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Garam Masala Recipe

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Garam Masala is an Essential Ingredient for Most Indian Curries

There is something about making your own garam masala! Homemade garam masala will take your curries up a notch or two and there is good reason for this.

Most shop-bought blends are not roasted before grinding. The roasting is essential for the flavour and aroma. Here I would like to show you how to make it along with give you tips on how to use garam masala.

Finished garam masala recipe

What is garam masala?

Garam masala is a popular spice blend in Indian cuisine, known for its warm and aromatic flavour profile. The term “garam” translates to “warm” or “heating” in Hindi, but it’s essential to note that this doesn’t necessarily refer to spiciness but rather to the warming properties of the spices.

Garam masala is a versatile spice blend used in a variety of Indian dishes, including curries, soups, stews, and rice dishes. It’s an essential component in many Indian and South Asian recipes, and different regions or households may have their own unique variations of this spice blend.

Garam masala adds depth and complexity to dishes, making it a key ingredient in Indian culinary traditions.

What spices are added to a garam masala?

The composition of garam masala can vary by region and personal preference, but it typically includes a combination of ground spices. Common ingredients found in garam masala include:

  1. Cinnamon: Adds a sweet and warm flavor.
  2. Cardamom: Contributes a floral and citrusy aroma.
  3. Cloves: Impart a strong, pungent taste.
  4. Cumin: Adds an earthy and slightly nutty flavor.
  5. Coriander: Provides a citrusy, slightly sweet taste.
  6. Black Pepper: Adds heat and depth.
  7. Nutmeg: Offers a sweet and slightly nutty flavor.
  8. Bay Leaves: Dried bay leaves may be included in some blends.

Can other spices be used?

Yes. The proportions of these spices can vary. In my recipe in the recipe card below you also add fennel and mace. Which spices you add can vary depending on the type of curry you are making but this is a good all-round blend that is delicious in any curry.  

Why should you make your own garam masala?

You might ask yourself why you would want to go to the trouble of making your own garam masala. There are some good quality brands out there after all.

The answer is simple. We enjoy our food not just through our mouths but through our noses. When you roast and grind your own garam masala, you will get a better flavour than what is available commercially. You will also notice the amazing aroma of freshly roasted and ground spices.

I demonstrate this in my curry classes. If you take a good quality garam masala and open it, you won’t be hit with the same sensational aroma that you will get from your own homemade garam masala.

Make this recipe your own.

There are literally thousands of garam masala recipes out there. Most families in India will have their own special blend. So do most restaurant chefs.

This one is mine. But you don’t have to follow the recipe exactly.

Use more of the spices you like and less of those you aren’t all that crazy about. Also, feel free to add other warming spices such as star anise, nutmeg or white peppercorns.

How do you roast the spices?

Just like there are many different recipes for garam masala, there are also different ways of roasting the spices. For this recipe, all of the spices are roasted together in one pan. 

At expensive restaurants and in the homes of keen cooks, the spices are often roasted separately. The reason for this is that all of these spices have different smoking points.

For this garam masala recipe, you only want to heat the spices over a medium heat until warm to the touch and fragrant.

Why do some chefs roast the spices separately?

The spices all have a different smoking point. So spices such as cloves which contain a lot of natural oil will begin to smoke much faster than cinnamon.

If your spices are smoking, then they are burning and they will take on a bitter flavour.

This is why I recommend toasting your ingredients together in the pan just until they are warm to the touch and fragrant. See smoke? Get your spices off the heat!

Why do you roast the spices?

I liken unroasted and roasted spices to the difference between white bread and toast.

When you roast the spices, it releases their natural oils and gives the spices more depth of flavour. 

How long does garam masala keep?

Once you roast and grind your spices into a garam masala, the flavour soon begins to weaken. This is why it is always a good idea to purchase whole spices and make your own garam masala. Whole spices will last a very long time stored in air-tight containers.

Ground garam masala will keep for about 3 months but you will notice that the delicious aroma you get from fresh garam masala goes after about a day.

When I make garam masala at home, I tend to make a large batch like the recipe in the recipe card below and store it in an air-tight container in a dark location to use as required. If I am making a special dinner, I roast and grind the spices on the day I prepare the dish.

What is the difference between garam masala and curry powder?

As mentioned above, garam masala is a mixture of warming spices. It never includes other ingredients such as chilli powder, dried garlic, onion and ginger.

Although curry powder has been around for centuries, it wasn’t until the end of the British Raj that it became a popular ingredient in Western cupboards.

Curry powder offered a way for returning British people to enjoy the Indian food they missed so much back in the UK. Hard to find ingredients at the time such as fresh ginger, garlic and chillies are added to curry powders as well as fenugreek. This curry powder was originally added to stews to give them a curry-like flavour.

A special note about cardamom pods.

Cardamom seeds add a delicious flavour to any garam masala. The thing is, there is little to no flavour in the pods themselves. The flavour comes from the seeds.

Although many people roast the pods whole, you will not get the benefit of roasting cardamom unless you remove the seeds from the pods.

How do you add garam masala to a curry?

Often, garam masala is added to a curry when other ground spices are added. There is nothing wrong with that.

You should, however also add a little at the end of cooking to get the full flavour and aroma benefit from the spice blend.

Simply sprinkle a teaspoon or so over your finished curry, just before serving. You will be very happy you did. 

Step by step photographs

Ingredients for the garam masala recipe

Get all your spices together before starting as they are all roasted at the same time.

Removing the seeds from the cardamom pods.

For best results, smash the cardamom pods and remove the seeds. You can roast the cardamom pods but you will not roast the seeds which is important for flavour.

