Garam from garam (“hot”) and masala (a mixture of spices)
Literally, the name means "hot spice" – although this does not necessarily refer to chilli heat but to the fact that the cooking process involves toasting the spices.
It is also said that the effect of eating garam masala is to gently increase by body temperature, creating a pleasant warm glow. Created through a blend of up to 10 spices, a complex balance of flavours and aromas is essential to good garam masala and indeed to Indian cookery as a whole.
As with many subcontinental foods, garam masala can be bought ready-made from a shop but the home-made version is far superior. The spices must be dry toasted before being ground to achieve the perfect flavour. Many different variations exist, with versions found all over southeast Asia. However, it is most predominant in Northern India and Punjabi cuisine.
How to Make Garam Masala
Simply roast your spices until they become aromatic before grinding them into a fine powder. Be sure to sieve afterwards to produce a smooth texture. You can store your garam masala in an airtight container, for up to 6 months.
Add garam masala ten minutes before the end of cooking for a delicious spicy flavour. Garam masala is appropriate for any dish that needs a warming kick of spices. Many of the recipes on this site will include garam masala as one of their Ingredients. You can experiment with different blends and when you buy different brands each one will have their own distinct flavour.
There is no right and wrong when blending garam masala. Why not try making your own home made version, here's my recipe.