This will be the BEST, the easiest, and the most authentic Homemade Indian Garam Masala you will ever make--in just 5 minutes.
Ever wondered how to make an authentic Garam Masala? What is Garam Masala anyway, and is there one recipe for it? If you've been looking for a good, authentic, Indian garam masala recipe, I have just the one you need!
This is a 5-minute, super-efficient, utterly authentic Indian Garam Masala recipe.
It’s so simple, your teenager can make it while you have that glass of wine you’re craving.
This single thing, above all others, will elevate your Indian cooking to a whole new level.
What does Garam Masala Mean?
In Hindi, the word Garam means hot. Masala is a ubiquitous term used to refer to any sort of spice mix.
Moreover, we use spices either whole or ground, raw or toasted, and in a host of different other combinations.
So let me differentiate between an Indian Masala, and Garam Masala.
This mix of onion, tomatoes, ginger, and garlic is a masala, or wet masala. This forms the base of a lot of Indian cooking.
In contrast, garam masala powder is a mix of spices and seeds that have been ground together. These ground spices vary by regions, by families, and across households within the same regions.
WHAT IS IN A GOOD INDIAN MASALA RECIPE?
A good garam masala has a mix of sweet, hot, and savory ingredients, as in this recipe.
- Cumin, Coriander, and bay leaves serve as the savory ingredients.
- Red chile peppers and black peppercorns provide heat.
- Cinnamon and cloves provide sweetness.
- Fennel seeds are often used in South Indian Masalas, especially when combined with coconut milk
- Cardamom seeds, and sometimes nutmeg and mace provide fragrance.
- Star anise is often used, but if you choose to do this, use small quantities, as it can overwhelm the other spices.
- White or Green cardamom seeds are used, but black cardamom is rarely used in garam masala. This isn't to say you can't use it when you make your own garam masala spice blend of course!
- Often, what varies are the proportions of each spice. My Punjabi garam masala spice blend uses similar ingredients but in different proportions.
- Sometimes what makes the difference is whether spices are used raw, or dry roasted, or roasted with a little oil.
You could take this exact recipe for the garam masala below, and dry roast them, and have something that tastes quite a bit different.
All of these warming spices are said to have different health properties in Ayurvedic medicine.
I don't know much about Ayurveda, but I do know that these things just taste delicious. So. That's why I arm myself with a spice grinder and I make my own Indian Garam Masala spice every time I need it.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CURRY POWDER AND GARAM MASALA?
So here's the first thing about curry powder.
Curry Powder is not an Indian spice mix.
No seriously, I kid you not! We do not have such a thing as ubiquitous curry powder in Indian Cuisine.
Curry is anything that is cooked with water. Just imagine, if we had a SOUP POWDER sold as a spice. That's what it's like to have curry powder.
Having said, that, I know there are curry powders sold in many countries.
The main difference as I see it, is that curry powder is used as a main seasoning for the food. It is less likely to contain aromatics, and it isn't used for fragrancing the food. It's used simply to flavor the food.
Since a good garam masala powder often contains aromatics like cumin or black cumin, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, black pepper, etc., garam masala can be used for cooking to infuse flavor, and for finishing to infuse fragrance as well.
WHAT IS A GOOD GARAM MASALA SUBSTITUTE?
I hate to break it to you, but there's not a great substitute for it. If I were you, I'd either make it with whichever of these ingredients you have, or just go buy the ingredients, make it, and never regret having bought it.
So having said that, remember what I said about the ability to use different ingredients in a garam masala recipe?
If you like cloves? Add some. If you dislike cinnamon? Reduce the amount in this one. Want to use Black Cumin instead of regular? Have at it.
What Can I use Garam Masala For?
Oh honey. Let me count the ways! Considering how many recipes with garam masala I have, you will have lots of different ways to use it up!
Many, many Indian dishes call for garam masala usually as a finishing touch. In my recipes, I use the ground spice mix as a substitute for using whole spices because #ruthlessefficiency!
If you love Indian Flavors, you are going to be thrilled with this garam masala spice mix.
- 75+ Indian Instant Pot recipes, many of which use garam masala
- My famous Instant Pot butter chicken or my Vegetarian Butter "Chicken"
- The best and easiest Chicken Tikka masala you've ever made
- Tandoori Chicken Bites
- Chicken Korma recipe,
- My Basic Indian Curry recipe
- Chicken Tikka Masala recipe
- Plain basmati rice, with homemade ghee, salt, and a sprinkle of garam masala. Pure heaven!
- Grilled Chicken Tikka recipe or Paneer Tikka
- Sprinkled over sweet potatoes or used in these Spiced Butter Nut Squash
- You can see a complete list of my recipes that use garam masala HERE.
