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Indian vegetable or meat dishes often include garam masala for seasoning. In North Indian cuisine, garam masala is usually in powder form, while in the southern part of the country, garam masala is often formed into a paste with coconut milk, vinegar or water. It is made all year round. Garam masala is sometimes used on its own, but it can be mixed with other spices as well.
What Is Garam Masala?
Garam masala is a mixture of ground spices widely used in Indian cuisine. Garam masala spices are usually roasted to impart more flavor and aroma, and then ground.
The word masala simply means ‘spices’, and garam means ‘spicy’. However, Garam Masala does not necessarily constitute a particularly spicy mixture.
The powder form is usually gluten-free, vegan and vegetarian, while you’ll need to check the label for garam masala paste to see what’s included.
Click here to shop for Garam Masala
Varieties of Garam Masala
There is no single recipe for garam masala. Ingredients vary according to the region as well as the individual preferences of each chef.
Garam masala from northern India, including the Punjab region, often contains only black pepper for its hot ingredient and is mostly focused on the aromatic and sweet spice.
The garam masala will be very light, and any heat in the dish will come from adding the chilies.
The farther south you go in India, the garam masala will likely be hotter as the red chillies are likely to be part of the mix. Spices change too, based on what’s more popular locally.
Recipes are not only regional, but passed down through families as well.
Learning to mix spices (to be masalachi) is something to be proud of in India, and every cook strives to make the best garam masala blend.
Garam masala is believed to have originated in North Indian cuisine, where it is especially found in traditional Mughal dishes. In Ayurvedic medicine, the spice in garam masala is warming, which means it increases metabolism (rather than being hot in flavour).
North India has more regions with cool seasons, so warm spices are welcome. Garam masala spread throughout the Indian subcontinent and as far west as present-day Iran.
What Is It Made Of?
If you are buying garam masala, you will need to read the ingredients in order to determine which spices are is included.
Garam masala will usually consist of:
In variations on garam masala, ingredients may include turmeric, saffron, fennel seed, ginger, garlic, mustard seed, allel, star anise, tamarind, fenugreek, bay leaf, malabar leaf, or dried red pepper.
What Does It Taste Like?
Garam masala adds warmth, sweetness, floral notes, and a touch of heat from black pepper. It is meant to be an aromatic and delicious seasoning.
While cumin, coriander, and turmeric may remind you of curry, garam masala is generally not spicy.
Cooking With Garam Masala
Garam masala is usually added near the end of cooking so that it not only spices up the dish but also adds flavor. Some extra garam masala can also be sprinkled over the dish.
Traditionally, garam masala is made fresh from the spice ingredients and used within a few days. It is often not the only seasoning and seasoning used in a dish.
Recipes With Garam Masala
Garam masala is used with many meat and fish dishes. You will also find it in vegetarian and vegan dishes and soups based on legumes and vegetables.
Since garam masala simply means “seasoning with different levels of heat”, you have plenty of leeway when it comes to mixing your own garam masala, or if you need an alternative when preparing an Indian dish.
You can check the ingredient list for any recipe and mix it with the spices you already have on hand. Try varying the garam masala recipe until you find the spice blend you like best.
Where to Buy Garam Masala
You can find Garam Masala in the spice section or the international section of a well-stocked supermarket. Your best source is probably an Indian grocery or an international specialty store.
These stores are also a great place to buy the individual components of Garam masala at a much lower (and likely newer) price than the supermarket. Making your own will with spice ingredients will give you the best flavor.
And you can get it online by clicking this link
Store Garam Masala in an airtight container in a cool, dark place. Ground garam masala will lose its potency very quickly, so it is best to use it as soon as possible.
Aim to use it within a few weeks, although it won’t spoil and you can use it for up to six months. Expect that you will need to use more garam masala in your recipe to get the desired flavor as you get older.
It’s no wonder, then, that garam masala comes with so many powerful health benefits.