Roasting whole spices in a pan.

Roast the spices together over a medium heat until fragrant and warm to the touch. Do not let the spices smoke or they will become bitter.

Spices cooling on a plate.

Transfer the roasted spices to a plate to cool. You need to allow them to cool before grinding or they will cake up.

Grinding the spices in a spice grinder.

Grind the spices in a spice grinder or pestle and mortar. Spice grinders are much quicker and easier.

How find should you grind your spices?

This is really up to you. In India, garam masala is often coarsely ground. In the west, most garam masala recipes call for the spices to be finely ground. I like both.

In the photo above, the spices are coarsely ground.

Continuing to grind the spices for the garam masala

If you prefer a finer garam masala, keep grinding until you are happy. With my grinder, the powder actually sticks to the top as it becomes fine. 

Which spice grinder is best for grinding the spices?

I grind a lot of spices every week so I invested in a high quality grinder. It was quite expensive but has lasted for over 5 years now so it was a good investment.

You could get away with a cheap spice grinder though you might need to grind a bit longer and in smaller batches.

Can you use a pestle and mortar to make garam masala?

Yes. That’s how it was done for centuries before spice grinders existed.

It will take longer to grind your spices to a powder but you will get great results using a pestle and mortar.

Pouring the garam masala into an air-tight container.

If not using immediately, store your garam masala in an air-tight container and use within three months.

Garam masala

Your garam masala is best used the day you roast and grind it. Feel free to downscale the recipe to make less when needed.


Here are some more popular spice blends you might like to try.

Madras Curry Powder
Chaat Masala
Tamil Curry Powder
Punjabi Chole Masala

Have you tried this garam masala recipe?

If you have, please give it a star rating in the recipe card below and leave a comment. I love receiving feedback and I’m sure other readers of my blog appreciate your feedback too. Thank you. 

Yield: 20

Garam Masala Recipe

Finished garam masala recipe

Homemade garam masala will take your curries and tandoori dishes to a whole new level. For best results, use your garam masala the day you roast and grind the spices. You can keep it for up to three months in an air-tight container. This garam masala recipe can be downscaled to make less if you like.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes


  • 3 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 3 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 3 tsp black peppercorns
  • 2 tbsp fennel seeds
  • 1 1/2 tsp cloves
  • 1 x 2.5cm (1 inch) piece cassia bark or cinnamon stick
  • 2 dried Indian bay leaves (optional)
  • 10 green cardamom pods
  • 2 large pieces of mace


  1. Remove the seeds from the cardamom pods for best results. Then place all the spices in a large frying pan.
  2. Toast the spices over a medium heat until warm to the touch and fragrant. Do not allow them to smoke or they will turn bitter. Transfer the roasted spices to a plate to cool some.
  3. Once cooled, place in a spice grinder or pestle and mortar and grind to a coarse or fine powder.
  4. Place the garam masala powder in an air-tight container in a dark place and use as needed. Use within three months as the spices will begin to lose flavour.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 10Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 3mgCarbohydrates: 2gFiber: 1gSugar: 0gProtein: 0g

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Ian James

Thursday 3rd of March 2022

A question about ingredients quantified by length, cassia bark in this particular instance. As none of the cassia bark in the pack I have bought is of uniform width (3cm) or thickness (from 3mm) what sort of weight should I be aiming for with the 3 inches specified here? This would equally apply to other recipes, i.e. "5cm (2in) piece of ginger, peeled and roughly chopped", which could open to a wide range of interpretations.

Dan Toombs

Thursday 10th of March 2022

The exact quantities aren't really important, they are just estimates. Add gradually and taste as you go if you are concerned but you won't make a bad curry if you use a thicker piece of say ginger or cassia bark than average. Thanks Dan

Chenelle Engelbrecht

Wednesday 30th of December 2020

Your recipe sounds divine (I prefer to read recipes over books). Is the mace and fennel seeds an absolute must in the recipe? Where I come from originally, these are not available.


Dan Toombs

Monday 4th of January 2021

Just miss out the mace and fennel seeds if you can't get hold of them. Thanks Dan

Eric Paget

Monday 13th of May 2019

Have really enjoyed your recipes however was puzzled by your mutter paneer as it tasted like spicy cream of tomato soup. Given the ingredients of tomato and cream and no coriander or cumin i should not have been surprised. Will consider the ingredients more in the future. The stuffed fried chillies were great.

Dan Toombs

Wednesday 29th of May 2019

Hi Eric

Please use my recipes as guides. Use other ingredients too. If you think it sounds good, it probably will be. Glad you liked the stuffed chillies.

Thanks, Dan

Gayle Early

Friday 29th of March 2019

Was looking for a garam masala recipe for chana masala and took a gander across the pond. So nice to look up your work, old friend! I never thought about roasting the spices separately (and letting them cool before grinding). Makes perfect sense, Dan! Thanks for the details! Congrats on your books. I'll look for them over here. Tschuess und bis bald!

Dan Toombs

Wednesday 3rd of April 2019

Great to hear from you Gayle! Nice to hear you are using the recipes too. Thank you very much. Keep in touch.



Friday 5th of January 2018


You quantities seem to be quite large. At the moment there is only me and the wife that eat curry in the house (there are three small children whom I'm working on to enjoy the loce of curry so one day hopefully there'll be a house full)

Can I simply reduce the quantities as I dont want to make mor ethan I need at present. Same question on your base gravy.

Dan Toombs

Tuesday 9th of January 2018

Hi Gary

Definitely. Just half the quantities. Most of my recipes serve four but there is no reason you can't make less.

Cheers, Dan

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