Standard garam masala and its variations are best for meat and poultry dishes, especially those cooked in tomato or onion gravy. It also makes a very good flavoring for spiced bean or lentil soups.
- 2 tbsp black cardamom pods
- 11⁄2 cinnamon sticks
- 1⁄4 cup coriander seeds
- 3 tbsp cumin seeds
- 2 tbsp black peppercorns
- 1 tbsp whole cloves
- 2 tejpat leaves, crumbled
Directions: extract the seeds from the cardamom pods and discard the pods. Break the cinnamon. Dry-roast all the spices over a medium heat—this will most likely take 8–10 minutes. Let the spices cool, then grind them to a powder and sift. The masala will keep in an airtight jar or in a plastic bag in the freezer for 2–3 months.
Gujarati masala: add 1 tbsp sesame seeds, 2 tsp fennel seeds, 1 tsp ajowan seeds, and 3–4 dried hot chile peppers.
Kashmiri masala: use black cumin seeds and green cardamom instead of black, and add 2 blades of mace and 1⁄4 nutmeg, grated.
Punjabi masala: reduce the coriander to 2 tbsp and black cardamom to 1 tbsp. Add 1 tbsp green cardamom pods, 2 tsp fennel seeds, 2 blades of mace, 1 tbsp black cumin seeds, 2 tsp ground ginger, and 1 tbsp dried rose petals.