2. Garam masala
“Hot spice mixture” in Hindi
Popular in: Northern India.
The blend: Coriander, pepper, cumin, green and sometimes black cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, bay leaves, nutmeg or mace, and ginger—the exact combo can vary.
Flavors: Warm and earthy, with a hint of sweetness.
How to use it: Sizzle garam masala in oil to release its aroma. Then, add it early in cooking for a mellow taste to something like samosas. You can also add it just before serving to brighten flavors: Swirl into chicken curry, or drizzle over pan-fried paneer (fresh Indian cheese).