Masala seasoning is an exotic, warm, and heady spice blend for flavoring Indian dishes. Make this recipe to have it ready to use anytime!
Making spice blends in small batches guarantees freshness and the maximum amount of flavor.
Plus, they are easy to make! All you need for this recipe is a hot skillet and a spice or coffee grinder!
You probably already have many of the ingredients in your pantry. What you’re missing can be found at international markets, or stores like Sprouts, Whole Foods, and Trader Joes.
What is garam masala seasoning?
One of the most widely used Indian spice blends, garam masala translates to “hot mixture of spices.”
Despite the name, the spices add heat without being too spicy. There are also sweet and floral notes that create a nice overall balance.
The exact recipe can vary by region and family recipe, so feel free to experiment and make adjustments based on your flavor preferences.
INGREDIENT NOTES AND SUBSTITUTIONS
Note: This is just a partial list of ingredients. For the full ingredient list, see the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
- Cardamom - I use a mix of black and green cardamom pods in my garam masala spice recipe because they create different flavors and aromas. Green cardamom has sweet floral and herbal notes, while black cardamom has a deep smokey flavor with a hint of menthol.
- Nutmeg seed - Whole seeds are used for this masala seasoning since they add a fresher taste than when they are already ground. The seeds also have a much longer shelf life, so the flavor will be bolder when combined with the other spices.
- Ground mace - Surprisingly, mace has a close relationship to nutmeg. It’s the red substance the covers the nutmeg seeds and has a spicier flavor, often described as a mix of cinnamon and pepper. The color of the spice can range from red to yellow depending on the origin, and it often lightens once dried and ground.
How to make garam masala
Simply toast the spices to release their oils, then grind them together into a powder. It will only take you about 10 minutes!
- Toast: Add everything but the ground mace to a dry skillet and toast over medium heat. Be sure to stir frequently so nothing burns, and turn off the heat when the spices become fragrant.
- Grind: Cool the spices before grinding, otherwise the heat will create steam and cause clumping. Then, add the toasted spices and the ground mace to the grinder and blend until it makes a fine powder.
- Storage - Keep this masala seasoning in an airtight container in a cool pantry. Use within 2 months for best flavor and quality, or store in the refrigerator to prolong the life of the spices.
- Variations - Other commonly used spices include turmeric, saffron, mustard seeds, ginger, fennel seeds, or tamarind.
- Health benefits - So often the focus of nutrition is on the whole foods used in a dish, but spices can play a large role as well. The individual spices boast a range of benefits, but garam masala as a whole is often used to improve metabolism and digestion.
- More uses - While often used in curries and soups, it can also be added to meat marinades or sprinkled on fish and eggs. Add it towards the end of cooking so it doesn’t lose its potency and aromatic quality.
OTHER HOMEMADE SPICE BLENDS TO MAKE
It’s easy to make your own blends at home, and the flavors are often bolder and more intense. Plus, the ingredients are fresher and there are no added preservatives.
Garam Masala Spice Blend
- ½ cup cumin seeds (or 10 tbsp ground cumin)
- 3 tbsp coriander seeds (or 11 ¼ tsp ground coriander)
- 2 tbsp black peppercorns (or 9 tsp ground back pepper)
- 12 green cardamom pods (or 1 tsp ground green cardamom)
- 6 black cardamom pods (or ½ tsp ground black cardamom)
- 6 bay leaves
- 6 whole star anise
- 4 cinnamon 3-inch sticks (or 8 tsp ground cinnamon)
- ½ nutmeg seed (or 1 tsp ground nutmeg)
- ½ tsp ground mace
- Toast all the spices EXCEPT ground mace in a cast iron skillet or other non stick pan over medium heat. Stir often and turn off the heat after spice gives off aromatic fragrance. Several minutes should do the trick. Don't burn!
- Allow to cool and grind in spice/coffee grinder or blender along with the ground mace. Store in an airtight container.
*The information shown below is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist's advice.