What Makes Garam Masala The King Of Flavours And A Kitchen Essential

All that you need to know about this unique spice blend in five points

Mohini Mehrotra Published Jun 11, 2020 18:44:00 IST
What Makes Garam Masala The King Of Flavours And A Kitchen Essential Photo: Shutterstock

You can’t do without this quintessential Indian spice mix—just a pinch of it can turn a good dish into a great preparation, in a matter of seconds. Here’s a look at five interesting nuggets about your favourite flavouring:

1. While some say that garam masala can comprise as many as 32 spices, more often, it includes at least six of them. Made by dry roasting and then grinding spices such as coriander seeds, cumin seeds, black peppercorns, star anise, cloves, cinnamon stick, nutmeg, green cardamom, fennel seeds and bay leaf, this mix is stored in air-tight jars and used in a variety of vegetarian and meat preparations.

2. Many Indian households have their own traditional recipe for garam masala, handed down to them from their previous generation. Some garam masala recipes differ from state to state. The Coorg garam masala, for instance, includes mustard seeds which are not commonly used in the North Indian garam masala recipes.

3. Aromatic and with an incredible flavour profile—the slight sweetness of cinnamon and star anise, the musky flavour of cumin, the earthiness and warmth of nutmeg, the heat from peppercorns, all combined—this spice mix is a palate enhancer.

4. In traditional medicine, all the spices used in a garam masala mix are known to have health benefits. For instance, cumin seeds are used to treat digestive disorders. Pepper has antioxidant properties, while cardamom has antibacterial properties and works well as a breath freshener too. A combination of these and other health-boosting spices and herbs makes garam masala a power-packed mix.

5. This spice blend has become so popular that it’s now available at supermarkets and grocery stores across the world. It is slowly finding its way into cuisines other than Indian. As food writer Monica Bhide puts it in her column on npr.org, “Recently, chefs have started adding garam masala to marinades, salad dressings and other dishes. I always add it to my vegetable sautes, and a touch works wonders in soups and stews. I have even used it to season the flour when baking bread.”


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