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)
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
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.
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.
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.