WHY CAN'T I JUST USE STORE BOUGHT GARAM MASALA?
You could--IF you found a high-quality one that used largely the same ingredients that I give you for the ground garam masala recipe below.
Let me explain to you why grinding your own is better than buying.
I want to share with you why the quality of Garam masala you use in Indian cooking to get authentic Indian flavors, especially within my recipes, matters.
Acknowledging that most people do not have these whole spices, I substituted garam masala. But this is essentially the blend of complex flavors you are trying to re-create with the powder.
Imagine what would happen if the store-bought masala had a preponderance of paprika instead of all of this goodness?
It's not going to taste the same.
There are two issues when you compare store-bought vs. homemade garam masala.
- What's actually in it. I have seen waaaay too many garam masala recipes whose primary ingredient is Paprika! That is not what you want. Those garam masalas look very red, they have zero flavor, and if you want to make the best Indian Butter chicken, or anything that remotely tastes like Indian food, be very careful about just buying any old bottle from the store.
- The other issue is shelf-life. Whole seeds hold on to fragrance and flavor for up to a year at a time. But as soon as you crack through their protective outer shell, the aromas in the spice start to dissipate. Over time, it smells like---well, like sawdust really. Don't believe me? Well, if you're not already on the #trustUrvashi train, a) get on it! and b) try it for yourself. Make some fresh garam masala. Smell one from the store, or one you've made that's a month old. And then write to me and tell me I was right 🙂
Besides, did you read the part where I told you it only takes 5 minutes to make your own Garam Masala??
Best homemade Garama Masala
This recipe for Homemade Garam Masala was adapted from my favorite Indian cookbook, Raghavan Iyer's 660 curries.
If you plan to cook any of my Indian recipes, you will notice that I use this Garam Masala as a substitute for whole spices very often.
While traditional Indian cuisine involves the use of many whole spices, most non-Indians are not used to eating around whole spices. I use this as a substitute for a lot of different spices.
I urge you to take the 5 minutes to make this Indian garam masala. Not only will it improve the flavors in your cooking, but it will also ensure your cooking tastes exactly like what I cook in my own kitchen!
The best places to get all the spices are either Whole Foods, Central Market, Sprouts, or other stores that have spice bins, or an Indian grocery store.
I suggest you get whole spices because not only do they keep fresh for a year, but if you get the spices for this mix, you will be able to make many of the other spice mixes that I have listed on this blog.
I am a strong proponent of grinding my own spices, so I have a whole selection of homemade spice mixes right here.
How to Make Garam Masala
- Start off with a clean coffee grinder and the requisite spices.
2. Add all the whole spices and start grinding the mixture. Shake the coffee grinder periodically as shown in the video. You are doing this to ensure that all the seeds get evenly ground, and that you do not have a paste at the bottom.
Listen carefully. When the sound changes from a popcorn popping-like sound to a slightly smoother, grittier sound, your garam masala is done,
3. Unplug the coffee grinder. Turn it upside down and thump the bottom of it to get all the spice goodness into the lid of the coffee grinder.
3. Use the lid as a way to collect the freshly ground spice mix.
4. Use a funnel to pour what you need immediately into a bowl. Store the rest in a tightly sealed jar in a cool place (as in, NOT by your stovetop).
Watch The Garam Masala Video
If you'd like to watch a video to see how simple this is, check out this video on how to make your own garam masala.
Equipment & Ingredients You May Need to Make Homemade Garam Masala
- Coffee Grinder
- Measuring cups
- Measuring Spoons
- Coriander Seeds
- Cumin Seeds
- Whole Cloves
- Cardamom Pods
- Dried Bay Leaves
- Cayenne Pepper
- Cinnamon Sticks
- Black Peppercorns
Want To Make More Homemade Spice Blends?
- Egyptian Dukkah
- Lebanese 7 Spice
- Cajun Spice Mix
- Sambhar Masala
- Kafta Kabab Spice Mix
- Ras Al Hanout Spice
- Shawarma Spice Mix
- Dry Sesame Garlic Chutney
- Ethiopian Berbere
- Maharash Trian Goda Masala
- Garama Masala
- Punjabi Garam Masala
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- Put all ingredients into a clean coffee grinder and grind until it's a coarse-fine powder.
- Shake it about as its being ground so all the seeds and bits get under the blades.
- When you're finished, unplug the grinder, and turn it upside down.
- You want all the spice to collect into the lid so you can easily scoop it out without cutting yourself
- playing about around the blades.
- Finished! Use in the palak paneer recipe I have posted as well as the chicken curry recipe.