How to Make Garam Masala

Garam masala is a hot blend of spices in Hindi. It is a mixture of ground spices used in Indian curries, usually mixing cinnamon, roasted cumin, cloves, nutmeg and (at times) dried red chile peppers. As ready made garam masala cannot retain its aroma for long, people normally make their own. This is the method of preparing fresh garam masala before preparing any Indian dish.

· 1 tsp whole cloves
· 3 - 4 bay leaves
· 2 green cardamom pods
· 4 black cardamom pods
· 12 black peppercorns
· 1/2 freshly grated nutmegs
· 6-7cm acacia bark; for a woody, bittersweet flavor. They are easily available in Asian supermarkets, but if you can't get them, use cinnamon sticks. They will give a sweeter taste, but not much flavor as the acacia bark.

1. Using the back of a spoon or spatula, crush 4 black and 2 green cardamom pods till they separate. Remove the seeds from the pods and throw away the empty pods.

2. Grate 1/2 fresh nutmeg cloves, just enough to get a tablespoon.

3. Heat a non-stick frying pan on low to medium heat. Put 1 tsp of whole cloves, 3-4 bay leaves, seeds of 2 green and 4 black cardamoms, 12 black peppercorns and split up the acacia bark into the pan.

4. Stir for around 30 seconds to release the aromas of the spices.

5. Take off the pan from the heat, and put in the grated nutmeg. The nutmeg will burn quickly if the pan is very hot, as it is already powdered. Stir slowly and regularly to prevent charring. The nutmeg will start turning brown.

6. Pour contents of the pan into a spice grinder or a mortar and pestle or a clean coffee grinder (if spice grinder is not available). However a spice grinder will offer higher consistency and texture.

7. Make a nice, smooth powder by grinding the mixture.

8. Find out if the spices are totally fully ground after grinding for nearly 30 seconds. If not, repeat the process till you get a fine powder.

9. Store the freshly prepared garam masala in an airtight container, so that it remains fresh for 3-6 months.

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