Garam Masala Recipe

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Garam Masala is the quintessential and evergreen everyday Indian spice mix added to Indian food. A homemade garam masala powder offers so much of flavor, fragrance, taste, spice, heat and some pungency in your everyday Indian dishes. Here I share two recipes which are a family heirloom and give you the best garam masala recipe, that you will make again and again.

garam masala powder in a glass jar on a brown wooden tray

There are many ways this essential spice mix is made in Indian households. I share the following two variations.

  1. Everyday Classic Garam Masala Recipe
  2. Authentic Punjabi Garam Masala Recipe

Both are easily doable great recipes and will complement your Indian dishes in a great way.

What is Garam Masala?

It is an aromatic and complex flavored spice blend. “Garam” in Hindi translates to warm or warming or hot in English. The word “Masala” means a blend of spices.

Hence the term garam masala means a warming spice blend – which is true since the whole spices make the spice mix warming and heaty.

So adding this spice blend in your food does make the body warm. The spices also are good for the tummy as they have both medicinal and digestive properties.

Not only garam masala adds aroma and flavor but also seasons your food.

Why This Recipe Works

This everyday garam masala has intense, fragrant and awesome flavors. The difference it makes to the everyday dal or curry or sabzi is super.

Since the masala is intense and strong, I suggest to add about ¼ to ½ teaspoon for 4 to 5 servings in a recipe.

It is gluten free and is made with easily available spices. The spices can be found in any superstore or in an asian or Indian grocery store. You can buy them online as well.

The garam masala recipe has one unique ingredient which can be skipped easily – dried rose petals. Adding them is not at all essential.

Not everybody will have dried rose petals. If you have then add. If you do not, then no need to add. Simply omit them.

Even without adding them, your garam masala is still going to be good. I make this recipe without rose petals too. It is just that with rose petals there is a hint of the fragrance of rose in the masala.

Sun-drying or roasting spices

The spices can be sun-dried, oven-dried or roasted in a pan. If you live in India, you will get good sunlight during the days in the summers. I have sun dried the whole spices for 2 days. Though you can roast the spices one by one in a pan on a low flame till aromatic and then grind them.

You can also heat dry the spices in an oven. The oven has to be set at its lowest temperature. The temperature can range anywhere between 50 degrees celsius (122 degrees fahrenheit) to 80 degrees celsius (194 degrees fahrenheit). Depending on the temperature range, you may dry them for about 6 hours to 15 hours.

This recipe yields about 190 grams of ground garam masala. The ingredient proportions in the recipe can be easily halved or doubled.

Ingredients You Need

I have shared an image below listing the ingredients for the everyday garam masala recipe.

This will help you as a handy reckoner for the quantity of spices to be used. I have given the cup, tablespoon and the gram, ounces equivalents in the recipe card below.

collage of the garam masala spices

Garam masala essentially comprises of whole spices that are fragrant, pungent, sweet, hot and smoky.

All these spices are the backbone of Indian cooking. Our food has these spices in less or more amounts – either added whole or ground.

One cannot imagine Indian food without spices. They add so much flavor and have many health benefits as well. Some of these spices like cumin, fennel seeds, ground ginger, help in digestion.

Tips

Prepping Tips

  • First take all the spices in a plate or tray. Then check if they have stones, chaffs or husks.
  • Make sure there is no hidden mold or fungi or insects growing on them. If yes, then discard these spices.
  • Use fresh spices and not old or rancid ones.
  • Sun dry or roast the spices in a pan or skillet.
  • While using cinnamon, use the true cinnamon (ceylon cinnamon) and not cassia. Kindly search on google to know the difference between true cinnamon and cassia.

Homemade spice mixes or masalas are the best. Like me if you prepare masala at home, then you will agree on this point.

