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Author Topic: Curry powder vs Garam Masala  (Read 643 times)

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Offline bhamcurry

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Curry powder vs Garam Masala
« on: March 25, 2019, 09:17 PM »
for many years I have been under the impression that curry powder and garam masala were basically the same thing.

Thanks to all the posts here, and the recipes for each, it seems to me that curry powder and garam masala are linked, but totally independent spice blends. Curry powder is the "chef's spice" mix, garam masala is the "finishing spice blend" put in just minutes before serving to freshen up the aromas and flavours just before the food hits your mouth.

Have I completely misunderstood the role of CP vs GM, or am I onto something....?

Offline Peripatetic Phil

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Re: Curry powder vs Garam Masala
« Reply #1 on: March 26, 2019, 12:05 AM »
Ignoring garam masala, which I think you now understand completely, "curry powder" is not ' the "chef's spice" mix' but rather just one ingredient thereof.  Curry powder is a commercial product, whilst each chef (or establishment) will have his/her/its own  'chef's spice" mix'.

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Offline Bob-A-Job

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Re: Curry powder vs Garam Masala
« Reply #2 on: March 26, 2019, 01:34 AM »
Both Garam Masala and Curry Powder are a mix of different ingredients.  They both come in many Brands and consistencies and with varying ingredients and ratios of ingredients.

I have some brands I like (trust) and some I don't and even then, like wine (where the amount of Sun, rain and other factors can effect the grape), Curry Powder from the same brand can sometimes be inconsistent but not wildly and if not used solely, the variations can be imperceptible.. I have found Garam Masala to be more consistent in general.

I have eaten in BIR and at peoples homes and the home cooked was always far superior, in my opinion.  That does not preclude that some of the best BIR may mix their own Garam Masala as well and possibly be the 5% that some are looking for.

This was also mentioned in the recent TV series Parveens Indian Kitchen, where she states "she normally makes the Garam Masala herself" but in the show, uses an unnamed brand as 'it will do'.  Then why does she normally make her own if a branded will do?

As far as I am concerned, you are on the right track, they are both mixes but I cannot remember a recipe that adds Garam Masala at the final stage, surely it wouldn't be 'cooked'?

BAJ

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Offline mickyp

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Re: Curry powder vs Garam Masala
« Reply #3 on: March 26, 2019, 09:17 AM »
BAB I’m sure I’ve seen that on a Pathia recipe, sprinkle with Garamasala and serve, it was there I believe to give an aromatic finish to the dish, I get where you are coming from though, when I have finished wielding a paint brush I will see if I can find it.

Offline Peripatetic Phil

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Re: Curry powder vs Garam Masala
« Reply #4 on: March 26, 2019, 09:49 AM »
"Sprinkle with garam masala" is an instruction you will find in the vast majority of traditional Indian recipes.  The practice is probably less common in BIRs today.
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Offline George

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Re: Curry powder vs Garam Masala
« Reply #5 on: March 26, 2019, 10:38 AM »
The practice is probably less common in BIRs today..

Yes, it's certainly less common than it was in the 1970s which may be why many people think tastes have changed (for the worse),.

Offline livo

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Re: Curry powder vs Garam Masala
« Reply #6 on: March 26, 2019, 10:57 AM »
There is no defined combination of spices in any set ratio for either. Ajoy lists 6 different Garam Masala formulae he uses for different purposes. Fish, Chicken, meat, Vegetable and kebab are the 5 I remember. Similarly, there is a multitude of mixed spice powders that are all called curry powder. There are common similarities just as there are variable differences in both.

BIR Mixed Powder may or may not contain curry powder as an ingredient just as readily as it can be considered a curry powder in its own finished blended state. Trying to pin a concrete definition to either is futile.

Garam Masala can be added early in the cooking process, towards the end, as a garnish / condiment, as an aromatic or a combination of these. Curry powder as an ingredient is usually, but not always, cooked.

There are certain spices that are always or usually present in each just as there are spices never or rarely found in one or the other. For example, Turmeric would almost always, or at least usually, be in any curry powder but probably never, or at best rarely, in Garam Masala. Black pepper would often be found in either.

Ajoy's 6th variation on Garam Masala is for biryani.
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Offline bhamcurry

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Re: Curry powder vs Garam Masala
« Reply #7 on: March 26, 2019, 12:11 PM »
thank you all for your thoughtful posts.

I have come so far in my curry knowledge in a very short time thanks to everyone here sharing their knowledge so generously, and I am learning more each day  :D

Offline chewytikka

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Re: Curry powder vs Garam Masala
« Reply #8 on: March 26, 2019, 02:21 PM »
bhamcurry
Yes, it is a steep learning curve for beginners , even just the basics,
plus misinformation in old books like Kris Dhillons, (not BIR)

Chef Ajoy  could be admired for his knowledge and passion, but is far from BIR in flavours.
Following him and this route is not going to give you the desired BIR result.

What brands of powdered spices do you have there in the US ?

I did a video explaining restaurant MIX powder  and  like most of the
restaurants Ive been involved with, it includes the aromatic Garam  Masala.


n.b. a good fresh Garam Masala can be made with only three spices
Cardamom + Cinnamon + Cloves

cheers Chewy
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Offline bhamcurry

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Re: Curry powder vs Garam Masala
« Reply #9 on: March 26, 2019, 06:35 PM »
Chewy, I am not sure of brand names - I tend not to pay attention to them. I have 3 Indian grocery stores in my metro area (1 of which, sadly, burned down recently thanks to a fire in a neighbouring building, so is in unknown state of pay whether or not they will return).

I think I have seen Rajah brand, but don't want to swear to that - I have mainly been sourcing the basic spices to blend myself. I wanted all along to develop a house flavour, hence getting the raw spices in bulk.

I have a curry powder from my local restaurant supply store, which is "Chef's Quality" brand, which appears on most of my spices  ;) - it's a moderately hot curry blend, but rather bland, hence making my own curry powder and garam masala from scratch. Also hence my confusion on the roles of curry powder vs garam masala  :D


 


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