Here’s some quick information on a spice that I frequently use in Indian cooking. “Garam masala” is a spice that is simply a ground up combination of several different spices such as clove and black pepper. I would compare this to something like the pumpkin pie spice bottles you can find at grocery stores. You could buy ground cinnamon, ginger, allspice, and nutmeg all separately and combine them yourself to use in pumpkin pie. Or, you could buy pumpkin pie spice.
Although garam masala will taste completely different depending on the region of India it comes from, the one I use has equal parts of the following ingredients. This combination is used in many North Indian dishes (the majority of the Indian dishes on Spicy Spoonful are North Indian). To keep things as fresh as possible, buy whole seeds of each of these ingredients and grind them into a powder.
- Black Pepper
- White Pepper
That said, mainstream brands like Simply Organic and McCormick make garam masala. So go ahead and grab some of this versatile blend of spices or make it yourself. If you’re going to be cooking Indian food, you’ll probably find use for it in several recipes (Yogurt Mint Dip anyone?!).
PS. Find this and other neat tips and tricks on my tips and tricks page