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Garam Masala

Scott Phillips

Yield: Yields about 3/4 cup

Garam masala, which means hot spice, is the Indian equivalent of the French herbes de Provence or the Chinese five spice powder. The recipe changes from region to region in northern India, with each household adding its own touch. As a rule, garam masala is added at the last step of cooking, almost like a fresh herb. If cooked too long, it tends to become bitter. Garam masala is available on some grocery store spice racks as well as in Indian markets, but for the best flavor, toast and grind your own.


  • 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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Reviews (3 reviews)

  • bhwade | 06/29/2022

    I’m going to try this, but I’d like to know if you grind up the entire pods of cardamom or extract the seeds first, then grind?

  • User avater
    ValArt | 08/25/2011

    Excellent; you will never get this flavor in a bottled garam masala.

  • Jo | 02/06/2011

    absolutely fantastic! Earthy, fragrant, amazing, easy to make. I made 1/3, which was plenty for the recipe I was making with lots left over.

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