Garam masala is an aromatic spice blend used for adding warmth and depth to Indian dishes. Every family has their own unique blend of spices and proportions, but most garam masalas will at least include cinnamon, cloves, cardamom and black pepper. It’s also not uncommon to find cumin, coriander, bay leaves, mace, and even saffron in a garam masala blend.
Though I’m still fairly new to the world of Indian cuisine, I’d like to introduce my own house blend that will hopefully stay in my family for many years to come. It’s warm with a little back-of-the-throat heat, and a gentle aroma that pairs equally well with meats, curries, and even desserts.
As an added bonus, this garam masala plays really nicely with fall flavors. So when sweater season hits, toss it with a little extra cinnamon into an apple pie, pumkin pie, or your next batch of banana bread.
My best advice for making a flavorful and long-lasting garam masala is to buy whole spices online or from an Indian market, and to spend $20 on a coffee grinder. Keeping the spices whole will contain their flavor, lending to a much more vibrant mixture (think freshly ground pepper vs. a pepper shaker on a restaurant table). If for any reason you’re not able to get your hands on whole spices, I’ve included measurements for using pre-ground spices. Store your garam masala in an airtight container.
makes about 1/2 cup
2 tbsp whole cloves (about 2 tbsp ground)
1 tbsp + 2 tsp whole black peppercorns (about 2 tbsp ground)
2 1/4 tsp cardamom seeds* (about 1 tbsp ground)
2 tsp whole fennel seeds (about 2 tsp ground)
1 1/2 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
- Working in batches, if necessary, grind the cloves, peppercorns, cardamom seeds and fennel seeds in a coffee grinder until pulverized.
- Whisk in the ground cinnamon and ground nutmeg.
- Store the garam masala in an airtight container. It will keep for at least several months.
*1 1/2 tbsp whole green cardamom pods will yield about 2 1/4 tsp of seeds. To extract the seeds from the pods, crush the pods with the back of a knife to split them open. Collect the seeds in a small bowl prior to grinding.