Friday, May 08, 2009

My Spice -- Garam Masala, Bhaja Masla & more...


Bengali Garam Masala is actually a very simple mix of 4 spices: Cloves, Cardamom, Cinnamon and Tej Patta. The Tej Patta as I have seen is abandoned many times in favor of the others. My Ma however loved it and used it whenever the recipe called for garam mashla as phoron (i.e. tempering the food by spicing the oil)


Whole Garam masala

She would sun the above spices and in our stainless steel jarred Bajaj Mixer make a dry powder of them and store it as a guro Garam Mashla or as we say in English Garam Masala powder

I take a step ahead and put more stuff in my Garam Masala powder. I also dry roast the spices instead of just sunning them which is the norm. My version is NOT the standard bengali version. The Bengali version usually does not have Red Chilli or Mace


Spices I use to make my Garam masala powder

My Garam Masala Powder

Dry Roast 20 Green Cardamom/Elaichi, 10 Clove/Laung, a 2" stick of cinnamon, 3-4 Dry Red Chilli for the slightest heat, 2-3 small barks of mace/javetri and a small Tej-Patta. Note: What I have here is a Bay Leaf but a small Tej Patta(Indian Bay Leaf) works better. Also you can substitute red chili with black peppercorns. You can dry roast either on the stove top or pop them in the oven at 250F for 5-8 minutes. The roasting is done only to warm the spices which have been lying around for a while. Instead you can sun them and then grind.

Grind to a fine powder in your coffee grinder.

Store in an air-tight container for future use

Lately I have been a sucker for home made spices. I cleared the pantry of all Shan masalas and barring the Kitchen King, Kasoori Methi and Amchoor I have no other store bought spice powder. Oh, wait I have a packet of Deggi Mirch which is used sparingly by us and and indulged on by the nanny.

So anyway without all the Shaan masala I was kind of stranded in no-spice land when I wanted to make a Kofta Pualo some time back. Luckily I remembered the Biryani Masala at Mallugirl's. I love that masala and use it for not only making Biryanis but in various other dishes.


Here is how I make Biryani Masala based on this recipe. I reduce the carraways seeds and increase the fennel as I like the sweetness of fennel and find cararway seeds too spicy. Also I forgo the star anise and add nutmeg powder instead of the whole.

Biryani Masala Powder

Dry Roast 8-10 Green Cardamom/Elaichi, 8-10 Cloves/Laung, 2" stick of cinnamon, 1 small Bay leaf, 5-6 small bark of mace/javethri, 2 tsp of Fennel seeds, 1 tsp of Carraway seeds/Shah Jeera

Put all of the above in a coffee grinder jar along with 1 tsp of nutmeg powder

Grind to a smooth powder and store in an air tight jar

Use this masala for loads of stuff from adding a pinch to your pualo to spicing up the marinade for fish, from adding to biryani to your chicken curry. I use this masala alternately with Garam Masala but when using this, use a smaller quantity.

And then there is the Bhaja Mashla(Roasted Masala) my Ma makes for sprinkling over most chutneys and also in vegetable chops. I had blogged about it here in my Baked Beet Roll recipe. The Bhaja Masala is called so because the spices here are dry roasted and then ground. This spice mix has been blogged about in detail in my later post Bhaja Masla.

Bhaja Mashla

To make this Dry Roast 1 tbsp each of Jeera (Cumin Seeds), Dhania (Corriander seeds), Saunf (Fennel Seeds), 6/7 Laung (cloves) , 6/7 Elaichi (Cardamom), 3/4 TejPata(Bay leaves), an inch & half of cinnamon stick and peppercorns according to desired hotness.Then just dry grind it to a powder. Note: This was last made by my Ma and so measures are approximate

Punjabi Garam Masala

The recipe of Punjabi Garam Masala is from Anita of Mad Tea Party. Original recipe is here. I think her recipe asks for more of the black cardamom but I used about 15. Also I used the seeds and discarded the skin

I did it this way. To make this sun or gently warm on tawa 1 tbsp Cumin seeds, 1/2 tbsp Clove, 1/2 tbsp Peppercorn, a 1" stick of cinnamon, 1 tejpatta and around 15 black cardamom. Dry grind to a powder.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket Check out other spices in this series in the left hand column

This weekend our kitchen floor is getting a makeover and so the kitchen will be closed for weekend. I am shacking up at a friend's place, kids in tow and the friend has promised to make a Patha'r Mangsho'r jhol for lunch tomorrow. She cooks delicious food and you know what I am looking forward to.

Wishing all Moms a Very Happy Mothers Day. There is a Mother Day event going on at Desi Momz Club. All moms, member or not please feel free to contribute.


  1. I just made some garam masala myself, it was a pantry cleaner more than anything else - you name the spice, it's there! I ended up with a kilo or more!

