Garam Masala literally translates as ‘warm spices’ and is found in nearly every Indian kitchen. Plenty has been written about how to make garam masala at home. Here, we trace its roots and unravel the mystery that surrounds this kitchen essential.
What is garam masala?
The importance of spices in Indian cuisine is well known, it’s our secret sauce really and what makes your taste buds and the rest of your senses come to life. Garam Masala is simply a powdered blend of spices and adds punch to your meat and vegetarian savoury dishes alike. As is the case with most aspects of the subcontinent, the spices that go into making garam masala at home vary with each region.
What is common though is that the spices are roasted and powdered fine before storing them. It is usually added at the very end of the dish, minutes prior to turning the heat off, since that’s when the impact of authentic garam masala is retained to maximum capacity.
Flavour profile of garam masala
Depending on the region and availability of fresh spices, authentic garam masala may have up to 32 spices. Even the simplest garam masala has about 6 spices. The most commonly used spices in home-made garam masala are coriander seeds, mustard seeds, fennel, cumin seeds, bay leaves, star anise, cinnamon, peppercorns, cloves and cardamom.
A well-made and authentic garam masala has an aromatic and flavourful balance of spice, sweet, earthy and a hint of floral undertones. In confluence, they bring depth and complexity to the dishes that they are added to.
Garam Masala and the Ayurveda connect
The role of spices in Ayurveda is widely known. They form the very foundation of Ayurvedic medications. Ayurveda uses many spices to alter long-standing conditions by eliminating metabolic toxins. Spices like cumin, cinnamon and fennel are used as antacids and retain healthy gastric acid needed for proper digestion. In line with this thought, the spices in Garam Masala are known to have properties to speed up the body’s metabolism while keeping your gut flora healthy.
Quality ingredients for superior garam masala
We’ve come a long way from when spices were seasonally procured and sun-dried before they were roasted and hand pounded to make garam masala. With convenience taking precedence over quality, there is no dearth of pre-packaged spices and masalas on the supermarket shelf and unfortunately, one can never be sure of the ingredient quality that has gone into the blend. Hence we give in to what we hope will live up to its promise of safety; without compromising on taste. A recent crackdown by the FSSAI revealed that spices in their powdered form were subject to the highest levels of adulteration and usage of fillers like corn starch and sawdust to make up volumes in the final product. The addition of ‘fillers’ to powdered spices is extremely hard to detect and they can have adverse effects on our health as well; some of them are known to be carcinogenic too.
Buy local, buy direct
Transparency, trustworthiness and stellar service go hand in hand, whatever the product may be. With food products this becomes all the more important – who grows our food, what goes into it and how long does it take for that to reach our homes are important questions to ask our vendors for the collective good health of our families. With lengthy supply chains in supermarkets it is unfortunately not always possible to get easy answers to these questions. The whole #vocalforlocal movement that urges us to get closer to our farmers is driven by the need to shop fresh and locally grown produce. With spices, it is no different. Every product from Sublime House of Tea tells a story – we work with a community of growers based in the estates of the Nilgiris region in South India. While we are focused on getting our teas, spices and honey to as many homes out there, we would also like to keep our gaze steadfast on not compromising quality for widened reach.
A Story of Spice
Garam Masala from the Sublime House of Tea has been one of our leading bestsellers for a while now. They say a product that is top-notch pretty much sells itself and this has been the case for our Garam Masala, which is made entirely from naturally grown, minimally processed spices in Coonoor, Tamil Nadu. Harvested in line with the cycle of nature makes a huge difference to the spices that go into making the garam masala and helps retain its freshness.
A closely guarded family recipe, the Garam Masala from Sublime House of Tea is a family heirloom in some sense. Crafted by Uzma Irfan’s mother-in-law, this spice blend has received a loyal follower base over the years. In her words, this is an attempt to take the culinary legacy forward and share it with those who are looking for authenticity and soul in their cooking.
Here’s what some of our customers have to say about the Garam Masala
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