Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Spice Trail 1- Kerela Garam Masala Powder

When I met my husband ten years ago my interest and knowledge regarding south Indian food extended only to Dosas and Idlis. And ofcourse the idea that 'the south Indians' use coconut oil in everything they cook. Not very impressive I agree. Here I was a small town girl from UP, my city had only one south Indian joint and I remember how much I loved to eat from there. Me, my little brother and my cousin N (who shall be referred to as MSIC-my sister in Canada, hencforth on this blog) would be treated to Dosas from this place every Saturday. We could never get enough of it and if MSIC is reading this, she must be smiling with nostalgia right now. It was a big deal for us. It is not surprising to me that the first proper, complicated (for me at age 13) dish I learnt to cook was 'Sambhar" , the south Indian version of Dal if you will. I learnt it from MSIC and I wonder if she remembers or even knows this fact about me. She in turn learnt it from the recipe written on the back of the store bought Sambhar powder pack I think.

I think that is when my love affair with spices began. I used to be constantly asking our cook about the various combinations and blends of different spices and would experiment often. Some worked, many didnt. Almost two decades later, I am still not there...for example I am still looking for a 'garam masala' blend which will work for me, I am talking about the one we use in north India. However, am glad to report that as far as my south Indian garam masala is concerned, I have got it! Garam masala and its variations are used across India and even though the basic spices remain same more or less, the combinations could vary from each family to family. Here is my spice blend of Kerela Garam Masala which my mother in law taught me. All quantities are aprroximate. Depending upon the availibility in your area and the cost ofcourse. The use of good quality green Cardamom and Cloves is essential, and they do happen to be expensive in some places. Here's what you will need.

2 tbsp heaped Fennel Seeds (saunf)
1 tsp heaped black Pepper Corns
1 Star Anise
6-8 Green Cardamom
6-8 Cloves
4 1' sticks of Cinnamon
2 tbsp Corriander Seeds (optional, since many families dont use this), I usually like to add this too because I love it's fragrance.

Heat a non stick pan and dry roast all the spices untill fragrant. Refer to the picture below. Do not burn! PS- curry leaf in the pic is just to make it look pretty, not a part of the recipe darling ! :)

Once the spices are roasted, cool and dry grind them in your coffee grinder, to a powder. Store in an air tight jar. The quantity as shown in the first picture is from my personal batch I made earlier and is double of the quantity I have given you today. It yielded me about six tbsp of fine powder.

Any Malayalees in the house? Please feel free to comment and offer any corrections this recipe needs.


  1. Its very informative and effective article. Thanks for sharing your information.
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    1. Thanks Abdul. Please do visit again for more recipes. :)