A certain smell can instantly bring me back to a singular moment, or a period of time. I may someday think back to this time of my life when I smell Garam Masala, a spice blend I’ve been trying out often these days–in Tikka Masala, on roasted chicken, mixed in vegetables and in a sauce for fish.
When my father-in-law was visiting recently, we cooked together so much with Garam Masala that he needed to stash a jar of it in his suitcase for continued use back in Michigan. Especially in colder seasons when I don’t have my fresh garden herbs, I’m always looking for dried spices that are different and can add a new kick to a recipe.
Garam Masala, most common in North India, literally means “hot spice” but it doesn’t deliver a burning heat like tabasco or red chiles. It has a smoky, complex exotic flavor and usually combines cumin, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, black pepper, coriander and sometimes saffron. I’m working on my own recipe, which involves grinding whole spices and toasting them, which I will post. In the meantime, you can buy a good blend from Frontier at Whole Foods or www.frontiercoop.com.