-made garam masala! I have to share this with you all, when I first got married and was helping my mother-in-law in the kitchen I was really shocked to see that their “traditional” garam masala ingredients consisted of 32 spices!!! Yes, no exaggeration here, I really sat one day and counted all the spices that went into this masala! This masala has different kinds of cumin, cardamom, chillies, and so many other things I was not familiar… this endeavor took 2-3 days of rightly dry roasting the various spices in separate skillets to the right temperature. I decided right then and there, I would NOT be continuing this family tradition…but I must admit the curries made with this spice-mix was out of this world and literally finger licking…YUM!!
Today, I want to share with you a very simple garam masala recipe that includes only 5 spices and you can make this in less than 10 mins. I am showing you two ways of doing this both methods will take you less than 10 mins. First one is the easier way of using readymade spice powders and the second one is making it the traditional way of dry roasting the seeds and then making it into a powder form. Both work. Ready to try…
Ayurvedic Garam Masala (easy way)
- 1 tblsp Cumin Powder
- 1/2 tblsp Coriander Powder
- 1/2 tblsp Fennel Powder
- 1/4 tblsp Black Pepper Powder
- 1-2 Bay Leaves (crushed to a fine powder)
Mix all the powders and store it in an air-tight glass container. This lasts for upto 6-8 weeks. To bring out more flavor in your dishes you could lightly dry-roast the spice-mix before adding it to your dish. This is completely optional.
The quality of spices is crucial for making a good garam masala. Most of the spices today are sadly treated with chemicals and unwanted additives and colors to retain their shelf life. To be honest, I never buy my spices from Asian grocery stores anymore. To make sure the spices I use are 100% natural and organic I buy USDA organic quality spice powders from Banyan Botanicals.
Ayurvedic Garam Masala (traditional way)
You can use this spice mixture (garam masala) to enhance your veggie and lentil soups, baked casseroles, and of course curries and stews. It’s best to make garam masala in small batches to keep the potency of the spices. The spice mix stays well in an air-tight glass container in a cool and dark place for upto 6-8 weeks.
During the Roman Empire, spices had become more valuable than gold. For centuries, India was invaded by Moghuls, Christopher Columbus, Vasco De Gama, all just because of the lure for the rich and vast variety of spices with their flavor enhancing and medicinal benefits.
9 Healing Wonders
- Fights disease and builds immunity
- Effective pain killer
- Slows-down aging process
- Promotes weight loss
- Increases ability to absorb vitamins, minerals, and proteins
- Relieves gas, heart burn, and soothes upset stomach
- Lowers blood-sugar levels
- Reduces bloating and aids in detoxification
- Fights bad breath
Because of the abundance of spices available in India, the food is never bland. Every Indian home chooses spices according to the dish that is being made, season, and individual personality. Spices cast a spell by flattering our senses with their vibrant colors, appetizing aromas, and rich taste. Life is dull and dry without the spices, so go ahead and spice up your life!