From my sister – thanks again, K!
You need: 2 bay leaves (tej patta), 1 black cardomam (badi elaichi), 2 sticks cinnamon (dalchini), 4-5 peppercorns (sabut kali mirch); 2 dried red chilies (lal mirch); 4-5 cloves (laung); 1 tsp cumin (jeera)
How to: Dry-grind everything together into as fine a powder as you can. It’s best if made fresh each time you need to use it.
I have recently started grinding my own masalas and podis in a coffee grinder, and I find it works exceedingly well. Everything is much more flavorful than when I use pre-packaged masalas. I’m trying to collect recipes for masalas and podis, and will blog them as and when I get them.A simple one that I have taken to using in lieu of garam masala, though, is this:
You need: 1 tbsp jeera (cumin seed); 1 tbsp dhania dana (coriander seed); 2 dried red chilies.
How to: Put it all in a coffee grinder and grind to a fine powder.
You could roast all of them before grinding – briefly, in a hot pan with no oil. I can’t because grinding roasted jeera activates my migraines, and I have not quite found an extreme difference in flavor. I think heat certainly activates the flavor, but it’s not worth the headache to me, so I don’t bother.
When you use this, be sure to add some haldi to the mix. It’s not garam masala, which is actually much fancier, but it’s got a nice flavor and smell and is fresh.
Here’s something I do like. Greens (spinach, kale, mustard greens, whatever) Indian-style.
You need: a bunch of greens (wash well!); one tomato, diced; one onion, finely chopped; mustard seeds, cumin, cayenne pepper (red chili powder – this is not the same as the stuff you get here to flavor chili with) to taste; salt to taste; 1/4 tsp turmeric.
Heat some oil, add the mustard and cumin, let it sputter, add the onions, let them fry a bit. Add the tomatoes and other spices. Add the greens and stir well. Cover and let cook till the greens are done.