Sort the peppercorns, coriander seeds (dhania), caraway seeds (jivan), cloves, cumin, and remove the skin from the cardomoms. Mix together, and grind fairly finely (not powdery) in a coffee grinder. Mix in the previously grond cinnamon, and keep the garam masal in an air tight jar.
For those uninitiated to the virtues of garam masala ("hot mixture" in Hindi), this combination of spices has been featured in countless curried dishes for millenia. It is the most versatile and ubiquitous of all the masalas. It is used to support and bridge flavors in foods, and is an indispensable part of the traditional Indian burn. It is also immensely fragrant and aromatic. Ready to use garam masala IS available through any Indian grocer, but the taste of freshly ground home-made masala is well worth an extra 15 minutes in the kitchen.
Masalas, as mentioned in a previous post, come in hundreds of different varieties, and are used to season meat, rice, fish, potatoes, pasta, or any curry. They can be sweet, sour, pungent, hot or any combination thereof. The are GREAT complements to chiles, and are often meant implicitly to be used with them, as is the case with garam masala. Try experimenting with some in a favorite dish today!
Yield: About 1/4 cup
Origin: Appeared in Molly O'Neill's food column in New York Times Magazine on January 26, 1997.
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