Garam masala is the quintessential Indian spice blend and one that you need to have in your pantry if you are a fan of authentic Indian food. Curry powder could actually be considered the British version of garam masala. Curry powder is all about adapting Indian spice blends for European tastes, while garam masala is the real thing. Garam masala is more flavorful than curry powder and may contain with flavors that seem strange to Western tastebuds. This effect is amplified if you use too much garam masala.
If you have gone overboard with this seasoning blend, the pungent spices it contains can easily make a dish too bitter to be consumed. Though, don’t worry. You have some options. Consider the following tips for rectifying the situation and possibly righting the ship that is your dinner.
You can dilute any unwanted flavor in a dish by simply making a full batch without the offending ingredient and adding it to the first batch. This reduces the concentration of the ingredient — in this case, garam masala — without compromising the recipe’s integrity. Depending on how strong the garam masala flavor is, you may be able to get away with making a half-batch and adding it to the first full batch. You can also remove half of the first batch and add a half-batch to cut the garam masala flavor exactly in half. This would reduce the amount of money you would spend trying to save the dish. Even if you do wind up with too much food because of attempts to dilute the dish, this method can keep you from having to throw everything out.
One great way to neutralize a strong flavor is to add another strong flavor. A highly acidic ingredient can help to mask the taste of a strong spice blend like garam masala. You can try an authentic Indian spice like mango powder or tamarind. Either of these should work well in a dish that features garam masala prominently. Alternatively, you can try something like lime juice for a fruitier flavor profile.
Garam masala will make your food bitter if you use too much of it. This the result of the cumin, cardamom, and other pungent spices that most blends contain. The best way to deal with a bitter flavor in any food is simply to add a sweetener to it. This can be as simple as adding a teaspoon of sugar or you can get more creative with a little agave nectar or honey. The key is to eliminate the bitter note. Your dish will still be strongly spiced but it should also be more palatable.
Use dairy products
If you have added too much of any one spice or spice mix to an Indian dish, one of your best bets is to tone it down with a dairy product. Dairy can neutralize some of the off-tastes that come from too much of a spice without affecting the flavors that you do want in the dish. In other words, it gives you a chance to eliminate the problem without making it worse. A dairy product like yogurt is also authentic in that it shows up in many Indian dishes and can give a tang that will enhance the dish.
Try coconut milk
Coconut milk is a great way to remain authentic since coconut milk is popular in South Asian cuisine. Coconut milk gives you many of the benefits of dairy without using actual dairy. It can mellow out spicy or bitter flavor notes without detracting from the overall flavor profile of the dish.