Recipes vary, but garam masala is India’s ubiquitous spice blend, the pinch that adds flavor to all kinds of dishes. Our Kitchen Coach Chef Preeti Mistry of Juhu Beach Club in Oakland, California, uses this blend in chicken tikka masala. To make sure the spices are extra-fragrant, Preeti toasts them in the oven before grinding.
What to buy: Black cardamom pods are smoked over charcoal—they have an earthy, smoky flavor that gives this spice blend plenty of depth. Read Preeti’s spice-buying tips, with links to online sources.
2 tablespoonscoriander seed
1 tablespooncumin seed
1 tablespoonfennel seed
1 teaspoongreen cardamom pods
5black cardamom pods
1 teaspoonwhole cloves
1 (3-inch) cassia stick
6 dried Kashmiri chiles or arbol chiles
1 tablespoonblack peppercorns
Heat the oven to 350°F and arrange a rack in the middle.
Combine the spices on a rimmed baking sheet and place in the oven. Check after 3 minutes to make sure they aren’t browning. Continue to check their progress, and toast until hot and fragrant but not browned, about 8 minutes. Immediately transfer to a bowl and set aside until cool enough to handle.
Using a coffee grinder dedicated for spices, grind to a fine consistency. Use at once or store in an airtight jar at room temperature for up to 3 days.