Garam masala is the name for the classic Indian spice mixture whose name is misused almost as much as the name "curry" is misused.  I find that most of the time, when recipes call for garam masala it refers to a special house blend of common roasted Indian spices.  Yes, you can make your very own and customize it to suit your taste.  Usually, I do not take the trouble to make garam masala ahead of time and I end up just adding some of the spices right at the time of cooking.  But you can give it a try…. Ingredients for my blend of garam masala: ¼ cup whole cloves ½ cup cardamom pods (green or black) ¼ cup cumin seeds ¼ whole black peppercorns 4-5 fat cinnamon sticks, about 2-3 inches long First you will have to break open the cardamom pods and get the seeds out and discard the pods.  I use the flat side of a large carving knife and smack the pods to break them.  Be careful with the knife using this method!  Place the cardamom seeds and all the other ingredients into a heavy skillet and dry fry them on medium heat for a few minutes using no oil.  You have to stir the spices nearly constantly and watch carefully so that the spices roast completely through without burning.  If your kitchen starts to smell wonderfully you know you are nearly done. Let the mixture cool and then grind everything to a fine powder.  You can use many different methods of grinding depending on what equipment you have.  You can use a spice grinder or a coffee mill (very clean!) or a mortar and pestle.  Or finally, you can try placing the mixture in a plastic bag and crushing the spices with a rolling pin. This makes a large amount of garam masala, but it is meant to be stored for weeks on the shelf or for months in the refrigerator.  Use it as it is called for in your Indian food recipes.  As I said, I usually do not go to all this trouble, but you have to try it once to see how you like the results.  You can also buy garam masala pre-made in many grocery stores or at plenty of online sources. You can also customize your version of garam masala by adding things like: Dried ginger Bay leaf Nutmeg (whole, crushed) Mustard seeds (crushed) Fenugreek seeds (crushed)
Garam Masala
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