Garam masala recipe – Step by step guide to make super flavorful & authentic garam masala that is easily customizable to your taste. Garam masala is a traditional aromatic spice blend used in Indian cooking. It not only flavors and adds zing to your Indian food but also provides you with numerous health benefits. Once you begin to make your own, you will realize how aromatic homemade garam masala is. I guarantee you will never like the store bought bottled stuff again.
Supermarket shelves are loaded with so many kinds of garam masala and unfortunately most of them lack the real thing – that’s the aroma! I have never come across anything like the homemade for the simple reason that ground spices oxidize and lose their flavor overtime. Also there is never a balance of spice, pungent, sweet and bitter tastes & flavors.
With homemade garam masala, we have the option to blend the spices in small batches and store them well so they remain much more fragrant for longer. Also it is easily customizable to balance all the flavors & tastes.
So what is garam masala?
The term ‘garam’ in Hindi means ‘warm’ or hot and ‘masala’ means a ‘spice mix’. Garam masala translates to a blend of warming spices. It’s a magic blend that provides warmth to the body, thereby detoxifying and balancing the whole body system.
Ayurveda wisdom taught our ancestors that proper incorporation of spices into our diet can preserve the overall well-being by balancing the body, mind and spirit. So spices have been an integral part of traditional Indian cooking for centuries.
But using spices appropriately is the key. In this post along with the grama masala recipe, I share with you how to use spices the right way to suit your taste and body conditions.
In India, every home has a different recipe to make garam masala depending on the regions, food habits and personal taste. This Punjabi garam masala is super flavorful and goes so well to make any vegetarian and Non-vegetarian Indian dishes from both South Indian and North Indian Cuisines.
Adding even a little of this garama masala to your everyday dishes makes a huge difference. It totally enhances the flavors, taste and brings so much life to your dishes.
Do read the complete post on how to clean spices and make garam masala powder.
Tips to make garam masala
Cleaning the spices thoroughly is very important for hygienic reasons even if you are using organic spices. In fact organic spices are more prone to infestations & are not chemically treated to meet the organic food standards.
Roasting the spices or sun drying them brings out the aroma of the essential oils in the spices. Always roast them on a very low heat so they retain the flavors.
Choosing the right spices to suit your body and taste is very important. We do not eat very hot and spicy foods as in the long run they are bad for the digestion & can cause dehydration. So this garam masala is a well balanced one that is flavorful. It is not too pungent & not acidic.
There are 2 sets of spices used in the recipe. The first one forms the base of the spice powder and is just good to use even without the second set.
The second set has optional ingredients and I have mentioned in the recipe card why they are used. I use both the sets in full. But you can choose any or all depending on the availability or preference or body type.
Know your spices
The picture below helps you to identify the spices that I have used for this garam masala powder recipe.
Green Cardamoms are one of the most aromatic ingredient used in this spic powder. I usually choose the green organic cardamoms as the lighter ones are less aromatic. I use the whole pods. You can also remove the seeds from the pods and use them.
Cinnamon: The most important spice cinnamon comes in 2 varieties. Real or Ceylon cinnamon is the right one to use and not cassia which is bad for our health. Please use google search for more info.
Fennel seeds also known as saunf is a optional ingredient. Apart from being aromatic it also balances the heat and pungent flavors from the other spices.
Star Anise also known as biryani flower is a spice that totally elevates the flavor of your garam masala. It adds sweet tones without making your food sweet. It also avoids indigestion and is great to use especially in heavy dishes.
Mace is known as javithri. Using 3 strands of mace in this recipe makes the spice powder a bit more stronger in aroma. It’s a matter of choice. Mace is a flower with several strands or petals. You will need to use only 3 petals.
Black cardamoms is one spice which is not used by many people. It is very pungent, strong and has a unique aroma. You may avoid it if you do not like the flavors.
How to clean spices for garam masala powder
1. Stones and debris have to be picked from all the spices first.
2. We generally crush few coriander seeds to check if there are worms inside. Yes many a times we can find them even if picked up from the cold storage.
3. Break open the nutmeg and check for worms. Sometimes, nutmeg turns hallow inside after being eaten up by the worms
4. For hygiene purpose cinnamon has to be cleaned. It could have a kind of larvae, fungi or infestations in the inner parts. While growing they form into curls (swirls) with several layers and we cannot see the inner part.
We generally break open the swirls or the curved parts and wipe off the inner part with a dry or damp cloth.
5. Bay leaf too could have deposits of mud or larvae behind the leaves. wipe off with dry or damp cloth or kitchen tissues.
How to make garam masala
1.Clean up all the spices as mentioned above.
