Spices were probably medicine before they were ingredients in our food. Most spices are rich in vitamins and minerals, and many, including most of the spices in Garam Masala, have health benefits like improving memory, reducing inflammation, aiding digestion, relieving pain, and improve heart health. Besides that, the right spices can make an ordinary meal into something really special.
Garam Masala is not curry powder. In fact, curry powder is not an Indian ingredient at all, but originated in the West, in imitation of Garam Masala. This spice mixture is a combination of several spices, but there is no “official” recipe. Every Indian chef, every region in India, perhaps every Indian family has their own way of putting different spices together to create just the taste they desire.
Garam Masala is the foundation of many Indian dishes, like Butter Chicken. Translated, Garam means (roughly) “heating the body”. Masala simply means a combination or mixture. This does not mean that Garam Masala is “hot” in the way that Jalapeno peppers are hot, but that it warms the body in an Ayurvedic sense. It also adds amazing flavor. Sometimes age and dementia can dull the taste buds; this might be just the thing to make food interesting again.
Gamam Masala is becoming increasingly available in grocery stores. On the other hand, it is easy to make, and freshly made gives it an even more amazing flavor. The recipe presented here is a good place to start. It is certainly authentic, and can be incorporated in many dishes to add authentic Indian flavor. This recipe suggests gently roasting most of the ingredients before grinding, but there are non-roasted versions, and that step is optional. Once you have experienced this basic mixture, you might want to experiment. Add “heat”, for example, or use less cumin.
Some of these spice might be difficult to find at the grocery store, but all are available at various online stores. We recommend Spicely Organics.