Monday, November 17, 2008

Garam Masala

I can't think of a better way to spend a Saturday morning than standing in the middle of my kitchen with the stereo cranked, measuring out spices and roasting, toasting and grinding them, filling the house with the most incredible perfume. But, that's just me. I'm a little nutty that way. Lucky for me, the man I love is also nutty that way, or at least if he isn't, he's perfectly happy to indulge me.

See, our new cookbook Classic Indian Vegetarian and Grain Cooking finally arrived, and we couldn't wait to make an Indian feast, and Saturday was the big day. So we spent the day in the kitchen making ghee and homemade cheese, and chopping ginger and garlic and onions in crazy quantities, making yogurt mint sauce and chic peas with tamarind, roasting eggplant and toasting and grinding spices. That is my idea of a good time, and a good time it was! I couldn't begin to go into detail about all the recipes we enjoyed, but I thought I'd share the process for making garam masala, since I got some nice photos.

First, measure out the spices:

1/4 cup cumin seeds
1/4 cup coriander seeds
1 1/2 T. cardamom seeds (black or green)
2 whole cinnamon sticks, 3 inches long
1 1/2 t. whole cloves
3 T. black peppercorns
4 bay leaves, broken up
1/2 t. ground mace

Next, dry-toast the spices in a big cast iron skillet over medium heat, stirring constantly. You don't want the spices to burn, but you do want them to turn several shades darker, and to begin to give off a very spicy aroma.

Once the roasting process is complete, pour the spices into a bowl and let them cool.

Once completely cool, grind the mixture in small batches in a spice grinder or coffee grinder, and transfer to an airtight container.

Now mind you, this is a crazy large quantity. I don't even know how we're going to begin to use it up, but we'll have fun trying. You could easily cut this recipe in half, or if you're feeling crafty and creative, you could double the recipe and distribute into small jars to decorate and pass out as holiday gifts along with your favorite curry recipe. Or you can do like we're going to do, and get obsessed with seeking out dishes that use this wonderful spice. Whatever you do, enjoy the incredible scent that is sure to permeate the air in your kitchen, and have fun!

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