Garam masala benefits.

Garam Masala Benefits, Ingredients, Garam Masala Vs Curry Powder

Garam masala, or ‘hot spices’, is used to add flavor and aroma to food. It’s common in the Indian subcontinent, Mauritius and other parts of the world too.

Garam and masala are Hindi words. Garam means hot and masala means spices. The mixture is believed to increase body temperature.

According to Ayurveda, garam masala spices do have a hot potency and increase Pitta dosha in the body. As a result, these properties increase the body’s temperature.

READ MORE: What Ginger Water (Ginger Tea) Can Do For You

Garam Masala Vs Curry Powder… Are they the same?

Garam masala and curry powder are not the same. Their taste and other qualities differ. 

Curry powder contains more turmeric then garam masala and is commonly used in Europe and Western countries. 

Every vicinity has developed their own taste. Garam masala is reminiscent of Indian cuisine, just as five spice powder is reminiscent of Chinese cuisine and herbes de Provence of French cuisine.

Besides adding a good taste and aroma to food, garam masala also has many health benefits. Mostly, the health benefits are related to the digestive system.

Garam Masala Ingredients

Most of the ingredients of garam masala are similar in every region but some ingredients vary.

Regional garam masala recipes have personal taste according to the people of that locale. However there is not any authentic recipe for garam masala. Garam masala is not described in any of the ancient Ayurvedic medical treatises. It was developed by the people and passed on to the next generations.

All the herbs and spices used in garam masala have been described in the ancient Ayurvedic texts. We’ll describe the ingredients of garam masala below.

  • Cumin seeds
  • Coriander seeds
  • Whole black peppercorns.
  • Cinnamon sticks
  • Cloves
  • Small or green cardamom pods
  • Black cardamom pods
  • Mace
  • Bay leaf
  • Dry ginger

These are the most common ingredients of the garam masala. Some ingredients may vary in commercial preparation or due to personal choice while making at home.

Mace is the lacy coating on the nutmeg seed. If you don’t have mace, whole nutmeg can be used in its place.

Garam Masala Variations

Instead of dry ginger, some people choose to add fresh ginger. In some regions, white peppercorns are also added along with the black peppercorns. Like black pepper, white pepper is also made from the seed of pepper fruit. But with white pepper, the dark colored skin has been removed from the seed.

In some regions, fennel seeds, saffron, garlic, fenugreek, mustard seeds and tamarind are also added. But this variation is less common compared to the above mentioned list.

Garam masala is used in various ways depending on the location. It is used in powder form in North India. In South India, it is used as a paste. The paste is generally made using coconut milk or water.

The composition of the garam masala in South Indian and North Indian can vary according to the dish. Commercially made garam masala is a fixed combination of ingredients which can vary from one brand to other. Choose according to their ease or recipe they want to make.

READ MORE: Honey Ginger Remedy For Weight Loss, Immunity, Worms + More

How To Make Garam Masala

When you make garam masala at home, you dry all the spices in the sunlight for three to four days. Since humidity can make spices moist, drying them in the sun will dry them properly and kill off any germs.

Also if there’s any kind of moisture in the spices then the garam masala will not last for long. Also, the powder will become clumpy.

In some regions there is a tradition of dry roasting the spices for the garam masala. Dry roasting can enhance the flavor of some spices but not all spices.

It is everybody’s personal choice either to sun-dry them or roast the spices.

Garam Masala Benefits + Ayurvedic Properties

All the spices or herbs used in garam masala have been described in the Ayurvedic texts. They have numerous benefits. Their effect on the three dosha, their potency and their benefits related to the digestive system will also be described.

Cumin Seeds

The botanical name of cumin seeds is Cuminum cyminum.

  • Cumin seeds are hot in potency.
  • Cumin seeds balance Kapha dosha and Vata dosha and increase Pitta dosha.
  • Cumin seeds are helpful in anorexia. They impart taste in food, improve digestive strength, help in easy digestion of food, are useful in elimination of abdominal air, helpful in abdominal pain, abdominal bloating, indigestion, irritable bowel syndrome, piles, worm infestation and diarrhea.1

Coriander Seeds

The botanical name of coriander is Coriandrum sativum.

  • Coriander seeds are hot in potency.
  • Coriander seeds balance all three dosha.
  • Coriander seeds impart taste to food, increase digestive strength, help in digestion of food, excessive thirst, diarrhea, worm infestation, anorexia, vomiting, abdominal pain and piles.2

Whole Black Pepper

The botanical name of black pepper is Piper nigrum.

  • Black pepper is hot in potency.
  • Black pepper balances Vata dosha and Kapha dosha.
  • Black pepper increases digestive strength and digestion of food, stimulates liver secretions, increases saliva production and is useful in worm infestation. It eliminates excessive abdominal gas, abdominal bloating and pain in the abdomen.3

Cinnamon Sticks

The botanical name of cinnamon is Cinnamomum zeylanicum. However it also has other varieties. But this variety is preferred for making garam masala.

  • Cinnamon is hot in potency.
  • Cinnamon balances Vata dosha and Kapha dosha. It increases Pitta dosha.
  • Cinnamon is helpful in increasing digestive strength, digestion of food, diarrhea. It’s useful in indigestion, eliminates excessive abdominal air, stimulates liver secretions and worm infestation. It is helpful in abdominal pain, irritable bowel syndrome and piles.4

Cloves

The botanical name of clove is Syzygium aromaticum.