Health Benefits Of Garam Masala
1. Helps With Digestion
The traditional idea that garam masala increases “digestive fires” seems to have something to do with it.
It has been proven that cumin, one of the main components of the mixture, enhances the activity of digestive enzymes.
One study concluded that an extract of oregano can be used to treat irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Black pepper, another popular ingredient, has also been found to have beneficial effects on the digestive system.
Furthermore, one study found that eating with garam masala was associated with a faster digestion time in healthy adults.
Bottom line: If you’re having trouble preparing your food, try seasoning it!
2. Provides Strong Antioxidants
Each spice in garam masala by itself contains powerful antioxidants.
When you mix them together, you get a whole new level of potency.
While all components contribute, there are a few that stand out.
The most powerful of them is actually cinnamon.
In a Chinese study from 2005, 26 different spices were analyzed to see which had the most antioxidant activity.
After scientists carefully tested each spice, cinnamon was put at the top of the list.
Other notable examples include cardamom and cloves – both of which have shown exceptional antioxidant potential.
3. Regulates Blood Pressure & Improves Heart Health
Cardamom has shown promising results when it comes to regulating blood pressure levels and improving overall heart health.
Additionally, coriander is known to lower total cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
These are some seriously impressive effects that should not be ignored.
After all, heart disease is still the number one cause of death worldwide.
If we can use food and natural supplements to significantly reduce risk, then we must.
Keep in mind that Garam masala is very affordable and very low in calories.
This makes it a reliable source of heart-healthy compounds that can easily be included in your daily life.
4. Protects Your Nerve System
Garam masala can be beneficial when it comes to preventing Alzheimer’s disease and other neurological diseases.
As mentioned, all the spices commonly used in garam masala are rich in antioxidants.
This is important, because natural antioxidants have been found to protect against neurodegenerative disorders.
The piperine in black pepper has also shown promising results with regard to this problem.
Neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease can be very frightening to think about – especially if you have seen someone close to you suffer from it.
Research continues (as with diabetes, heart disease, and cancer) to suggest that you can significantly reduce your risk by making the right lifestyle and diet choices.
5. Defends Against Diabetes
Diabetes is another major disease afflicting the modern world.
Diabetes is often the result of lifestyle factors, such as cancer.
One of the main risks, of course, is weight gain.
The other big factor is diet – what you are and what you don’t eat on a daily basis.
Research has found that several spices can protect against diabetes.
The most effective of them is cinnamon.
Cinnamon is a common ingredient in many pastries and other desserts.
For this reason, most people do not consider it a blood sugar regulator.
In particular, the spice has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity, which is a good thing (learn about insulin sensitivity here).
Nutmeg has also shown potential in this area.
6. Enhances Nutrient Absorption
Yes, you read that correctly.
Simply adding spices to your meal can increase its overall nutritional value.
Pretty neat, isn’t it?
This can be a huge benefit – especially for those who live in developing countries where food preparation may be unavailable.
So, how does garam masala increase the bioavailability of foods?
It all comes down to one ingredient: black pepper.
Or, more specifically, a compound in black pepper called piperine.
Piperine is what gives the spice its pungent taste.
When added to a meal, it can significantly increase the absorption of minerals and vitamins.
In fact, it has been shown to be so powerful that it can enhance the effects of some medications as well.
7. Fights Oral Bacteria
Could eating spices actually ward off harmful bacteria and help prevent tooth decay?
According to studies, it seems so.
There are several components of Garam masala that have shown potential in this area.
First, there’s the nutmeg.
According to a study from 2006, a compound from nutmeg called macelignan can kill many types of bacteria responsible for tooth decay.
Cloves have also been found to be beneficial when it comes to oral health – to defend against gum diseases such as gingivitis.
Finally, there is cardamom, which has proven to be effective against microorganisms that cause tooth decay.
8. Lowers Cancer Risk
When it comes to the world’s leading killers, cancer is steadily moving up the ranks.
In high-income countries, it is often included in the top 5.
