Garam Masala is the cornerstone of Punjabi cooking. It's a mixed spice that gets tossed into every curry, every lentil dish, pretty much every thing we cook at home. My family even tosses some on top of a toast. Not surprising then, that every Punjabi household has their own garam masala recipe. I still use my mum's - not her recipe but the actual spice mix. I bring a batch back with me every time I go home to use until the next trip.
Part of the reason I don't venture into making my own garam masala is because it was so hard to get my mum's recipe. But finally, after much guesswork and prodding to measure things just one time, we have the official Sareen family garam masala recipe.
100 grams cumin seeds (jeera)
50 grams coriander seeds (dhania)
20-25 nos. black peppercorns
8-10 nos. cloves
5 nos. black cardamom
Heat a pan. Switch the heat to medium, pop in the cumin seeds and roast, stirring continuously, until toasty and fragrant. You are only looking to lightly heat the seeds so take them off before they change color. Remove the cumin seeds from the pan and repeat the process with coriander seeds and then with the remaining three ingredients.
Wait 15-20 minutes for the spices to cool. Grind cloves and cardamom to a powder; then grind cumin, coriander and peppercorns separately. We aren't doing it at the same time because cloves and cardamom take longer to get to a fine powder and you don't want to grind the other three for that long.
Mix up both set of spices and that's it folks, the garam masala for every curry you ever need to make. A final word on how to use this. Never, ever add garam masala when you are cooking a dish. It's always sprinkled at the end, just before serving, to maximise the flavour impact.