Garam Masala is a fragrant blend of locally grown spices from the Indian subcontinent, similar in concept to the French herb de Provence or Chinese five-spice powder. The basic composition of this blend differs by region, since the climate and soil-type varies all over India. Plus, almost every household has their own spin on homemade garam masala based on their taste preference.
Garam masala is a ground mix of whole spices like cumin, coriander seeds, cloves, cinnamon bark, cardamom, etc. I start by lightly roasting whole spices to release their flavor and aroma. Then, I cool the spice blend and grind it to a fine consistency, using a coffee grinder. If stored in a cool and dry place, this homemade garam masala stays fresh for months.
Ground vs. Whole Spices
This blend is my grandmother’s recipe for Garam Masala. Most of my curry and Indian recipes on this blog call for garam masala as one of the main flavoring components. Some traditional Indian recipes ask for whole spices, to add a stronger aroma and flavor to the dishes. These whole spices are not pleasant to bite on, so they have to be fished out before serving. I prefer to use this blend instead to make my life easier.
Homemade garam masala beats store-bought any day. But for busier times, I always have a store-bought back-up in my pantry. I have tried many brands and find the Frontier Garam Masala blend to be a close substitute. I feel it’s well-balanced and no single spice overpowers the others.
Homemade Garam Masala RecipePrint Recipe
- Spices for roasting and grinding
- 1/2 cup Coriander Seeds
- 1/4 cup Cumin Seeds
- 1 tablespoons Whole Cloves
- 1 tablespoon Peppercorn (Whole)
- 1 tablespoon Green Cardamom Pods
- 2 Black Cardamom Pods Whole
- 1 large or 2 small Star Anise
- 1 tablespoon Fennel Seeds
- 3 inch Cinnamon Stick, broken into 1 inch pieces
- 4 Bay Leaf, torn onto small pieces
- Add after blending
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated Nutmeg
Check all spices and remove any rotten pieces or dirt. Check cloves and remove any stems without buds. Break the cinnamon into smaller pieces, and clean the dirt between the grooves. Add all spices to a large skillet, except nutmeg. Lightly toast these spices, on medium heat, for about 2 minutes, stirring every 20 seconds or so. The spices are done when they start releasing their aroma. Turn off the heat. Transfer to a plate to stop the roasting. Cool for 10 minutes.
Using a coffee/spice grinder, grind this mix in 3-4 batches. Give it a good shake in between to prevent spices from clumping. Grind to a fine texture. Add freshly grated nutmeg and mix everything. Store in an air-tight container, in a cool and dry place.