What is Garam Masala?
Garam Masala is a spice mixture common in India and other South Asian countries like Pakistan and Bangladesh. Spices added to the mixture are rich, bitter, or hot in flavor. Some variants of this spice mixture can contain more than 30 spice ingredients, but the most common variant contain coriander, cinnamon, bay leaves, and green cardamoms. Other spices that may be added to the mixture are cumin, nutmeg, cinnamon, star anise, fennel, black pepper, mace, and chillies.
Garam Masala literally means “hot mixture” in Hindi and may be used alone in various dishes or may also be mixed with other food seasonings. Commonly, this spice mixture is used in small quantities to add flavor to a particular dish as large amounts may be too overwhelming. Some prefer to add the spice mixture after a particular dish is cooked while others use the mixture in the middle of cooking, like in frying dishes.
Garam Masala has different variants depending on people’s tastes. Variations are also noted depending on the region in which it is used. Some have made the spice mixture to suit their own tastes. As in the case of the northern parts of India, less curry is added to the Garam Masala mixture. And in contrast, South India prefers the pungent taste of adding curry to the mix.
Garam Masala in powder form can be found in many grocery outlets worldwide. This provides convenience to those who don’t have the time to look for all the spices and ground them to create the mixture. Many prefer freshly-made Garam Masala mixtures though, as it is said to taste better. Garam Masala has also invaded the kitchens of Western countries and is widely used as a form of marinate or addition to various sauces. Some also use Garam Masala powder as dry rub for a variety of meats.