You are in control of the ingredients that you add. They are also preservatives and additives free. You can also buy the best quality spices or organic spices.

garam masala powder in a glass  jar on a brown wooden tray
Step-by-Step Guide

How to make Garam Masala

Preparation & sun drying spices

1. First take each spice in a plate or bowl and check for stone, husks, or any hidden mold or insects. Discard the stones or husks.

If the spices have mold or there are insects or worms in them, then discard the spices and do not use them.

Spread the whole spices in a plate or tray. Spread them. Keep in the sun for 2 to 3 days.

TIP: If you do not have sunlight, then dry roast/toast each spice separately in a skillet or pan on low heat. Stir often when roasting the spices. Roast until lightly aromatic. Do not brown the spices.

whole spices arranged on a steel plate

2. While sun drying, cover with a sieved lid or a muslin or loosely woven cotton napkin, so that dust does not fall on the spices. During day time, I would keep the spices out. During night, I would keep the plate inside with a loose lid covering it.

whole spices being sun dried

3. The below photo is of spices after being sun dried for 2 days. After getting sun dried, there is no trace of any moisture on the spices and they also become slightly crisp.

Like I have mentioned above, if you do not want to sun-dry, then roast each spice in a pan on a low heat till the spices release their essential oil becoming aromatic. Stir often when roasting the spices and do not burn them.

sun dried whole spices

4. Before you begin grinding the whole spices, take the nutmeg in a mortar-pestle and crush it coarsely. Set aside.

crushed nutmeg in a mortar

Making garam masala

5. Now add all the whole spices in the dry grinder jar. Break the cinnamon and then add. You can also use a coffee grinder. Add according to the capacity of the jar. Grind in batches of 1 to 3.

I ground all the masala at once. If grinding in batches, then after each batch, remove the ground masala powder in a plate or bowl. Then lastly mix very well with a spoon, before storing in a jar.

spiced added in a grinder

6. Then add the coarsely crushed nutmeg powder.

crushed nutmeg added on the whole spices in the grinder

7. Next add 2 tablespoons ginger powder. You can skip ginger powder if you do not have it.

ground ginger powder added

8. Grind to a smooth powder.

spices finely ground to make garam masala

9. If using dried rose petals, then add them at this step. Again I mention here that adding rose petals is optional and you can skip if you do not have. 

dried rose petals added

10. Grind again.

garam masala powder ready

11. If you want, you can sift the powder and grind the tiny bits left on the sieve. Let the powder cool down.

You can spread it on a plate or allow it to cool in the grinder jar itself. Then spoon the powder in a clean glass jar.

homemade garam masala powder placed in a glass jar

Storage

Cover tightly and keep in a cool dry place. You can also keep it in the fridge or freezer. This recipe yields about 190 grams of garam masala. Always store it in an air-tight jar in a cool dry place.

garam masala in a glass  jar on a brown wooden tray

How to use garam masala powder?

A small to medium batch of this warm complex spice blend is all that you need to liven up the dal, curries and veggie preparations that you make.

It is always better not to make a large batch as the aroma wanes out with time. It is added in many popular recipes like samosa, chana masala, paneer lababdar, bhindi masala, paneer tikka masala etc.

When and how much to add?

Garam masala can be added during the cooking process or after the cooking is done. For a serving of 4 to 5, about ¼ to ½ teaspoon of garam masala is sprinkled as this spice blend is very strong.

Less is more here. Thus avoid adding too much of it in your dishes. More of this spice mix in any dish unbalances it making the taste go awry.

Adding a little does the work and beautifully harmonizes and balances the flavors, tastes and aroma in the food very well.

Garam Masala vs Curry Powder

Garam masala is completely different than curry powder. Authentically and traditionally in India, curry powder has never been made or nor used in any recipes.

In fact most Indians are not even aware of what curry powder is, but any Indian homemaker will know about garam masala. Curry powder is the invention of the british traders.

Every kitchen in India will have a jar or bottle of garam masala. Some families even have their own secret recipes for making it.

