Meaning 'warming spice mix', garam masala is the main spice blend used in North Indian cookery. There are many different versions, often dictated by region, but most contain a selection of the following: cassia leaf (if you can't get hold of cassia, try bay leaf), black pepper, cardamom, chilli, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, cumin, fennel, mace and nutmeg. It can be added at the start of cooking, but it's more usual to add it at the end or to sprinkle it over food just before it's served, a little like salt and pepper.
Choose the best
You can find garam masala in Asian shops or the spice aisle in many supermarkets. Toast it in a dry frying pan to release the aromas and enhance the flavour before using.
Store in an airtight container for up to three months – it may loose its pungency if kept for longer, but won't go 'off'. Keep in a dark cupboard in a cool place.
Make your own garam masala using our easy recipe. Sometimes garam masala is added at the end of cooking so the spices retain their freshness. Sprinkle over vegetables before grilling or add a pinch to yogurt for a quick dip.
Spiced broccoli, paneer & peas is a great vegetarian traybake-style main topped with garam masala cashews. Try tossing carrots in garam masala before serving them over a comforting dhal. Or, make a traditional makhani dhal topped with a dusting of garam masala.