While the garam masala used in most northern and western Indian cooking might contain everything from coriander and cumin seeds to mustard seeds, the Bengali version, in its most basic form, is made up of cardamom, cinnamon, and cloves. The preparation is simple. We dry-roast a blend of the whole spices to awaken their dormant flavours and powder them—either by hand on in an electric grinder. If stored in an airtight container, the masala can keep for months.
In Bengali cooking, garam masala is used to flavour egg, chicken, mutton, lamb, or beef curries. Along with ghee, it is also used as garnish for several vegetarian preparations (most ghontos and dalnas, khichuri, and panchmishali torkari). This spice is particularly handy if you want to quickly refresh leftovers. Just add a pinch of it (along with a sliver of ghee) to your day-old torkari while reheating, and no one need be any the wiser!
- 7 g cardamom (whole)
- 2 g cloves (whole)
- 2 g cinnamon (whole)
- Measure out the whole spices in the given proportion. You may lightly crush them with a pestle or rolling pin before roasting, if you like.
- Heat a pan on medium-low flame and add the whole spices to the pan.
- Dry-roast them evenly on all sides, stirring continuously, for about 5 minutes. You should be able to smell the fragrance of the garam masala by this point.
- Add the toasted spices to a grinder and blitz them till you have a fine powder. You can also use a mortar and pestle to grind by hand.
- Store the garam masala powder in an airtight container.