Recipes vary, but garam masala is India’s ubiquitous spice blend, the pinch that adds flavor to all kinds of dishes. Our Kitchen Coach Chef Preeti Mistry of Juhu Beach Club in Oakland, California, uses this blend in chicken tikka masala. To make sure the spices are extra-fragrant, Preeti toasts them in the oven before grinding.
What to buy: Black cardamom pods are smoked over charcoal—they have an earthy, smoky flavor that gives this spice blend plenty of depth. Read Preeti’s spice-buying tips, with links to online sources.