Garam Masala (two kinds)

Garam Masala is a spice blend used in Indian cooking.  It’s usually added at the end of cooking as the final seasoning.  You can buy it at the store but it really does taste better if you make your own fresh.  Even if you take a whole year to use your homemade garam masala up, it will still taste fresher than the store bought one.  Also this recipe will make your house smell delicious!

I went through a huge Indian cooking phase about 10 years ago.  If you are interested in obsessing on Indian cuisine you should check out my recommendations under the cookbook tab.  I have tried lots of different recipes for garam masala; they vary from region to region, family to family and person to person.  I have tried winging it and making up my own recipe which is probably what great Indian cooks do…but I am not a great Indian cook just an admiring student of the cuisine so I have just settled on two recipes that I like!


This recipe is from Classic Indian Vegetarian and Grain Cooking by Julie Sahni and I have changed it only a very little.  It makes about 3/4 cup.   It is very versatile, so I don’t mind making it in large amounts.  I have found that you can throw a bit of this into plain old American food with excellent results!  This is the masala was used for our welcome Indian dinner the night before our wedding.

  • 1/4 cup cumin seeds
  • 1/4 cup coriander seeds
  • 1 and 1/2 Tablespoons cardamom seeds (picked from about 1/4 cup cardamom pods)
  • 2 three inch cinnamon sticks
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoon whole cloves
  • 3 Tablespoons black peppercorns
  • 4 bay leaves
  1.  Combine all of the spices in a bowl.
  2.  Heat a heavy frying pan over medium high heat for two minutes.
  3. Put all of the spices into the hot pan and dry roast them, turning constantly, until they are several shades darker and exude a spicy aroma.  The recipe says this takes about 10 minutes…I do not find that it takes that long.
  4. Transfer the spices back to the bowl and let them cool completely.
  5. When they are cool grind them into a fine powder using a spice mill or coffee grinder.
  6. Store the masala in a dry cool place in an airtight container.


This is a different kind of spice mixture.   It uses more expensive, sweeter spices that do not require roasting.  This kind of garam masala seems to be preferable in very rich cream based sauces or lamb dishes. This recipe makes just about the right amount for one or two dishes!

  • 1 Tablespoon of cardamom seeds (picked out of 1/8 to 1/4 cup cardamom pods)
  • 1 two inch stick of cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon black cumin seeds (use regular cumin seeds as a substitute)
  • 1 teaspoon whole cloves
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper corns
  • 1/4 of an average sized nutmeg
  1. Place all of the spices in a clean electric coffee or spice grinder.
  2. Process for about 40 seconds until they are finely ground.
  3. Store in a small jar with a tight fitting lid away from heat or light.

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