Garam masala – by Andy Varma

11 September 2006
Garam masala – by Andy Varma

This is the "bouquet garni" of all Indian cuisine. Every chef adds his own personal touch to this basic spice mix. All will roast the whole spices first. In the South the blend is ground slowly till it forms a paste. In the North it's beaten to a powder in a mortar and pestle. Varma, from Punjab in the North-west, is happy to use a coffee grinder to blend his own. His version is an adaptation of a classic recipe from Prashad, by J Inder Singh Kalra (Allied).


Whole spices for slow toasting in a pan till fragrant
20g green cardamom
30g black cardamom
20g black peppercorns
40g coriander seeds
140g cumin
Other spices
5 whole cinnamon sticks 20g powdered dried ginger
15g cloves
10g dried bay leaves
20g mace
3 nutmegs, ground


Combine all the spices from both groups and blend to a powder. Store in the dark in a sealed container, unless making small batches regularly. (Varma adds a piece of burning charcoal to the pan when toasting spices to add a hint of smokiness to them.)

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