Garam Masala – Indian Spice Blend


My husband and I just love Indian food!!  There are garam masala blends available for sale ready-made, but like other blends, they can vary widely in flavor from bottle to bottle.  I haven’t found any commercial blends I like and most have been tossed out.

After experimenting with so many garam masala recipes, this is one that we keep coming back to and that has now become my “permanent recipe”.  This mix is well worth adding to your spice rack.  It is a little heavy with cinnamon, but we like that to round out the sharp coriander, which can be too strong in some recipes for this blend.  You won’t be sorry you added this to your arsenal of culinary “secrets”.   I have found it to be good in all curries, on all grilled meats and even on broiled or grilled seafood and Indian vegetable recipes.  It is also nice in a few dessert applications. Type “Indian” in the search box to see an array of Indian recipes here on my site to try this spice in sometime. They are all tried-and-true recipes I’ve cooked many times.  Give them a try some time!


6 T. coriander seeds
3 T. cumin seeds
2 T. black peppercorns
1 T. whole cardamom pods (outer part and seeds inside)
5  small cinnamon sticks broken into small pieces
2  tsp. whole cloves
1  whole grated nutmeg (about 1 tsp)

DIRECTIONS:  In a dry skillet, over low heat, heat the first 6 spices until they become very fragrant. This step is most important, so do not skip it or your results won’t be as good.  When fragrant, turn off heat and remove pan from stove.   Using a spice/coffee grinder (I have a cheap dedicated coffee grinder for spices only), grind all toasted spices to a pretty fine grind, but it doesn’t have to be as fine as salt.  Add grated nutmeg at this point.  When adding this spice to curry recipes, I once again heat the dry skillet and reheat these until they become fragrant and then proceed with whatever recipe I’m making. This is outstanding in all chicken, beef and fish curries.  It’s great on charcoal grilled, buttered  fish and chicken, too!

NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION: Each teaspoon contains:

6  calories, 0.31 g.  fat, 1.1 g.  carbs, 0.6 g.  fiber, 0.23 g.   protein, 0.5 g. NET CARBS


13 thoughts on “Garam Masala – Indian Spice Blend

  1. So with the cardamom pods, you do not have to remove the outer husk before grinding? I have laboriously cut the ends off, carefully pick out the black seeds (which usually end up flying across the room!) and then grind the seeds…such a pain. This will be so much easier if I can bypass the peeling part!

    1. Honestly, Barbara, I didn’t remove the husk for some time in making my spice blend. But since I created this recipe I discovered that Penzey’s on-line or through catalog sells the little black seeds already shelled out for you. Lazy me, I buy those exclusively now. The savings in time is worth the cost. LOL

  2. This sounds really good but I am allergic to cinnamon. I wonder if you could suggest another spice that would work to substitute for the cinnamon.

  3. Hi, this blend sounds good, but I take it a bit farther. I refer to my blend as “everything but the kitchen sink.” I probably use the same proportions you do (except less cinnamon, and I usually use closer to equal parts cumin and coriander), but I also put in small amounts of whole fennel seeds, anise, allspice, caraway, and a couple bay leaves. I like the sweet, aromatic overtones of fennel and anise. I toast everything together, including the nutmeg. As for what Theresa said, I’ve never heard of putting fenugreek in garam masala, but I’m sure they do it somewhere. I use fenugreek separately in dishes that specifically call for it, like butter chicken and chicken vindaloo. I like fenugreek, but it does have a very specific flavor and I wouldn’t want it in everything I use garam masala with! I also don’t care for store-bought blends: too few spices and usually heavy on the cheap ones, like turmeric (which I never put in my garam masala anyway).

    1. Your blend sounds delightful. There are so many, and every one I’ve tried is distinctly different from the others. Kinda like gumbo. No two bowls alike. Chana Masala is a nice blend, but I don’t come across many recipes that call for it. One of my Indian cookbooks has at least a dozen masala spice recipes, but I’ve only tried the Chana masala so far, and used it in a beef curry. It was pretty good, but a lot “heavier” than Garam.

  4. Hi, this looks good :)….I have all but the whole cardamom pods. Would ground cardamom work and if so, how much? Cheers.

    1. Sorry I’m just getting to replying, Colleen. Been out of town. You can use the ground, but it will not be as good. What is ground has been around for a long time in most cases and has lost its pizazz. In addition, you don’t get the flavor the pod husk brings to the table. But you could use it I suppose. It would be a total stab in the dark trying to guess how much, however. Googling, I find that 1 pod equals 1/6 teaspoon of the pre-ground cardamom. Problem is, I don’t know where they can come up with that, as the size of the pods varies from one bag to the next. I just measured out 30 pods equals 1 T., but this last cardamom I bought are the smallest pods I’ve ever seen! They’re about the size of a pinto bean. Usually when I buy cardamom, the pods are much larger, the size of TWO pinto beans, so I would be hard-pressed to fit even 15 or so into a tablespoon. I’d use 1 T. to start out with and see how you like it. You might want to add an additional 2 tsp. over time.

  5. Thanks, so much for sharing. this mixture sounds good. there are a lot of recipes for the spice mixture but with fenugreek and some other spices I do not like. this one I will try.

    1. I’m not so fond of fenugreek, either, Theresa. Hope you like this one. We just LOVE it!!! I make a huge batch several times a year, as I really go through it in all my Indian recipes. 🙂

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