Want a new twist on your favorite dish? This homemade Garam Masala recipe is quick and easy to make from a variety of whole spices in less than 10 minutes.
This Easy Homemade Garam Masala Recipe
Wanting to add a new fresh, complex flavor/aroma to the dish, not just a single spice, not salt and pepper, not soy sauce, not lemon, I thought Garam Masala, a spice mix of many different spices, is the one.
I make it from scratch at home and always have it on hand in my kitchen. I find it so easy to make, and homemade is the best.
The freshly-ground Garam Masala recipe featured in this blog is so versatile. It adds a fresh new flavor to all sorts of dishes. Besides Indian curry classics, I like to use it in sweet foods such as breakfast fruit oatmeal and vegan chocolate spread, as well as in hot and cold drinks.
Whole Spices vs Ground Spices: Just mixing up ground spices is faster, but I prefer to make Garam Masala from whole spices because it definitely has the freshest flavor and its flavor differs from one made from ground spices.
When it comes to ratio, this recipe is spicy (heat level is near zero) rather than sweet.
I like to use lots of types of spices, at least 10 for versatile Garam Masala to bring out a more complicated flavor. In this recipe, I use 12 kinds of whole spices.
What is Garam Masala?
- Origin: Garam Masala is a spice mix powder, used extensively in Indian cuisine, originated from India. Garam Masala in Hindi is गरम मसाला.
- Ratio & how many types of spices are used? There is no rule for the ratio of Garam Masala components, even in authentic Garam Masala. The ingredients and ratios vary between regions, restaurants, chefs, or persons making it. Every spice lover creates their own Garam Masala, ranging from simple 3-spice blends to those with 10 to 20 spices or even more.
- Where to buy: you can find Garam Masala in Indian or Asian grocery stores, or on the online markets like Amazon.
Garam Masala Ingredients
In this homemade Garam Masala recipe, I use 12 kinds of whole spices as shown in the list below. The ingredient measurements are described on the printable recipe card at the bottom of this blog post.
- Cumin Seeds: Key spice in Garam Masala. Bitter.
- Coriander Seeds: Lemony flavor.
- Fennel Seeds: Mild/Sweet. One of my favorite spices.
- Cinnamon Stick: Rich sweetness. Very aromatic.
- Whole Green Cardamom Pods: Pronounced flavor. Refreshing, relaxing aroma. My favorite spice. Expensive.
- Laurier/Bay Leaf: Fresh aroma.
- Whole Nutmeg (optional): Sweet.
- Mustard Seeds: Tangy.
- Whole Black Peppercorns: Hot. Pungent.
- Whole Cloves: Distinct strong flavor. Pungent taste.
- Whole Star Anise: Bitter/sweet. Distinct strong flavor.
- Whole Allspice: Also known as Jamaica Pepper.
How To Make Garam Masala From Whole Spices At Home
The preparation requires basically 2 simple steps: dry-roast and grind.
STEP 1: Put All The Whole Spices In A Pan
The pan is not heated yet. Put all the whole spices in a (turmeric-color) pan. Tear apart the bay leaf, star anise, and cinnamon sticks into small pieces with hands. Do not add cooking oil.
STEP 2: Dry Roast until Aromatic
Heat the pan over low heat. Toast the whole spices lightly until they turn aromatic. Stir frequently. When the spices start to release aroma, remove them from the heat (STEP 3). It should take 2 to 3 minutes. Do not overheat and burn the spices.
STEP 3: Transfer to a Plate to Cool Down
Transfer the roasted whole spices to a plate to cool down. Note that if you leave the spices in the hot pan, they will continue to cook.
STEP 4: Grate the Whole Nutmeg
In the meantime, grate the dry-roasted whole nutmeg.
Large, hard whole spices such as nutmeg should be made into small pieces before grinding in a grinder. Alternatively, they can be sliced and minced with a knife.
I use a grater/zester. Grate only a portion that you will use. Store the leftover whole nutmeg in an airtight container. If you don’t use nutmeg for your Garam Masala, skip this step.
STEP 5: Grind All the Whole Spices
Transfer the dry-roasted spices to a grinder and grind them into a fine powder. I use a coffee/spice grinder, which grinds whole CARDAMOM pods, and whole CINNAMON sticks with no problem. If a grinder is not that big, divide the spices and grind them separately.
How to Store Homemade Garam Masala & How Long does it Last
Immediately transfer the freshly-ground Garam Masala powder to an airtight container. It is essential to store in a cool, dry, and dark place.
When making a spice blend, not just Garam Masala, I grind small amounts of spices at a time and use up within 1 to 3 weeks. Sometimes I grind only what I will use that day for the maximum aroma. Generally speaking, ground spices are said to last up to 3 to 6 months.
