Many home chefs shy away from exotic cuisines, but you can master any dish with the right ingredients, starting with the right spices. There are as many recipes for the essential Indian spice blend garam masala as there are chefs! This truly exceptional one comes from my friend Prasad Chirnomula, a trailblazing chef and restaurateur in Connecticut whose latest restaurant is Chef Prasad in New Canaan. Prasad’s amazing chicken saag, which uses garam masala, follows.
- 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black peppercorns
- 2 teaspoons coriander seeds
- 3 bay leaves
- 2 teaspoons cloves
- 1 teaspoon green cardamom
- 2 pods wild cardamom if available
- 3 pieces star anise
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Heat a heavy-bottomed pan on medium heat and sauté all the spices, except the cinnamon, until fragrant, about 3 minutes—don’t step away, as they can easily burn. Cool slightly and process in a spice or coffee bean grinder (you may need to do this in two batches). Transfer to a bowl, whisk in the cinnamon, and then funnel into an airtight glass storage jar.
Yields about 1/3 cup