Garam Masala - Bengali
India - Bengal
  -   Garam Masala

The Garam Masala of Bengal is much simpler than those of the Punjab and the rest of northern India. Traditionally, Bengalis leave the ingredients out in the hot sun for a day before grinding, but many younger Bengalis lightly dry toast them as is done in other parts of India. Younger Bengalis may also add other ingredients, particularly dried red chilis, and perhaps mace. Note that the relative proportions of the ingredients are quite variable from household to household. Makes about 5 Tablespoons.


Cinnamon (1)
Cardamom pods (2)
Bay Leaf (3)

Make   -   (15 min)
  1. In a dry skillet, tava or rimmed comal, roast the Cardamom pods, turning almost continuously with a thin stainless turner and shaking the pan. They are done when they darken just a shade. Do the same with the Cloves but just until distinctly aromatic. Cool well before grinding.
  2. Grind all items very fine in a spice grinder. (a whirling blade coffee grinder works very well) and mix together.
  3. Package in an airtight jar. Stored away from sunlight and heat it will will be usable for a couple months.
  1. Cinnamon:   Use real cinnamon if at all possible (for all Indian recipes). American "cinnamon" is actually cassia bark which is thick, hard and sweeter. Real cinnamon can be found in markets selling Mexican herbs and spices - the bark is very thin. Real cinnamon originated in Ceylon (Sri Lanka), cassia in Southeast Asia.
  2. Cardamom Pods, Green:   Some cooks shell out the seeds and discard the pods. If using just seeds, freshly shell them out of pods, they degrade rather rapidly after shelling, so commercial seeds may be a bit stale.
  3. Bay Leaves:   Note that many recipes for Bengali Garam Masala skip the Bay Leaves. If used, these should actually be Tej Patta, the bay leaf of India, but that is very hard to find in North America. They are larger and have a stronger flavor than Mediterranean bay leaves, and a hint of cassia - but there's already plenty of cinnamon in this recipe. Our bay leaves make a suitable substitute. For details see our Laurels page.
  4. U.S. measure: t=teaspoon, T=Tablespoon, c=cup, qt=quart, oz=ounce, #=pound, cl=clove in=inch, ar="as required tt=to taste
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