Garam Masala (India) is the most fragrant & wonderfully aromatic blend of spices used throughout India and the rest of the Indian Subcontinent.
Garam means "hot" or "heating" and masala means "spice blend". The "hot" is not necessarily referring to the kind of heat we find in hot chilies but to the fact that the spices are first toasted then ground. Another explanation we've heard is that the amalgamated effect of the spices in garam masala increases body temperature, a pleasant warm glow you might feel after eating a dish flavored with it. It does however usually include some black pepper and cinnamon or cassia which carry some heat.
Many of the traditional spices used in garam masala are more familiar in the West as spices for desserts or baking: cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, and mace for example. The addition to other spices may include black and/or green cardamom, bay leaves, cumin, coriander, fennel, and possibly caraway. Different regions use different combinations and the blends will also vary from household to household where proportions may vary according to whatever dish it is being used to season.
This special blend of spice is used in a small quantity at the end of cooking or fried in the beginning of cooking to add a subtle flavor to the cooked dish. Please note, garam masala must be added in small quantities, or else it will overpower the dish.
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Fish Braised in Pomegranate Sauce