Garam Masala Uses
Garam Masala complements the main flavor/spices of the dish and gives it a fresh spice flavor. There are endless ideas for its uses.
This all-purpose Garam Masala adds a nice spice touch to all kinds of dishes. I like to use it in savory curries and fried rice, as well as in sweets, fruits, and beverages.
It also deliciously spices up store-bought Ramen, Yakisoba, frappe, and latte.
When to add garam masala: Like other ground spices, if Garam Masala is heated for long, its aroma will be lost. So, throw in at the end of the cooking process or after turning off the heat.
- You can make your own Garam Masala. There is no rule for what to put in Garam Masala. Feel free to add/substitute with spices handy, and make your own. It’s absolutely customizable. Enjoy the process and result. DIY is fun!
- Other spice options: Mace, black cardamom, fenugreek, Ajwain, dried garlic, dried ginger, dried chili, paprika, dried turmeric, saffron, dried onion, asafoetida (hing). These spices can also be used for Garam Masala. If you use powdered spices, just mix in after grinding.
- Salt in Garam Masala?: I personally do not include salt in my VERSATILE Garam Masala recipe because there are many times when I do not want to add saltiness (mainly to sweets, baked goods, and beverages.) And, I sometimes have a No-Added-Salt day as a whole food plant-based diet (WFPB). When needed, I adjust the amount of salt with salt alone.
- How to grind Nutmeg: In this blog, I showed how to grind the whole nutmeg with a grater/zester. You can instead slice the nutmeg thinly with a kitchen knife and cut it into small pieces, then grind it with a coffee/spice grinder. Incidentally, with this grater, you can also grate cinnamon sticks.
- Failure Story: I first tried to grind whole spices using my food processor and high-speed blender (not Vitamix), and ended up with a sad result. Half of them remained in chunks. That made me buy a small coffee/spice grinder. And, I am so happy with it. It does a perfect job and is capable of grinding even cardamom pods and cinnamon sticks.
Is Garam Masala Vegan, WFPB, Vegetarian, and Gluten-Free?
Garam Masala is vegan, WFPB (Whole Food Plant-Based), vegetarian, and gluten-free friendly. Spices are plant-based and do not contain gluten. It’s a perfect natural seasoning option for healthy, clean eating.
Note: studies showed that spices have various health benefits. For example, some spices are rich sources of antioxidants. In particular, cloves, allspice, cumin, cinnamon, and turmeric contain high antioxidant content.
If you try this recipe, feel free to leave a comment, rate it, and tag a photo @izumimizokawa on Instagram🌶
Homemade Garam Masala Recipe (All Purpose)
- 1 Tbsp cumin seeds
- 1 Tbsp coriander seeds
- ½ Tbsp fennel seeds
- ½ Tbsp cinnamon stick
- ½ Tbsp whole green cardamom pods
- 1 laurier or bay leaf
- ½ tsp whole Nutmeg (optional)
- ½ tsp mustard seeds
- ½ tsp whole black peppercorns
- ½ tsp whole cloves
- ½ tsp whole star anise
- ½ tsp whole allspice
- Put all the whole spices in a pan. Don't heat the pan yet. Tear the bay leaf, cinnamon sticks, and star anise into small pieces with hands.
- Set the pan over low heat. Dry roast until they become aromatic, stirring frequently. It should take 2 to 3 minutes. Watch them carefully, and don't overheat and burn the spices.
- Transfer to a plate to cool. If you leave the spices in the hot pan, they will continue to cook.
- Meanwhile, grate the dry-roasted whole nutmeg with a grater/zester. Grate only a portion that you need. Or, slice the nutmeg thinly with a knife, and cut it into small pieces, then go to step 5. Store the leftover in an airtight container.
- Transfer the dry-roasted spices (including the grated nutmeg in step 4) to a coffee/spice grinder and grind them into a powder. If the grinder is not big enough, divide and grind separately.
- Add it to your favorite dishes and enjoy!
- Storage: Ground spices will keep for up to 3 to 6 months in an airtight container, in a cool, dry, and dark place. But, for the maximum aroma, they are best consumed as soon as possible. So, I always grind small amounts at a time and use up within 1 day to 3 weeks.
- How to use: If ground spices are heated for long, their aroma will gradually fade, and eventually it will be lost. Thus, throw in during the finishing stages of the cooking process.
- Coffee/spice grinder: My food processor and high-speed blender (not Vitamix) didn’t work well for grinding whole spices. Most of the spices remained in chunks. I’m satisfied with the coffee/spice grinder which does a beautiful job, grinding cardamom pods and cinnamon sticks without problems.
- For more helpful tips, see “Recipe Tips” in this blog post.
- Nutrition information below is an estimate and includes Nutmeg.
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