Garam Masala

Indian cuisine is one of the oldest and more complex culinary traditions around and there are many different regional varieties because India is a huge continent.

Garam masala is a spice mixture that is fundamental in Indian cuisine.  Garam means hot in Hindi and masala means mixture so together they represent a hot (as in spicy) mixture of dried spices.

So if you’re cooking a proper curry, you have to use garam masala rather than the generic substance which passes for curry in most US supermarkets.

You can think of garam masala as a more sophisticated curry powder and once you learn to prepare your own garam masala, you will be amazed at the flavor profiles you will be able to produce when you cook Indian food.

A garam masala mixture usually consists of tumeric, black and white peppercorns, cloves, cinnamon, cumin seeds and cardamon pods.


You can buy premade garam masala but preparing your own mixture ahead of time takes minimal effort and is so much more adaptable because you can vary the taste depending on your preferences.

There might be an initial investment upfront for the different spices but the cost is minimal especially if you have access to an Indian or Asian grocery store.  You can buy the spices in bulk and then mix your own masala.

Here is an easy recipe for garam masala.  Here is another recipe for a basic Indian curry called Murgh Kari.


Next time you have an inkling for cooking Indian food, try adding garam masala instead of curry powder.  You will be amazed at the difference.


6 comments to Garam Masala

  • Kathryn  says:

    I have most of those spices in the cupboard so I should give it a go :)

    • Lila  says:

      Thanks for stopping by. Garam masala is easy to prepare and I promise you won’t regret it. :)

  • Corinne  says:

    Lila, Your posts always make me hungry.

    • Lila  says:

      Then I guess I fulfilled my mission! 😉 Thanks as always for stopping by and your supportive words. Really appreciate it! :)

  • BuzzingBee  says:

    Just as an addendum, garam masala is pretty much used all over the country now (perhaps not so much in the east and Northeast). I think at some point, people got tired of all the roasting and grinding, and just switched to using this.

    Home-made versions are far superior to the ready-bought ones, though, since they can be customised. I have family members who use upto 18 ingredients in theirs!

    • Lila  says:

      Thank You for the addendum. I appreciate it and yes, home made garam masala is so much better than store bought ones and I love mixing mine because it always makes me feel like I am practicing alchemy. :)

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