In celebration of Earth Day, I wanted to feature only vegan recipes on the blog during April. Since homemade garam masala is both easy and vegan, it was a total no-brainer!
When you’re cooking vegan, spices are crucial! You don’t have animal products (such as many fats and salty foods like cheese) to help add to the flavour. You also don’t necessarily have any assurance that pre-packaged spice blends will be vegan! So putting together your own spices is a safe and easy way to spice up your vegan dishes.
Garam masala is commonly used in recipes from India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Nepal, to name only a few places. This homemade garam masala is based on what is typical in India, but you might also find other ingredients if you come across garam masala from elsewhere. Each cuisine gives it its own twist, of course! And in Canada, we’re lucky that Cha’s Organics makes it easy to get our hands on beautiful fair trade spices from Sri Lanka that really make this recipe come to life!
So next time you’re making a savoury dish that needs a little extra depth of flavour, try adding a little of this garam masala! It has a warming, wholesome flavour that especially brings out the flavour of rice and legumes! Not to mention that you can feel good about making a difference with fair trade.
Here’s how you make your own homemade garam masala, so that you know exactly what’s going in your next dish!
Homemade garam masala recipe (spice blend)
- Coffee grinder or mortar and pestle
- 2 tbsp whole cumin seed
- 1 tbsp whole coriander seed
- 1 tbsp whole green cardamom pods (see note)
- 1 tbsp whole black peppercorns (see note)
- 1 tsp whole clove (see note)
- 1-1/4 tsp ground nutmeg (see note)
- 2 tsp ground Ceylon cinnamon (see note)
- In a dry skillet over medium-low heat, place the cumin, coriander, cardamom, peppercorns and cloves. Shake the pan gently but often, moving the spices around so that they don’t burn. When the spices begin to smell fragrant and toasty, remove them from the heat and let them cool.
- Meanwhile, in an airtight container or jar, measure the freshly-grated nutmeg (it will be about 1/3 of a seed) and cinnamon. Set it aside.
- In a coffee or spice grinder, or a mortar and pestle if you prefer to do it by hand, grind the toasted spices to a fine powder. Add to the cinnamon and nutmeg container, cover tightly and shake the container vigorously to blend the spices.
- Keep your homemade garam masala in an airtight container to help it keep its flavour longer, and sprinkle it into your favourite savoury dishes like stews and soups!
- Makes about 1/3 cup dry spice blend. (About 16 servings of 1 teaspoon each.)
- Whole green cardamom pods are often used in Indian cuisine and can be found in some chai blends. Using the whole spice is going to give a better flavour than just the little black seeds, as it’s a milder and more complex flavour. The best pods I’ve found are Cha’s Organics’ whole cardamom.
- Whole black peppercorns are best because they impart a spicier taste when they’re freshly ground. My favourite peppercorns are Cha’s Organics’ whole peppercorns.
- Whole clove is not to be confused with garlic! It’s a spice that comes in little buds and is sometimes used in sweet dishes. You can also find it powdered, but I usually use Cha’s Organics’ whole clove in this recipe and grind it fresh with the other whole spices.
- Ground nutmeg is less pungent than freshly-grated nutmeg, so if you’re grating it fresh, use only about 3/4 teaspoon. I recommend Cha’s Organics nutmeg (whole or ground).
- Ceylon (a.k.a. true) cinnamon is so much better than what most stores sell. Most “cinnamon” in the market is actually a cheaper cousin of cinnamon called cassia. True/Ceylon cinnamon has a more complex and higher-quality flavour, and is identified on the label. The one I recommend is Cha’s Organics’ true cinnamon.
Sometimes, taking the time to make something yourself can make all the difference in a dish! Homemade garam masala is so fresh and aromatic that the process of making it is almost as lovely as eating it! I hope this recipe becomes a staple in your spice rack!
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