This easy-to-make spice blend is the heart of most Pakistani dishes. A combination of different spices, it probably has as many recipes as there are families in Pakistan! Here is a basic one. Once you get a feel for the taste it gives your cooking, experiment and alter it to suit your needs.
Garam masala is best made fresh just before you begin cooking, but if you haven’t got the patience like me! make a batch ahead and store for several weeks in an air-tight container in a cool, dark place.
4 tbsp coriander seeds
2 tbsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp black peppercorns
1 ½ tsp caraway seeds (shahzeera)
1 ½ tsp dry ginger
¾ tsp black cardamom (3-4 large pods approx)
¾ tsp cloves
¾ tsp cinnamon (2 X 1" pieces)
¾ tsp crushed bay leaves
Heat a heavy skillet on a medium flame and gently roast all ingredients (leave cardamom in its pods till later) except the dry ginger, till they turn a few shades darker. Stir occasionally. Do not be tempted to speed up the process by turning up the heat as the spices will burn on the outside and remain raw on the inside.
When the spices are roasted turn off the heat and allow them to cool.
Once cooled, remove the cardamom seeds from their skins and mix them back with all the other roasted spices.
Grind them all together, to a fine powder in a clean, dry spice grinder.
Store in an air-tight container in a cool, dark place.