Curry powder is a blend of many aromatic and sweet spices as compared to garam masala which has lesser spices.

Curry powder also has turmeric powder in it. Curry powder is also mild with sweet notes unlike garam masala which is highly aromatic and intense.

Two Types

Broadly categorizing, there are two types of garam masala made.

1. Pakka Garam Masala – In this method, the spices are roasted until they become aromatic releasing their essential oils. These roasted spices are then ground and what you get is the pakka version – which here refers to cooked garam masala.

The word ‘pakka’ in hindi means ‘cooked’. It is always sprinkled on the food once it is done. Since the spices are already cooked, you don’t need to cook them further.

Most of the packaged garam masala are pakka versions. The ones which are made regularly in Indian homes are also pakka garam masala. So the spice blend is sprinkled on the food once the dish has been cooked.

2. Kaccha garam masala – In this method, the spices are not roasted or “cooked” but they are sun-dried for a few days and then ground. Sun-drying draws any extra moisture from them making them lightly crisp.

In hindi ‘kaccha’ literally means ‘raw’. The garam masala powder needs to be cooked for the spices to bring out their flavor and aroma. Thereby kaccha garam masala is added when the food is being cooked.

It can also be added once the food is done. Then simmer or cook the dish for a few more minutes so that the raw flavors of the spices are not felt.

The recipe that I have shared here is actually kaccha garam masala. But you can use the same proportions and make pakka garam masala by roasting the spices in a skillet or frying pan.

This information and knowledge on the two categories of this traditional spice mix comes from my family and my very long experience with Indian cooking.

Variations

There are regional variations of making this ground spice mix in India. The proportions and types of spices used are different. The Punjabi Garam Masala recipe (which I have shared below) has more coriander seeds and aromatic spices.

The Punjabi garam masala is my mom in law’s recipe and a heirloom one. Every Punjabi home has their own versions of making this spice blend.

Some variations of garam masala recipe do not include coriander seeds. Coriander is a cooling spice and adding these does reduce the heat in the masala. I add them in my recipe for aroma, flavor and to balance the heat.

About Punjabi Garam Masala

This is an important Indian spice blend that is a must in every Punjabi home. The humble dal (lentils) or vegetable dishes (sabzi) are taken to another level when you add a bit of this aromatic spice blend in these dishes.

homemade punjabi garam masala in a jar on a cream jute fabric

This aromatic and strong spice blend is added in most Punjabi recipes like chana masala, paneer butter masala, kadai paneer, palak paneer, kadhi pakora, malai kofta, dum aloo and so on.

When we make this masala, we don’t roast the spices. We just sun dry them and then powder the spices. If you prefer, you can lightly dry roast the spices instead of sun-drying them. But don’t roast the dry ginger.

I usually add ¼ to ½  teaspoon of this Punjabi garam masala to the lentils, vegetable dishes or curries I make for a serving of 4.

A picture below of the spices used for making the punjabi garam masala recipe.

whole spices for Punjabi garam masala

Step-by-step Punjabi Garam Masala

Sun drying

1: Pick the cumin (jeera) and coriander (dhania) for are any stones. Spread the spices in a tray or a plate.

Keep the plate with the whole spices in sunlight for 2 to 3 days. With a spoon turn over the spices sometimes when they are getting the sun light.

spices on a large plate kept in sunlight

Grinding spices

2: In a very good dry grinder or coffee grinder, first grind the dry ginger. Dry ginger (saunth) is the toughest to grind. So I always grind it first.

You can also use 2 tablespoons ground ginger powder instead of dry whole ginger. You can still see a small bit of dry ginger still left after grinding.

grinding dry ginger root in a spice grinder

3: The next one to grind is the nutmeg (jaiphal). Now in the same jar add the cinnamon sticks and whole nutmeg.

