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Garam Masala

Garam masala is a blend of ground spices common in North Indianand other South Asian cuisines. It is used alone or with other seasonings. The word garam refers to intensity of the spices rather than capsaicin content.

Use in specific dishes
The order in which spices are added to food may be very elaborate in some dishes. In the case of the Kashmiri speciality roghan josh, for example, coriander, ginger and chilis are each ground individually, and a garam masala of cloves, cardamom, fennel, chill red or black,mace, cumin, turmeric and nutmeg is separately prepared. The cook tastes the dish carefully to determine the precise moment when the next spice should be added. The order is coriander first, then the ground ginger, then the garam masala, and finally the chilis.

In the chicken dish Murgh Kari (chicken curry) the procedure is also precise. First the chicken is fried and removed from the pan. Onion, garlic and fresh ginger are added to the pan and cooked slowly for 7 to 8 minutes. Next cumin, turmeric, ground coriander, cayenne and fennel seed are added with water and fried for a minute or so. Next tomato concassé is added with cilantro, yoghurt and salt. The chicken is returned to the pan and more water is added. Finally some garam masala is sprinkled on top, the pot is tightly covered and the dish cooks another 20 minutes before serving.


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