Garam masala – the most iconic spice blend from the land of culinary melting pot, India.
It is amazing how the spices stirred up the forgotten memories that were seeped deep in astounding flavors, of a time when modernity was not able to cast its shadows on the culinary instincts, when each of the spices were carefully hand-picked from the spice merchants and hand pounded on the stone grinder with utmost precision. Making the perfect spice blend was the forte of few, the masalchis of the royal court and the humble housewives extraordinaire.
Knowledge flows through the lore of bygone stories which were largely centered around the food, an inherent aptitude that runs through the genes and a tradition born slowly through the ages. Thus following the tradition in the same way, year after year without any distinctive changes, this special spice blend of garam masala evolves through time. A flavour that is so distinctive of our culture and visceral to our ancestry.
As the simmering progress the highly enchanting aroma percolates through the thick walls and wafted along the long corridors, jolting the doors of curious neighbours leaving an unspoken invitation for them to cherish the culinary delicacies. Decades later in a very uneventful way the same culinary stories afloat and sense of self-admiration engulfs when you smile remembering those forgotten days basking in the glory of your lineage.
Heirlooms are meant to be treasured and so this special spice blend of garam masala. A trio of most fragrant spices when soaked in water for hours and then ground to a smooth concoction, the bata garam masala or the wet paste is then ready to test the hot smoking mustard oil. The pungency of mustard oil when intermixed with the flavors of spices and is enough to leave you enchanted for long time. Bata garam masala always scores better than the dry ones, a relict of past and how it shaped up the culinary scenario in a Bengali household might be another story for another time. However the quick dry pounding method is more akin to modernity something that makes our lives uncomplicated.
Cardamom from South India, cloves from Malacca and Cassia or cinnamon bark from Ceylon perhaps had exchanged some secret notes when they first met with each other on the Malabar coast – the hub of ancient trade routes, creation of a highly aromatic blend was destined to happen. Historians would argue perhaps that this spice blend of garam masala was an Indo-Islamic import from Central Asia, but then history is written by those who have tasted victory. Just like the way Aryan Invasion theory could not withstand the Genome theory, many such stories need to be retold from a different perspective.
- Cinnamon quills : 20 gm
- Cloves : 20 gm
- Green Cardamom : 15 gm
- Measure the spices by weight and roast them separately on warm griddle for couple of minute.
- Take care not to burn the spices. Keep tossing them.
- Hand pound them on a mortar and pestle or use your coffee grinder or spice grinder to make a smooth powder.
- Pulse them till you get the desired fineness of the spice blend.
This blend of garam masala is highly overpowering, so use it in few pinches as requires.
Bengali garam masala can be used in both veg and non veg dishes.
The proportion of the spice blend is important.
Check the Bengali recipes archive for the dishes where I have used this special Bengali garam masala.