The cinnamon sticks (dalchini) should be broken and added to the dry grinder. You can grate the nutmeg and also add. You choose what suits you the best.

cinnamon and nutmeg added to spice grinder

4: Grind these spices to a fine powder. Remove in a bowl.

ground spices in spice grinder

5: Now add the rest of the spices to the dry grinder.

more spices added to dry grinder

6: Grind these too to a fine powder.

punjabi garam masala ready and ground in a spice grinder

7: Add it to the bowl where the previously powdered dry ginger (saunth), nutmeg, Indian bay leaves (tejpatta) and cinnamon were kept. Mix very well.

If you have a powerful grinder, then just add all the spices and grind to a fine powder.

punjabi garam masala placed in a yellow bowl
punjabi garam masala in a jar

8: Store in an air-tight container in a cool dry place. It keeps well for a year. You can add this spice blend to your everyday curries, lentils, veggies and rice dishes.

This Punjabi garam masala is added in many popular Punjabi recipes like samosa, paneer lababdar, bhindi masala, rajma recipe, lauki kofta, paneer tikka masala etc.

Few more Indian spice mixes for you!

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garam masala powder in a glass jar on a brown wooden tray

Garam Masala Recipe

4.94 from 16 votes
Aromatic, strong, intense and flavorful homemade garam masala recipe. Garam masala is an essential spice mix used to flavor and season Indian food.
Prep Time 15 mins
Total Time 15 mins

Cuisine Indian, North Indian
Course: Condiment
Diet: Gluten Free, Vegan
Difficulty Level: Easy

Servings 42 teaspoons
Units

Ingredients

  • ½ cup cumin seeds or 63 grams
  • ¼ cup coriander seeds (sabut dhania) or 18 grams
  • ¼ cup fennel seeds (saunf) or 24 grams
  • 2 tablespoons caraway seeds (shah jeera) or 9 grams
  • 2 tablespoons mace (javitri) or 8 grams
  • 10 cinnamon sticks (dalchini) – each of about 2 to 3 inches, 7 grams
  • 2 tablespoons cloves (lavang) or 12 grams
  • 20 green cardamoms or 4 grams
  • 6 black cardamoms or 4 grams
  • 1 nutmeg (jaiphal)
  • 10 tej patta (indian bay leaf) or 2 grams
  • 2 tablespoons dry ginger powder – ground ginger (saunth), optional
  • 2 tablespoons black pepper or 20 grams
  • 3 tablespoons rose petals (optional)

Instructions

  • First take the whole spices one by one. Then check for stones, chaff or any hidden mold in them.
  • Discard the stones, chaff or husks. If there are any insects or mold or fungi, then discard the spices. Don’t use them.
  • Add the whole spices in a plate or tray. Keep the plate in the sun for 2 to 3 days.
  • While being sun dried, cover with a sieved lid or a muslin or loosely woven cotton napkin, so that dust does not fall on the spices, when they are being sun dried. During the day, I would keep the spices out. During night, I would keep the plate inside with a loose lid covering it.
  • After getting sun dried, there is no trace of moisture in the spices and they also become slightly crisp.
  • Before you begin, grinding the whole spices, take the nutmeg in a mortar-pestle and crush it coarsely. Keep aside.
  • Now add all the whole spices in the dry grinder jar. Break the cinnamon, tej patta and then add. You can also use a coffee grinder. Add according to the capacity of the jar.
  • Then add the coarsely crushed nutmeg powder.
  • Next add 2 tablespoons ginger powder.
  • Grind to a smooth powder. You can grind in 1 or 2 batches.
  • If using dried rose petals, then add them at this step. If you don’t have rose petals then skip adding them. Again grind.
  • If you want, you can sift it and grind the tiny bits left on the sieve.
  • Let the powder cool down. You can spread it in a plate or allow it to cool in the grinder jar itself. Then spoon the powder in a clean glass jar.
  • Cover tightly and keep in a cool dry place. You can also keep it in the fridge or freezer. This recipe yields about 190 grams of garam masala.

