Garam masala

Garam masala [gah-rahm mah-sah-lah]

Garam is Indian for “warm” or “hot”, and this blend of dry-roasted, ground spices from the colder climes of northern India adds a sense of ”warmth” to both palate and spirit. There are many variations of garam masala (which may contain up to 12 spices) as there are Indian cooks. It can include BLACK PEPPER, CINNAMON, CLOVES, CORIANDER, CUMIN, CARDAMOM, DRIED CHILES, FENNEL, MACE, NUTMEG and other spices. Garam masala may be purchased in Indian markets and in most supermarkets. It’s also easily prepared at home, but should be made in small batches to retain its freshness. As with all spices, it should be stored in a cool, dry place for no more than 6 months. Garam masala is usually either added to a dish toward the end of cooking or sprinkled over the surface just before serving.



  • 1 cinnamon stick (2-1/2 to 3 inches long), broken into pieces
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/4 cup cumin seeds
  • 1/3 cup coriander seeds
  • 1 Tbs. green cardamom pods
  • 1 Tbs. whole black peppercorns
  • 2 tsp. whole cloves
  • 1 small dried red chile, stemmed
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg (preferably freshly grated)
  • 1/8 tsp. ground mace


Heat the cinnamon, bay leaves, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, cardamom pods, peppercorns, cloves, and chile in a medium skillet over medium-high heat, stirring often, until the cumin seeds darken to a deep, toasty brown color, 2 to 3 minutes—the spices may crackle and smoke a bit. Immediately transfer to a plate or bowl to cool. Add the nutmeg and mace, and grind the spices in a spice grinder to a fine powder, working in batches if necessary.

Make Ahead Tips: Garam masala can be stored in an airtight container for up to 4 months.

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