Garam Masala

30 Apr

garam masala

I know I post a lot of spice mix recipes, but they’re really an easy way to get the most flavorful food out of your kitchen. The same basic spices (which will stay good for years when stored whole) can be recombined into many distinct mixes. Garam masala is one of my favorites. A staple of North Indian cuisine, the recipes can vary widely from one household to the next, but always involve some “warming” spices (such as cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and black pepper). So this is a great mix to adjust exactly to your liking, whether its changing the proportions, omitting some ingredients, or adding others (allspice, star anise, or a couple bay leaves would all fit nicely here); I like mine a little heavy on the cumin and chili peppers. The resulting mix can elevate a simple stew, help to recreate authentic North Indian dishes, or even be added to cookies or hot chocolate for an unusual twist.

Garam Masala (adapted from The Kitchn)
Yield: approximately 1/4 cup


  • 2 3″ cinnamon sticks
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1 Tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1 Tbsp black peppercorns
  • 1/2 Tbsp green cardamom seeds (from 8 – 10 whole pods)
  • 1/2 Tbsp black cardamom seeds (from 8 – 10 whole pods)
  • 1/2 Tbsp whole cloves
  • 3 – 4 dried red chili peppers
  • 1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg


  1. Heat a non-stick or cast iron pan over medium high heat, then toast, one at a time, 2 3″ cinnamon sticks, 1 1/2 Tbsp cumin seeds, 1 Tbsp coriander seeds, 1 Tbsp black peppercorns, 1/2 Tbsp green cardamom seeds (from 8 – 10 whole pods), 1/2 Tbsp black cardamom seeds (from 8 – 10 whole pods), 1/2 Tbsp whole cloves, and 3 – 4 dried red chili peppers. Toast each spice until fragrant, about 60 seconds, then remove to a spice grinder or mortar and pestle.
  2. Grind the toasted spices to a fine powder (or your desired consistency).
  3. Stir in 1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg. Store in a jar at room temperature; this spice mix will stay good for 6 months but will decrease in flavor with time.

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7 Responses to “Garam Masala”

  1. Dawn May 6, 2012 at 8:25 am #

    I LOVE garam masala but I haven’t made my own yet. You have inspired me to try it!

    • Claire May 6, 2012 at 6:15 pm #

      You’ll be amazed how much more flavor grinding your own spices will give you – it’s the freshest you can get them!

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