Notes

  • Take all the spices in a plate or tray and check if they have stones, chaffs or husks. Discard these.
  • Do make sure there is no mold or fungi or insects growing on them. If yes, then discard these spices.
  • Use fresh spices and not old or rancid ones.
  • Sun dry or roast the spices in a pan or skillet.
  • While using cinnamon, do use true cinnamon (ceylon cinnamon) and not cassia.
  • The approximate nutrition info is for 1 teaspoon of garam masala. 

Nutrition Info Approximate values

Nutrition Facts
Garam Masala Recipe
Amount Per Serving
Calories 18 Calories from Fat 9
% Daily Value*
Fat 1g2%
Saturated Fat 1g6%
Sodium 4mg0%
Potassium 67mg2%
Carbohydrates 3g1%
Fiber 2g8%
Sugar 1g1%
Protein 1g2%
Vitamin A 23IU0%
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) 1mg67%
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) 1mg59%
Vitamin B3 (Niacin) 1mg5%
Vitamin B6 1mg50%
Vitamin C 1mg1%
Vitamin E 1mg7%
Vitamin K 1µg1%
Calcium 39mg4%
Vitamin B9 (Folate) 1µg0%
Iron 1mg6%
Magnesium 14mg4%
Phosphorus 16mg2%
Zinc 1mg7%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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punjabi garam masala powder recipe

Punjabi Garam Masala

4.91 from 11 votes
Aromatic, flavorful and authentic Punjabi garam masala powder is an Indian spice blend added to North Indian dishes, especially from the Punjabi cuisine.
Prep Time 3 d
Total Time 3 d

Cuisine Indian, Punjabi
Course: Condiment
Diet: Gluten Free, Vegan
Difficulty Level: Easy

Servings 45 teaspoons
Units

Ingredients

  • ½ cup coriander seeds
  • ¼ cup cumin seeds
  • 9 pieces cinnamon – each stick having an approx size of about 2.5 to 3 inches
  • 2 tablespoons cloves
  • 10 tejpatta
  • 10 black cardamoms
  • 2 tablespoons green cardamoms
  • 1.5 tablespoons black peppercorns
  • 1 piece dry ginger about 1 inch or 2 tablespoons ground ginger powder
  • 1 nutmeg

Instructions

  • Pick the coriander and cumin seeds of stones.
  • Spread the whole spices on a plate or thali.
  • Keep in the sun for 2 to 3 days.
  • Grind the dry ginger first.
  • Then add the broken cinnamon sticks and nutmeg.
  • Grind to a fine powder and keep aside.
  • Now add the rest of the spices and grind to fine powder.
  • Mix both the spice powder batches well.
  • Store punjabi garam masala in an air-tight container or jar.
  • You can also refrigerate this spice blend.

Notes

The approximate nutrition info is for 1 teaspoon of punjabi garam masala. 

Nutrition Info Approximate values

Nutrition Facts
Punjabi Garam Masala
Amount Per Serving
Calories 10 Calories from Fat 9
% Daily Value*
Fat 1g2%
Saturated Fat 1g6%
Sodium 2mg0%
Potassium 39mg1%
Carbohydrates 2g1%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 1g1%
Protein 1g2%
Vitamin A 10IU0%
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) 1mg67%
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) 1mg59%
Vitamin B3 (Niacin) 1mg5%
Vitamin B6 1mg50%
Vitamin C 1mg1%
Vitamin E 1mg7%
Vitamin K 1µg1%
Calcium 19mg2%
Iron 1mg6%
Magnesium 8mg2%
Phosphorus 9mg1%
Zinc 1mg7%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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This post is from the archives and has been republished and updated on 19 May 2020. 

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Welcome to Dassana's Veg Recipes. I share vegetarian recipes from India & around the World. Having been cooking for decades and with a professional background in cooking & baking, I help you to make your cooking journey easier with my tried and tested recipes showcased with step by step photos & plenty of tips & suggestions.

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