Sunday Spice

I’ve been making a version of chicken masala on a regular basis lately, but hadn’t had time to drive out to the southwest part of Houston to purchase pre-ground garam masala powder. Today, I still didn’t feel up to the drive out 59, but made it as far as the bulk spice section at Central Market.

While grocery shopping on Sunday is never fun, Central Market really is a special kind of torture. (At least we’re not Austin (something I find myself saying all the time about Houston), as their original Central Market claims to be one of the town’s biggest tourist draws.)

Fortunately, my super hero power is rock star parking, so I scored a sweet spot. Most of the Sunday food-gawkers were stalled in the coffee aisle, so the spice aisle was manageable.

I had measured about 3/4 of what I needed when I saw, on the top shelf, a proprietary mix of garam masala spices. Curses! It was empty, however, so my work was not in vain. I came home and dumped it all in the frying pan:

From left to right, more or less:

  • 1 TBS. rose hips
  • tsp. dried chili pepper (I went with powder, not the actual dried chili, which I think you could use if you wanted more kick)
  • 1/4 c. cumin seeds
  • 1-inch piece of cinnamon stick, pulled apart and broken up
  • 2 bay leaves, crumbled a bit
  • 2 tsp. whole cloves
  • 1 TBS. black peppercorns
  • 1/3 c. coriander seeds (those are the light brown balls)
  • 1 TBS. green cardamom pods

Heated them for about 4 minutes in a hot, dry skillet, stirring the whole time, then put them in the spice grinder. I added about 1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg, then let the spice grinder have at it.

This recipe yielded about a jam jar’s worth of garam masala. Photos of spice powders don’t look as enticing as photos of pre-ground spices, but here’s a shot of about a tablespoon of the final product:

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