Garam Masala is a warming, aromatic spice blend from the Indian subcontinent. Blends vary by country and region (some families even have their own special blend) and it can be used on its own or in combination with other spices.
Garam masala is to Indian, Pakistani, and Nepali cuisine what Ras el Hanout is to Moroccan cuisine - an all-purpose spice blend that has many variations that claim to be the best.
What is Garam Masala made of?
Garam masala blends are typically made from whole spices that are ground together to form a powder.
Garam masala blends vary by region and family but often contain some mixture of coriander, cumin, fennel, cloves, peppercorns, and bay leaves. A blend might also have a special ingredient like cardamom pods or dried rose petals.
Recipes using Garam Masala
If you’re looking for inspiration for using garam masala, we recommend these recipes! It's delicious in curries and soups, pairs well with lentils and chickpeas, and tastes great on chicken.
- Chana Masala - a northern Indian recipe that is made from a blend of spices, tomatoes, and chickpeas.
- Coconut Lentil Curry - a hearty, vegan recipe. It’s got wonderful flavors and spices.
- Butter Chicken - Super easy and creamy butter chicken, that tastes better than any Indian takeout!
- Chicken Korma - an Indian dish of chicken simmered in a bath of ginger, garlic, onions, spices, coconut cream & tomato sauce.
- Grilled Tandoori Chicken Kabobs - super easy to make on the grill and the results are tender and delicious!
- Easy Bombay Aloo - an easy recipe potato recipe that is ready in just 20 minutes and is perfect alongside a curry
- Chicken Tikka Masala - has creamy tomato sauce mixed with various different chili powders and boneless skinless chicken, that can be meal prepped or frozen for days ahead.
- Sweet Potato Curry with Chickpeas - a perfect, comforting vegan weeknight dinner that’s ready in 40 minutes
- Instant Pot Corn on the Cob Curry - fresh sweetcorn is cooked in a delicious onion, garlic, and tomato gravy with creamy coconut milk.
Which Garam Masala brand is the best?
When you're buying spices online, it's important to choose brands you trust - so your spices will be the highest quality and freshest. We recommend this Garam Masala blend from The Spice House.
If you'd prefer to get it on Amazon, we also like Morton & Bassett Garam Masala blend.
What does Garam Masala taste like?
Garam masala is a warming and bold spice blend that has a little heat from the pepper, but it's not spicy.
Garam masala tastes similar to curry powders and will likely taste familiar to you as it has commonly used spices like cumin and coriander.
Garam Masala Substitutes
If you don't have garam masala, you can substitute it for yellow curry powder or a mixture of 3 parts cumin to 1 part allspice.
How to Make Garam Masala
If you want to make your own garam masala blend, the easiest way to do it is to use ground spices. Here's our favorite easy garam masala recipe.
- 1 tablespoon ground coriander
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon cardamom
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- Combine all the spices and stir till fully combined.
- Store in an airtight container for up to 3 months.