This garam masala recipe is packed with authentic Indian spices and aromas. This spice blend is made with a mix of sweet, earthy, and warm seasonings will make your Indian-inspired dishes even more flavorful!
One of my cooking obsessions is making my own homemade spice blends! Yes, you can absolutely find most spice mixes pre-made at the supermarket. But, hear me out — they are so much better when you make them yourself!
I’ve got plenty of other spice blends that you can try your hand at if you’re interested: Turkish spice blend, a Lebanese blend with 7 spices, zaatar, berbere, and Moroccan. But today, we’re taking things over to India, where garam masala reigns. Seriously, if you’ve ever whipped up Indian cuisine, you know that this blend is everywhere!
When you use a homemade spice blend recipe instead of storebought, you’ll notice the difference right away. It’s so much more aromatic than other varieties you can find at the grocery store. If you’ve never tasted it, it’s warm and complex. Sweet yet spicy, floral yet earthy, the combination of 10 different spices creates a nice overall balance.
Making your own seasoning in small batches guarantees freshness and the maximum amount of flavor. Plus, homemade spice blends are easy to make! All you need for this recipe is a hot skillet and a spice or coffee grinder!
WHAT IS GARAM MASALA?
Garam masala is one of the most widely used Indian spice blends. In English, the term garam masala means a “hot mixture of spices.” Despite its name, the spices add heat without being too spicy. There are also sweet and floral notes present that create a complex flavor profile that adds much to whatever you pair it with.
The ingredients of this spice blend change depending on where you are in India — every home has its own special garam masala recipe! Plus, you don’t have to limit yourself to Indian dishes. You can add this blend to many different types of recipes to enhance the flavor.
RECIPES THAT USE GARAM MASALA
I have several recipes that use this spice mix! I usually add it at the end of cooking for a punch of flavor and aroma. Below are some ideas to inspire you:
- Instant Pot chana masala
- Paneer butter masala
- Gobi Masala (cauliflower curry)
- Indian chickpea masala
- Aloo gobi matar
- Dal makhani
- Vegetable jalfrezi stir fry
HEALTH BENEFITS OF GARAM MASALA
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 in this homemade masala blend boast a range of benefits, but as a whole, the mixture is often used to improve metabolism and digestion.
This spice mix is known to warm and therefore balance and detoxify the body. Who knew there were so many benefits to eating a spice mix?
INGREDIENT NOTES AND SUBSTITUTIONS
- Cumin Seeds – Whole seeds are used for this garam masala recipe. I like using whole spices because they have a fresher taste than ground spices. That said, you can use ground cumin instead if needed. See the conversion chart here on my Essentials page for Indian herbs and spices.
- Coriander Seeds – The same goes for coriander. Also called cilantro, it boasts a fresh, citrusy taste.
- Black Peppercorns – Most of the heat found in this blend come from this ingredient. You can also use ground black pepper.
- Green Cardamom Pods – I use a mix of black and green cardamom pods in this recipe because they create different flavors and aromas. Green cardamom has sweet floral and herbal notes.
- Black Cardamom Pods – Black cardamom has a deep smoky flavor with a hint of menthol.
- Bay Leaves – The Indian Bay Leaf (Teja Patta), comes from the cassia tree and tastes more like cinnamon. I don’t recommend substituting it with the Mediterranean laurel bay leaf in Indian cooking, which has a menthol essence.
- Whole Star Anise – Anise adds a sweet, somewhat licorice flavor to the spice blend.
- Cinnamon Sticks – I like to use 3-inch cassia cinnamon sticks. You can also replace it with ground cinnamon.
- Nutmeg Seed – Whole nutmeg seeds have a much longer shelf life, so the flavor will be bolder when combined with the other spices.
- Ground Mace – Mace has a close relationship with nutmeg. It’s the red substance that covers the nutmeg seeds and has a spicier flavor, often described as a mix of cinnamon and pepper. The color of mace can range from red to yellow depending on the origin, and it often lightens once dried and ground.
Variations – Other commonly used spices include turmeric, saffron, mustard seeds, ginger, fennel seeds, or tamarind.
Video: Making the garam masala recipe
To see how easy it is to make this homemade spice mix, just watch the video in the recipe card at the bottom of this post!
HOW TO MAKE GARAM MASALA SPICE BLEND
- Clean The Spices. When using authentic spices, you run the risk of coming across small stones, dirt, or other debris. Make sure to clean and check your spices first! Open up a few of the seeds to make sure there are no worms inside as well. Yucky, but it can happen!
- Toast The Spices. Place all of the spices and seasonings except the ground mace in a cast iron skillet. You can also use any other nonstick pan. Head the seasonings over medium heat to toast them, making sure to stir often. As soon as the spice blend begins to give off an aromatic fragrance, turn off the heat. It shouldn’t take longer than a few minutes.
- Grind Them Together. Allow the spice mixture to cool completely and grind in a spice or coffee grinder along with the ground mace. Store your garam masala recipe in an airtight container, like a small glass jar.
Is Garam Masala Spicy?
Thanks to the black peppercorns, this blend is a bit spicy. But, don’t worry — it doesn’t pack much heat. Even the most spice-averse will enjoy it! This is because the rest of the herbs, seeds, and seasonings balance out the peppercorns.
What Can I Substitute For Garam Masala?
If you’re in a crunch ad don’t have time to prepare this garam masala recipe yourself, or if you can’t find it in the supermarket, you have a few other options. You can replace it with masala curry powder, chaat masala, or Ras el Hanout, which I also have a recipe for, but mind it will alter the flavor.
Are Curry Powder and Garam Masala The Same Thing?
Despite having similar flavors, garam masala and curry powder are not the same things. Garam masala is an authentic Indian spice blend while curry powder originated in the UK. Plus, it boasts a much stronger flavor and — in my humble opinion — is much better!
This post, originally published on Silk Road Recipes August, 2020, was updated with new content, photos and/or video in August, 2022.
Garam Masala Recipe + Video
- 1/2 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 Indian bay leaf (Tej Patta)
- 6 whole star anise
- 4 cassia cinnamon 3-inch sticks (or 8 tsp ground cinnamon)
- 1/2 nutmeg seed (or 1 tsp ground nutmeg)
- 1/2 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 is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.