Garam masala is the spice mix used in most Indian dishes. Once, every family made their own. Our great-grandmother, for example, would go to the market, select all her spices by hand, and then roast and grind them in her own special way, creating a blend of flavors distinct from other households's.
Now, everyone buys their garam masala in boxes from the Indian store, which are (sadly) often stale, padded with the cheaper spices, and adulterated with sawdust, brick powder, or even plain old dirt. The Western brands selling garam masala are not even worth considering, because they’ve added so many random “exotic” spices that you can't even call it garam masala anymore.
What we've made is a mix like our great-grandmother's. We’ve stuck to the exact same proportions and techniques as she did, even down to adjusting the coarseness of the grind based on the spice. We’ve gone out of our way to include black cardamom - a larger kind of cardamom that, after harvesting, is smoked by hand in the foothills of Nepal - as called for in her recipe, which many brands skip because of its expense. The resulting masala turned out so good that our mother, who ground her own garam masala all her adult life according to the same recipe, switched over to using our jars for her daily cooking. (We can attest that her cooking's just as mouth-watering as before.)
We’ve even got a booklet of some of our family’s recipes to help you get started, which you can download here. Enjoy!