  2. wow thanks for sharing the recipe of masalas...i have never tried making them at home as yet..will def be referring to this post when i make my homemade masalas :)

  3. Bhaja masala is new for me, I make the two other at home. Tell me where did u climb to take the first shot?

  4. making your own moshla seems so romantic...I just pick up a pack from the store

  5. moshla :D so cute!

    I have tons too. We finished a lot when we cleared the pantry/fridge and all that!

  6. I use biryani masala in other dishes too .. gives a new lease to any boring ones.:-)
    First snap ta tulte giye kono oghoton ghote ni toh? ;-p

  7. Hi Sandeepa,
    Thanks for sharing your spice powders in a detailed write up.Nice snaps.loved the 1st one, looks damn good.
    Happy weekend

  8. Happy mother's day to you too. I make the garam masal and bhaja masala. The Biryani masala looks interesting, will try it out.

    By the way, I did the seven day challenge inspired by your blog. Dont know if we lost weight, but did feel good though.

  9. Happy mothers day to you... Clearing off the pantry and making your own masala sounds very good... sometimes my in-laws send me the masala so I work less at the kitchen ;)

  10. Happy mothers day to you too.
    Love the masala i didn't know it was so simple .

  11. I'll give some of these masalas a try. Would be nice to try new flavors from the Bong land. The Biryani masala is calling me.

    Happy mother's day to you!

  12. Lovely post. Home made masalas are the best :-)

  13. The first pic is awesome! Donkaner garam masala use kora ar na use kora eki byapar.. I have not liked any so far, so make my own too. kintu but i still use Shan Sindhi Biryani masala, & the shan Tandoori/tikka. but my hubby likes a more simple biryani masala like u made. I use all masala in everything:-D

  14. Thanks for these Sandeepa, I usually make the powders on the fly. As for Biryani I prefer whole spices to the powdered version.

    Bhaja Mashla, is the one I use regularly which I going to make soon as per your (ma's) way.

  15. Sandeepa, wish you a happy mother's day too and pics all are gorgeous! ...
    hugs and smiles

  16. Happy mothers day .
    I alaways make all my masala by myself . Infact ami to lal Lanka guro use kori na . Whole red chilli mixer-a te bete nei .
    The pictures are looking good .

  17. LOVE that angle in the first picture, San! Am too lazy to amke my own masalas - my mom still sends me mine! :)

    Happy Mommy's day! Hope you were able to put your feet up and relax!

  18. i've cleared out the store-bought crap too. i'll try your version of garam masala the next time i make it. we get amchoor pieces here, which tastes way better when powdered fresh than the pre-powdered version.

  19. Hi Sandeepa,

    Hope you had a wonderful Mother's Day. Kudos for being so brave to go in for renovation in kitchen with work, kids, cooking and blogging, tagged with the apron string.

    Does this Masala venture carry on through the year or just a drive to get out of packed powdered spices? I do not know but other than bhaja masala, posto or shorshe, I have never taken up the spices project.

    In India, the raw spices need to be washed and scrubbed clean, dried(well????) and then ground. I am not too confident of the drying bit, b'coz in case moisture remains, the whole masala will rot.

    However, I still relish the taste of 'bata mashla' in my Mom's kitchen. The taste is awsome, no ground masala can even compete with the same. Hope someday I get a comparable alternative

  20. loved the first click with tej patta,..thnks for shrin awesome masala recipes,..

  21. BWM

    Not Kitchen renovation, only kitchen flooring. It was fun actually, with a day and half well spent at the friend's :)
    The contractors here are much nicer, do very neat, on time work with part clean up so not a big hassle. The husband did the rest of the cleaning and I did not have to do anything at all.

    I usually make the Garam Masala, no cleaning-drying involved and takes just a few mins. After I discovered the Biryani masala, I do that too, it really is great with chicken/mutton, pulao etc.

    The Jeera and Dhania is pretty doable too but that I sometimes lapse :)

    If I had to clean, wash, dry forget it nothing would be ever done :D


    Try this Biryani Masala, if you want follow Shaheen's orig. recipe which calls for star anise and more shajeera. It definitely kicks up biryani flavor by a notch


    Yeah that Sindhi biryani masala was a staple at my home too as was achari and tikka and what not :) The tikka/tandoori is great for grilling though and maybe I will buy one for all the grill sessions


    No climbing and I am not that tall either :)

  22. Thanks for this post. I have made my own garam masala several times, but I wish to make it more often. I like to experiment with different combinations of ingredients.

  23. Lovely pics of Masalas! I have never tried making garam masala by myself.
    Beautiful fabric on the bacground:)
    btw- the necklace I made was my very first attempt in Jewellery making:)
    I could not meet Mandira as she is real busy!


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