Cookbook Profile

Basic Garam Masala

Makes 1/3 cup


Without a doubt, spices are the most important elements in Indian cooking. Although many Indian spices are available in ordinary grocery aisles, it is worth the effort to seek out authentic, imported versions. In Indian cooking there is no such thing as store-bought "curry powder." Every Indian cook I've worked with agrees that the word "curry" really refers to a method of cooking-slow braising in spices-and not to a spice mixture itself. We do make our freshly ground spice mixtures, called garam masalas, and they will vary according to their uses. These often contain cloves, cumin, cinnamon, cardamon, and others. Garam Masalas are easy to make and keep in small quantities, for whenever they are needed.


1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1/2 tablespoon whole cloves
6 pods black cardamon
12 pods green cardamon
2 (2-inch) pieces cinnamon stick or cassia
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
4 dried, whole red chiles


Grind all the ingredients in a spice grinder or clean coffee grinder until pulverized. It will keep for about a month or two in an airtight jar.


The Bombay Cafe
By Neela Paniz
Ten Speed Press
Paperback, $17.95
272 pages, two-color
ISBN: 0-89815-935-0
Recipe Reprinted by permission.


The Bombay Cafe



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This page created January 1999