Garam Masala [Punjabi]
To roast spices, heat an Indian wok (kadhai) or a heavy frying pan, preferably an iron one, for 2 minutes over medium heat. Add the spices and roast over medium heat, stirring and shaking the pan constantly in order to prevent burning. For the first minute or two, nothing will happen – the spices are losing their moisture during this time – and then all of a sudden they will start to brown. This is a crucial period: If you don't watch them carefully and stir them constantly, they will burn almost instantly. As the spices brown they begin to smoke, releasing the sweet fragrance of roasting spices. Roast them until they turn dark brown. Turn down the heat a little if they seem to be browning too fast. The time will depend upon (1) the spice and (2) the amount of spice being roasted in relation to the size of the pan – the larger the surface area of the pan, the faster the spice will brown. In a kadhai, 1/4 cup of coriander seeds will take about 6 minutes, 1/4 cup of cumin seeds will take about 8 minutes, and 1-1/2 cups of the spice mixture garam masala will take about 10 minutes. Take the browned spices out of the pan immediately, and put them into a clean dry bowl to cool completely before using.
To grind spices, put the spices in the jar of a coffee grinder, a spice mill, or an electric blender, and grind them to a fine powder. The food processor is not suitable for grinding a blend of spices of varying hardness and size. It works well for spices that crumble easily, such as roasted cumin seeds.
3 tablespoons (about 20) black, or 2 tablespoons (about 75) green cardamom pods
Break open cardamom pods. Remove seeds, and reserve. Discard the skin. Crush cinnamon with a kitchen mallet or rolling pin to break it into small pieces. Combine all spices, and roast and grind them.
Store in an airtight container in a cool place.
Note: The recipe may be cut in half.
Yield: Makes 1-1/2 cups
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