Month of September: “660 Curries” Recipe: Punjabi Garam Masala

“What is stronger than the human heart which shatters over and over and still lives.” Rupi Kaur

Garam masala is a familiar spice we have heard of before. Garam, I learned means “warm” and masala means “blend”; hence, a warm spice blend. This recipe is labeled a Punjabi style which means it comes from the northern region of India; however garam masala is prepared in other portions across the country as well. It is very simple to make by toasting, cooling and grinding spices to elicit a complex and rich aromatic flavor. How fascinating life is where one can take whole things and grind them up to produce something totally different. Kind of like our hearts that can get broken over and over and over yet it still hopes, it still laughs, it still loves. It sounds so cliche but this resilience truly is miraculous. It has been an emotionally difficult week for me, letting in new realities of loved ones, sinking ever deeper in the knowledge that we all have our limits. But why do mine always feel less than others? Why do my limits feel limitless and others so rigid and fixed when an injury happens once or twice? I am too forgiving, just like Abby was. She would know exactly what I am talking about. I understood her garam masala and she understood mine, like no one else ever has.

Ingredients: 1 tablespoon coriander seeds, 1 teaspoon cumin seeds, 1 teaspoon whole cloves, 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns, 1/2 teaspoon of cardamom seeds (from black pods), 3 cinnamon sticks broken into smaller pieces, 3 bay leaves dried or fresh.

  1. Preheat a small skillet over medium high heat. Add all the ingredients and toast for about 1-2 minutes until mixture is highly fragrant. Remove from skillet and cool on a plate. (If they remain in the skillet they may burn making them bitter and unpalatable.) Once they are cool to the touch, grind in a spice grinder. (If you don’t allow them to cool the ground blend will acquire unwanted moisture from the heat, making the final blend slightly “cakey”. The ground blend will be reddish brown and the aroma will be sweet and complex, very different from that of the pre-toasted and post-toasted whole spices.

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