2. Dry roast the spices one after the other in a heavy bottom pan until aromatic. Transfer to a wide plate and cool them. Alternately you can also spread the spices on a clean thick cloth or multilayered cloth and sundry for a day, preferably in the hot sun.
3.Cool them thoroughly.
4.Add all your spices to a jar and make a fine powder. Sieve and then powder the coarse particles again. Repeat the sieve and then set your coarse particles aside to mix in your tea powder.
5.Store garam masala in an airtight glass jar.
How to blend spices quickly
Tip: May be this is not the right way to blend a spice mix but I love this method to speed up the process. Dry roast the spices and cool them.
Chill them in the freezer for 1 to 2 hours. Transfer them to the blender jar and powder it. You will be surprised at how fast the powder gets done.
The color of the garam masala powder could slightly vary depending on the kind and quality of spices used. This is the sieved powder made from 2 batches.
How to use garam masala in your food
AS I mentioned, even a pinch of this makes any food flavorful. But if you are using to make any spicy curries, biryanis, veg curries, paneer recipes or meat curries, then ½ to ¾ tsp of this with an equal amount of coriander powder goes right for a 3 to 4 serving dish.
You can also increase the quantity of coriander seeds in this recipe by another ¼ to ½ cup & skip adding it separately.
When to add garam masala?
It depends on the dish you are preparing. It is good to follow the recipe instructions of the particular dish. In Indian cooking usually garam masala is added at one of the 2 stages of cooking. Sometimes it is added twice.
A lot of recipes call for adding it along with red chilli powder when you make the curry base. This way the whole dish is simmered along with the garam masala so it imparts delicious flavors.
The other way is to add it just before finishing off with the cooking. We just sprinkle it, mix and turn off the stove. We usually do this for stir fry dishes or in recipes where garam masala is used twice.
Garam masala recipe
For best results follow the step-by-step photos above the recipe card
Ingredients (US cup = 240ml )
- ½ cup coriander seeds (35 grams) (daniya)
- ¼ cup cumin seeds (30 grams) (jeera)
- 2 tablespoons green cardamoms (17 grams) (elaichi)
- 2 tablespoons cloves (12 grams) (laung)
- 1 tablespoon pepper corns (9 to 10 grams) kali mirch
- 6 to 8 pieces cinnamon approx. 2 inch (4 grams) (dalchini)(prefer ceylon cinnamon)
spices for aroma (optional, but recommended)
- 1 tablespoon fennel seeds (8 grams) (saunf) (avoids acidity)
- ½ small nutmeg (2 grams) ( jai phal) (avoids indigestion)
- 1 star anise (chakri phool) (avoids indigestion)
- 2 to 4 black cardamoms (1 to 2 grams) badi elaichi (for flavor, refer notes)
- 3 strands mace (javitri) (for flavor)
- 4 medium dried bay leaves (tej patta)
Preparation for garam masala
- Clean the bay leaf and inner part of cinnamon stick with a dry or damp cloth to remove dirt and larvae.
- Break open the nutmeg and check for worms.
- Pick and discard stones and debris from all the spices.
- Heat a pan & add cardamoms, bay leaf, star anise, nutmeg, mace, cinnamon, cloves and pepper.
- Roast them on a low to medium heat without burning until they begin to smell good. Transfer to a plate.
- Then add coriander seeds and roast until they smell good. Transfer this as well to the plate.
- Then add fennel seeds, roast for 30 seconds then add cumin. Repeat roasting until cumin begins to smell good.
- Transfer to the same plate and cool completely.
How to make garam masala
- Add all of these spices to a spice blender jar. Powder finely.
- Sieve and powder the coarse spices again. Then repeat the sieve.
- Store this garam masala powder in an air tight, sun dried glass jar.
- You can use up the coarse bits of spices to make your masala tea.
- For best results, weight the spices on a scale.
- Color: The color of the garam masala may differ depending on the kind and quality of spices.
- Black cardamoms give a very pungent flavor and taste. If you are not used to the strong flavor it can be reduced to 2.
- The nutrition values are for the entire recipe
- How to use: If you plan to use the garam masala in your everyday cooking, then use this in combination with coriander powder. Too much garam masala in your everyday foods may dehydrate your body.
- If you have stomach disorders like acidity, then skip cloves, bay leaf, pepper and mace. Double the quantities of fennel seeds and cardamoms. But this does alter the flavor of garam masala. I use this version as well.
Alternative quantities provided in the recipe card are for 1x only, original recipe.
For best results follow my detailed step-by-step photo instructions and tips above the recipe card.
NUTRITION INFO (estimation only)
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