The aloo-palak I made for dinner a couple of days ago didn’t quite taste the same, and I am inclined to put that down to the fact that I have been using a commercial/packaged garam masala for a while now, instead of the home-made version which I ran out of a couple of weeks ago.
I do keep a packet of store-bought garam masala handy for use when I haven’t yet had the time to grind a fresh batch of this spice mix. But the store-bought variety doesn’t really make the grade, IMO. It lack the richness/fullness of taste that homemade garam masala adds to curries and subzis, and even after months of sitting in a bottle, the latter retains an aroma and a flavor that the store-bought kind just can’t match, even when fresh.
Recipes for garam masala vary in India by region and indeed from one family to another even in the same part of India.
This is how my mother makes it and it is one of those important,basic,essential recipes that I want the girls to find here.
Black Cardamom – 50 gms
Green Cardamom, Cinnamon, Cloves, Black Cumin/Caraway seeds – 10 gms each
Cumin seeds, Black pepper corns, Coriander seeds – 125 gms each (the last is optional since most curries are flavored with some coriander powder as well)
Heat a frying pan/wok to a high temperature. Put in all the spices and roast for 1/2 a minute, stirring every few seconds. Then turn the heat off and
leave the spices in for another minute, turning them over a few times.
Grind everything together to a fairly fine texture and store in an airtight bottle.
This is a very worthwhile task- despite the sneezes it can induce on account of the pepper- because good garam masala makes up the heart of many an Indian curry or subzi, along with the ginger, the garlic, the onions and the tomatoes.