Literally translated, this means 'hot spices' and it is a blend of a number of roasted and finely ground spices that are designed to bring warmth and aroma. There is no definitive recipe for garam masala, though traditionally it contains a basic mix of cloves, black pepper, cinnamon and cardamom. However the amounts and extra added spices vary from cook to cook and region to region in India, with other flavourings such as fennel, cumin and coriander seeds, nutmeg, mace, bay leaves and chillies finding their way into the blend.
It can also easily be bought ready mixed, though the taste will have less depth of flavour and fragrance than if freshly ground and blended.
Garam masala is a popular spice for adding to meat dishes to give an authentic Indian flavour.
DID YOU KNOW
Though many spices are fried at the beginning of cooking to bring out their unique taste - the special aroma of garam masala can often be more effective when sprinkled on at the end, like a seasoning.