Masala is a word that often used in Odia cuisine. It literally means a blend of several spices. local influence distinguishes curries from one region to another. So one can say that the characteristic of each curry relies entirely upon the herbs and spices that goes into it. A spice is a dried root, fruit, bark, seed or vegetative substance used in as a food additive for the purpose of flavoring the food.
Inside an odia kitchen you will find several spices or masalas. Jeera (cumin seeds), dhania (coriander seeds), sorisha (mustard seeds), pancha phutana (pancha phoran), methi (fenugreek seeds), pana mahuri (saunf, fennel), posta (khuskhus,poppy seeds), haladi (turmeric powder), sukhila lanka (dried red chilies), gota garam masala, garam masala gunda are named to be few of them. Pancha phutana is a mixture of five seeds which used in tempering dal , fries and curries. It consist of mustard , fenugreek, fennel, nigella or kalonji and cumin seeds. I have seen in my mother adding dry chilli parts to it , for a better taste. And mostly I love the taste and smell of fenugreek seed. The compositions of garam masala differs regionally. Some common ingredients are cloves(lavanga), pepper corns(gol maricha), bay leaves (teja patra), cinnamon (dalchini), green and black cardamom (aleicha), nutmeg (jai phala), star anise( chakra phool). In some places cumin and corainder seeds are also added to enhance the flavor.
Here goes the recipe of garam masala powder, what I use in my kitchen.
GARAM MASALA POWDER:
3 tbsp coriander seeds
3 tbsp cumin seeds.
20 green cardamoms
10 cinnamon sticks(1 inch long).
2 tbsp cloves.
10 blades mace.
10 black cardamom pods.
1tbsp black peppercorns.
4 cinnamon leaves or bay leaves.
1 tbsp fennel seeds.
Heat a dry frying pan and all the spices. Stir them and shake the pan as they start to crackle.
when they smell roasted and aromatic remove the pan from heat and pour the spices onto a plate. Allow to cool.
To grind the spices use a mortar and pestle or a spice mill or a clean coffee grinder.
Happy cooking friends.