The secret of Indian cooking is in the spice mixes we use. Purity, proportion and freshness of the ingredients is crucial. As the wife of an army officer, my mother lived in different towns and cities all over the country and learnt a number of recipes from other army wives. Her recipe for garam masala is one that she learnt from a Punjabi friend and we have used this at home since as far back as I can remember. I continued using this masala after I got married and of course, the tradition continues with my daughters.
Garam masala is to North Indian cooking as Sambar powder is to the South Indian cuisine. Unadulterated masalas are assured when you make it at home, where you know what has gone into it.