Indian Spices and Garam Masala in Indian Cooking - The Art Of Using Aromatic Spices
If you love Indian spices, the magic just may be the garam masala a mix of fragrant, aromatic, flavor-enhancing garam masala. Used in curries, in Chai Tea, tandoori chicken are a mix of roasted ground spices commonly used in Indian cooking. There are many versions of garam masala using different spices like cloves, cardamom, black cardamom, whole peppercorns and cinnamon. Every region in India, from Kashmir to Kerala, every sub area, every family, every cook within every house is proud of their version of this warming blend of spices. Garam Masala and its exotic flavors is essential to traditional and classic Indian cooking.
Garam Masala are spices are added in dishes to enhance the basic Indian spices - However in many dishes Indians may or may not add these spices to our dishes
Aromatic Or Secondary Indian Spices.
Dried Ginger Powder (adrak, or sont) is again a basic but not essential Indian spice. Used mainly in North India
Green Cardamom Pods (eliachi - Spice)
Green caedamom can is also called Indian vanilla and is as sublime in taste as vanilla and saffron. In face one can combine all 3 tastes in one dish. Also like saffron it may be used in both sweet and savory dishes. Just like Vanilla and saffron cardamom is an expensive spice. Cardamom is aromatic and pleasant tasting. Cardamom is used in many Indian curries and in sweet dishes like kheer, payasam, halwa, shrikhand and in mithai. It may also be added to mango lassi. It is an essential part of the Indian Garam Masala- both in North and South Cooking. Used for its strong but very pleasing flavor.
Black cardamom (kala eliachi- Spice)
Black cardamom is aromatic, mustyand earthy and mellow in taste. It is large and brown and has a distinct bark look and aroma to it. It is one of the most exciting spice flavor to use in red meats. Black cardamom , however, is never used in sweet dishes unlike green cardamom. . It is used to flavor meat, poultry and rice dishes. The inner seeds is sometimes used to make Garam masala in Kashmir and Punjab.
Grown in South India, Indonesia and Sri Lanka it is one of the most popular spice throughout the world. It has a sweet and pleasing flavor. It is the bark of the cinnamon tree, Used to flavor curries, masala chai and certain vegetables and Indian desserts. It is an essential part of the Indian Garam Masala- both in North and South Cooking.
Cloves (lavang or laung)
This is one of the most beautiful spice and we recommend all pantry to stock this along with cinnamon. Add a few to any savory dish and let its flavor pop without overwhelming the main ingredient. It ihas a strong and distict flavor but is a supporting spice taking the main ingredient to another level of taste. It is best to grind small quantities at home using a coffee mill or use whole cloves. Used to flavor rice, curries and vegetables
- both in North and South Cooking. Used for its pleasing flavor. One of the spices in Garam masala
- It is best to grind small quantities at home using a coffee mill. Used to flavor curries, masala chai and certain vegetables
Mace (jaivitri) - A secondary and not essential Indian spice. Used throughout India
- both in North and South Cooking. Used for its warm and pleasing flavor
- One of the spices in Garam masala
- It is best to use the blades whole and remove them after cooking
- Used to flavor curries, masala chai and certain vegetables and Indian desserts available whole or ground
Garam Masala Powder
Powdered blend of spices that may include cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, black peppercorns, nutmeg, mace.
- garam means "hot", but not chili hot, hot in the sense that these spices are said to increase body temperature. Interestingly, many of these spices are used in deserts in western cooking (i.e. cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, and mace)
- different regions use different mixtures (masalas) and proportions. Garam masala will also vary from household to household.
- powdered garam masala is often added at the end of cooking in small quantities whole garam masala is used in north Indian cooking, especially meat dishes.
- A whole garam masala could include whole cinnamon sticks, bay leaves, cloves, cardamom (black or green), whole mace, and black peppercorns.
- Often these are fried in hot oil before other wet ingredients such as meat, onions, garlic, and/or ginger are added. Cooking with these spices release a wonderful botanical odor that fills your house and neighborhood.
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Indians spice their dishes in layers harmoniously blending subtle spices with aromatic ones and layering it with herbs, ginger, garlic and lime juice or tamarind. For practical purposes cooking with Indian spices could be divided into 3 stages. The Dance of Spices In Indian Cooking Is The Following:
Part 1. BASIC OR ESSENTIAL INDIAN SPICES
Part 2. AROMATIC, SECONDARY GARAM MASALA SPICES
Part 3 - HERBAL INFUSIONS,SWEETNERS MORE
© Kavita Mehta
photo credit Kavita and Vinay Mehta