  • Clove is cold in potency.
  • Clove balances Kapha dosha and Pitta dosha.
  • Clove is useful in increasing digestive strength, digestion and taste. It increases saliva production, is helpful in dryness of the mouth and foul breath. It eliminates excessive air from the abdomen, helps reduce abdominal bloating and abdominal pain abdomen. It stimulates liver secretions, is useful in anorexia, helpful in acidity, useful in chronic irritable bowel syndrome, nausea and excessive thirst.5

Green Cardamom Pods

The botanical name of green cardamom is Elettaria cardamomum.

  • Cardamom is cold in potency.
  • Cardamom balances all three dosha, Vata dosha, Pitta dosha and Kapha dosha.
  • Cardamom is useful in getting rid of bad breath. It cleanses the mouth, is helpful in nausea and vomiting and excessive thirst. It imparts taste to the food, increases digestive strength, is helpful in digestion, and acts as a mild laxative. It’s helpful in abdominal pain, abdominal bloating and piles.6

Black Cardamom Pods

The botanical name of black cardamom is Amomum subulatum.

  • Black cardamom is hot in potency.
  • It balances Kapha dosha and Vata dosha. It increases Pitta dosha.
  • Black cardamom pods impart taste to food. They increase digestive strength, are useful in digestion of food and helpful in anorexia, nausea and vomiting. They act as a mild laxative, are helpful in excessive thirst, useful in abdominal pain, bloating, liver problems and piles.7

Mace (Nutmeg) 

The botanical name of nutmeg is Myristica fragrans.

  • Nutmeg is hot in potency.
  • It balances Kapha dosha and Vata dosha.
  • Nutmeg is helpful in removing bad breath, imparts taste to food and is useful in increasing digestive strength. It is useful in digestion, stimulates liver secretions, eliminates excessive abdominal air, helpful in diarrhea, useful in worm infestation, useful in irritable bowel syndrome, excessive thirst and vomiting.8

Bay Leaf

The botanical name of bay leaf is Cinnamomum tamala.

  • Bay leaf is hot in potency.
  • It balances Vata dosha and Kapha dosha. It increases Pitta dosha.
  • It is helpful in increasing digestive strength, digestion of food, diarrhea and indigestion. It eliminates excessive abdominal air, stimulates liver secretions and is helpful in diarrhea, worm infestation, abdominal pain, irritable bowel syndrome and piles.4

Dry Ginger

The botanical name of ginger is Zingiber officinale.

  • Dry ginger is hot in potency.
  • It balances Kapha dosha and Vata dosha.
  • It acts as an appetizer, improves taste and is useful in anorexia. It improves digestive strength, eliminates excessive air from the abdomen, abdominal bloating, abdominal pain, piles, nausea and vomiting.9

Garam Masala Research

A study done on mice showed that garam masala has chemo-protective effect.10 Another study showed that garam masala has liver detoxification effects.11 Finally, a study done on humans revealed that people who used garam masala have faster gastric emptying time.12

References

  1. Dravyaguna Vijnana by Aacharya Priyavrat Sharma, Volume 2, page no. 366, 367, Chaukhamba Bharati Academy, 2017.
  2. Dravyaguna Vijnana by Aacharya Priyavrat Sharma, Volume 2, page no. 322, 323, Chaukhamba Bharati Academy, 2017.
  3. Dravyaguna Vijnana by Aacharya Priyavrat Sharma, Volume 2, page no. 364, Chaukhamba Bharati Academy, 2017.
  4. Dravyaguna Vijnana by Aacharya Priyavrat Sharma, Volume 2, page no. 251, 252, Chaukhamba Bharati Academy, 2017.
  5. Dravyaguna Vijnana by Aacharya Priyavrat Sharma, Volume 2, page no. 248, 249, Chaukhamba Bharati Academy, 2017.
  6. Dravyaguna Vijnana by Aacharya Priyavrat Sharma, Volume 2, page no. 720, 721, Chaukhamba Bharati Academy, 2017.
  7. Dravyaguna Vijnana by Aacharya Priyavrat Sharma, Volume 2, page no. 729, 730, Chaukhamba Bharati Academy, 2017.
  8. Dravyaguna Vijnana by Aacharya Priyavrat Sharma, Volume 2, page no. 459, 460, Chaukhamba Bharati Academy, 2017.
  9. Dravyaguna Vijnana by Aacharya Priyavrat Sharma, Volume 2, page no. 333, 334, Chaukhamba Bharati Academy, 2017.
  10. Rao, A R, and S Hashim. “Chemopreventive Action of Oriental Food-Seasoning Spices Mixture Garam Masala on DMBA-Induced Transplacental and Translactational Carcinogenesis in Mice.” Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports., U.S. National Library of Medicine, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7739919.
  11. Singh, A, and A R Rao. “Evaluation of the Modulatory Influence of Food Additive-Garam Masala on Hepatic Detoxication System.” Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports., U.S. National Library of Medicine, Dec. 1992, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1294478.
  12. Kochhar, K P, et al. “Gastro-Intestinal Effects of Indian Spice Mixture (Garam Masala).” Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports., U.S. National Library of Medicine, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10769605.

 

mm
Dr. Alka Sharma, BAMS is an Ayurvedic practitioner and an avid learner of the field. She graduated with a Bachelor of Ayurvedic Medicine and Surgery (BAMS) from Dayanand Ayurvedic College, Jalandhar, Punjab in India. She has been practicing Ayurvedic medicine and doing related work for the last six years. She works as an independent consultant in Ayurveda through online consultancy services. She has a personal app on the Google play store where she consults patients on their health problems following the Ayurveda medical sciences. She additionally has a Masters degree in Business Administration for Health Sciences from Sikkim Manipal University (SMU), India.

Comments

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.