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Indian Spices: Aromatic Garam Masala Spices


Indian Spice Ingredients For Cooking - The Art Of Using Indian Spices.

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 IN INDIAN COOKING 
Part 2. AROMATIC INDIAN SPICES
Part 3 - HERBAL INFUSIONS,SWEETNERS MORE  

Part 2 - Aromatic Or Secondary Indian Spices are also called Garam Masala.

These spices are added on occassions to enhance the basic Indian spices - Indian may or may not add these spices to our dishes

Dried Ginger Powder (adrak, or sont) is again a basic but not essential Indian spice. Used mainly in North India
 
Green Cardamom Pods (eliachi)
- A secondary and not essential Indian spice. Used throughout India
- both in North and South Cooking. Used for its strong but very pleasing flavor. - One of the spices in Garam masala
- Cardamom is an expensive spice
- Used to flavor curries, masala chai and certain vegetables and Indian desserts

Black cardamom (kala eliachi)
- A secondary and not essential Indian spice. Used in North Indian Cooking. Used for its mellow and warm flavor
- This larger dark brown variety is used flavoring meat, poultry and rice dishes. The inner seeds are often used for making Garam masala.

Black Peppercorns
Adds a smoky heat to Indian dishes. native to Kerala Inda this spice is now a world favorite

Cinnamon (dalchini)
- A secondary and not essential Indian spice. Used throughout India - both in North and South Cooking.
- Used for its sweet and pleasing flavor. It is the bark of the cinnamon tree
- One of the spices in Garam masala
- Used to flavor curries, masala chai and certain vegetables and Indian desserts
 
Cloves (lavang or laung)
- A secondary and not essential Indian spice. Used throughout India
- 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

Nutmeg
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 grind small quantities at home using a coffee mill. 
- Used to flavor curries, masala chai, coffee and certain vegetables and Indian desserts

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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© Kavita Mehta
photo credit Kavita and Vinay Mehta

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