Much like 'hot sauce' can cover a wide variety of interpretations, 'garam masala' is a catch-all phrase describing a spice mixture in Indian cooking. There are as many different versions as there are cooks, everyone putting their own spin on the mix. Here's my take on it:
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Step 1: Assemble the Spices
Clockwise around Rim:
- 2 dried red peppers, stemmed
- 6 white cardamom pods
- 6 green cardamom pods
- 3 black cardamom pods
- 1/2 teaspoon ajowan seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon charnushka seeds (also known as nigella or kalonji)
- 1 teaspoon cumin seed
- 1/2 teaspoon fennel seed
- 1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon blade mace
- 1 clove
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg (I used about half of the nutmeg piece in the picture)
- 1/2 inch Ceylon cinnamon stick
- 1/2 inch Sumatran cinnamon stick
- 1/2 teaspoon each pink and black peppercorns
Step 2: Get Toasted
Preheat a pan on medium.
- Once hot, add all of the spices *except* the blade mace and the nutmeg.
- Toast for 90 seconds or so, then dump the mix into a bowl to cool.
- Immediately after dumping, return the chilies, cinnamon, and cardamom pods from the bowl to the stove.
- Toast for another 3-4 minutes, until the chilies start to blacken a little.
- Open the cardamom pods, and add the seeds inside to the spice mix along with the chilies and cinnamon.
Let it cool down completely before grinding.
Step 3: Dry the Chickpeas
Open a 16 oz can of chickpeas, and rinse thoroughly under cold water, agitating by hand. As you mix it up, the skins will begin to come off.
Put down some paper towels in a rimmed sheet tray, and pour out the chickpeas. With more paper towels on top, begin rolling the chickpeas around. This will simultaneously dry them a bit and help remove the skins.
Step 4: Grind and Season
Put the cooled spices into a spice grinder, plus the grated nutmeg and blade mace. Grind until fine.
In a bowl combine:
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon sweet smoked paprika
- 2 tablespoons garam marsala
- Healthy pinch of sea salt.
Step 5: Cook and Eat!
Have a rimmed sheet pan preheated inside a 400 degree F oven. Add the chickpeas, avoiding clumps and multiple layers.
Cook for 20-30 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally. When you pull them out, sprinkle with kosher salt.
They are good finger food, or mixed in with some Greek yogurt.