This will be the BEST, the easiest, and the most authentic Homemade Garam Masala you will ever make–in just 5 minutes.
Ever wondered how to make Garam Masala? What is Garam Masala anyway, and is there one recipe for it? If you’ve been looking for a good garam masala recipe, I have just the one you need!
Okay, people. I am going to teach you how to make the best, and the easiest homemade garam masala you’ve ever tasted–and all in just a few minutes. This single thing, above all others, will elevate your Indian cooking to a whole new level.
WHAT IS IN A GOOD GARAM MASALA RECIPE?
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. If you’d like to learn more about cooking with spices, check out this video, and download these free slides that tell you more about how to use spices, especially in Indian cooking.
A good garam masala has a mix of sweet, hot, and savory ingredients, as in this recipe.
Coriander, cumin, and bayleaves serve as the savory ingredients. Red chile peppers provide heat. Cinnamon and cloves provide the sweetness.
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 recipe.
No seriously, I kid you not! We do not have such a thing as ubiquitous curry powder.
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 often contains aromatics like cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg 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.
Considering how many recipes with garam masala I have, you will have lots of different ways to use it up! Some good recipes to use it in are my Chicken Korma recipe, my Basic Indian Curry recipe, or 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 garam masala recipe below.
I want to share with you why the quality of Garam masala you use in Indian cooking, especially within my recipes, matters. The following pic shows you what I used to use for whole spices in the Instant Pot chicken biryani recipe.
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 GARAM MASALA RECIPE
This recipe for Homemade Garam Masala was adapted from my favorite Indian cookbook, Raghavan Iyer’s 660affiliate link Curries. If you love to cook and are willing to spend a little extra time to make sure everything is made fresh and authentically, this is the one to choose.
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 Cooking 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 homemade 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.
If you’re looking for more great spice mixes, this Ras al Hanout is like the Moroccan version of Indian Garam Masala and it’s great for using on meats and vegetables!
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
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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.
Don’t forget to check out my Instant Pot Fast & Easy Cookbook!
This book is full of all kinds of boldly flavored and internationally-themed recipes—Mexican, Thai, Moroccan, and more—with Instant Pot Fast & Easy, fully authorized by Instant Pot. Just like you have come to expect, my recipes will work perfectly every time, and of course, taste great too.