Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Garam Dude -- how to heat things up

In Hindi, Garam Doodh means Hot Milk. Once, I travelled extensively with someone whose first tentatively inquiring words in a dhaba were: "Garam Dudh hai?" This means, "Do you nice people have hot milk?" If they said yes, as inevitably they did, he would order some, and look over at me, Wink and Mooooooo. He was from Wisconsin USA, Home of the Sacred Cow, and after enough instances of this dhaba thing, I'd call him "The Garam Dude".

There is a story of why to drink milk warm, for all you who cannot digest the thing, drink all milk products warm. But I won't go into that one yet.

First, the concept of "warming foods" and how they should be selected, and when and why and for whom and how etcetera etcetera etcetera.

You've heard of Garam Masala, so now you know the Garam means Hot, and the Masala means "A Blend of Spices". It's used to make spicy Indian foods, and sold in Western food stores, often formulated locally as, well, what I refer to as a blatant attempt at cultural genocide.

I am in the MidWest currently, and stopped in to a highly touted health food store in Columbia, MO, and grabbed a couple of starter spice bottles for YAWHCPTNWAC (Yet Another Western Health Care Provider Teaching Nutrition Without A Clue).

I was going for the 6 C's, and saw this formulation for their "Garam" Masala:

Pretty pathetic, I'd say it was Thanda Masala, or rather, Thanda Pandering Masala... everybody knows that real Garam Masala - to warm the consitution - consists of - well if you google you will come across several recipes like this:

½ cup cumin seeds
½ cup ground coriander
½ cup whole black peppercorns
5 teaspoons seeds of black cardamom pods
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground cloves
2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
2 teaspoons black salt
1 ½ teaspoons asafetida powder

Not the real thing either...I found that recipe source came from a Wesbite marketing Indian Culture, and the key person behind it was a Westerner... it seems everyone is copying the frauds.

Here you go, why on earth they left out the critical warming agent: GINGER, is beyond me.

4 tbsps coriander seeds
1 tbsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp black peppercorns
1 ½ tsps black cumin seeds (shahjeera)
1 ½ tsps dry ginger
¾ tsp black cardamom (3-4 large pods approx)
¾ tsp cloves¾ tsp cinnamon (2 X 1” pieces)
¾ tsp crushed bay leaves

PREPARATION:Heat a heavy skillet on a medium flame and gently roast all ingredients (leave cardamom in its pods till later) except the dry ginger, till they turn a few shades darker. Stir occasionally. Do not be tempted to speed up the process by turning up the heat as the spices will burn on the outside and remain raw on the inside. When the spices are roasted turn of the flame and allow them to cool. Once cooled, remove the cardamom seeds from their skins and mix them back with all the other roasted spices. Grind them all together, to a fine powder in a clean, dry coffee grinder. Store in an air-tight container in a cool, dark place.

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