It is perhaps one of the most terrifying diseases known to man – and often involves long and long suffering.
Fortunately, according to studies, most types of cancer are preventable – as they are strongly influenced by various lifestyle factors.
Our daily nutrition is one of the most important factors.
As it turns out, the components of Garam masala are beneficial when it comes to preventing cancer.
Cloves, in particular, have been shown to enhance normal cell function, inhibit tumor growth, and even help control the early stages of lung cancer.
9. Reduces Inflammation
The issue of bodily infections has become an increasing problem in the modern world.
Whether they are subtle and low-grade or sharp and in your face, they can cause some serious damage over time.
In recent years, chronic inflammation has been closely associated with several age-related diseases (“inflammation”).
Certainly, it is often difficult to completely eliminate the sources of inflammation.
However, we can significantly reduce symptoms by adopting a healthy lifestyle and diet.
The cardamom present in garam masala has been shown to reduce inflammation in the body.
How to store masala powder for a long time?
Masalas don’t stay the same forever as they lose their fragrance, essence, quality if it is not stored properly but usually the whole spices stay longer when compared to the ground spices.
Indian cuisine is famous for the wide variety of spices used in it. Its flavors and aroma have been recognized since ancient times. The use of essential masalas such as turmeric and cloves is as old as human civilization because they have medicinal value.
India is blessed with having the right environment and land to grow a variety of spices and export them all over the world. Even the simple dish we eat daily contains basic masalas like salt, chili powder and turmeric.
Indian spices include turmeric, coriander, garam masala, cinnamon, cumin, fenugreek, asafoetida, bay leaf powder, black pepper, mustard seeds, etc.
When this spice is ground fine, it is called masala in India. Either they are used individually or a little bit of the masala is used as a mixture.
Earlier, our ancestors used spices fresh from the fields, made them into a powder, and used them in food every time they had to cook, the best thing ever because it was organic from home gardens hence no preservatives.
Even today there are people in villages who do the same and hence their health is well kept and their immunity strong but for people in big cities it becomes a bit time consuming and therefore majority of them prefer to make powder and store in jars till it becomes easy.
Below are some tips with which the masala powders can stay for a longer time:
1. Use the Right Container: Storing your masala in the proper container is a crucial step in preserving aroma, quality, and for a longer time. Various types of jars are available but it is always recommended to store them in glass/opaque jars. While you may feel like stocking multi-colored boxes that match your kitchen decor, you don’t want to struggle every day looking for masala preserved in any box. To make it easier, it is best to use opaque, airtight jars such as glass, metal, and jars.
2. Choose an ideal place to store: The place where you store the masala is also very important because the main goal is to keep it longer and we don’t want it to spoil because it wastes all our time and energy easily. The best place to store masala is a cool, dark place where it is not exposed to direct sunlight or moisture. Make sure the shelf you are storing the masala on is not directly above the stove as steam and moisture can affect the quality of the masala.
3. Avoid using wet spoons: The slightest mistake in using wet spoons to take the masala out of the box or measuring can spoil the entire lot. When we say that it should not be exposed to moisture, we mean the wet spoon drop. So even if you are in a hurry, be sure to use a dry spoon, or if the spoon is washed, wipe it with a dry cloth and then use it because just a few seconds of ignorance can cost you a lot.
4. Storing it in the fridge: Since the fridge is dark and cool, it is also an ideal place to store masala and thus there is no problem in freezing it. If you have purchased masala in larger quantities it is better to store it in the refrigerator, at the same time if you want to use the masala on a daily basis avoid freezing it because it will be exposed to air and moisture continuously which may lead to spoilage.
5. Know when to dispose of it: While it is important to know how to store your masala, it is also important to know when to dispose of it. To do this, you can do a quick smell test. If you feel the fragrance is not what it was when you purchased it, it is time to empty the container and refill it with new masala powder as it will not add flavor to your dish hence it is always best to store it in small quantities and refill it when needed.