How to Make Garam Masala

Garam masala means "hot mixture" in Hindi, a common language in India. The dish is a blend of ground spices used in Indian curries, commonly incorporating cinnamon, roasted cumin, cloves, nutmeg and (sometimes) dried red chilli peppers. Since store-bought garam masala loses its aroma quickly, aficionados would be wise to learn how to make it at home so that they can have access to fresh garam masala whenever they crave Indian food.


  • 1 tsp whole cloves
  • 3 to 4 bay leaves
  • 2 green cardamom pods
  • 4 black cardamom pods
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1 or 2 freshly grated nutmegs
  • 6 centimeter (2.4 in) to 7 centimeter (2.8 in) Cassia bark; this has a woody, bittersweet flavor. You can easily find it in Asian supermarkets, but if you can't get hold of Cassia, use cinnamon sticks. This will give a sweeter taste, but doesn't give as much flavor as the cassia bark.


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    Crush 4 black and 2 green cardamom pods with the back of a spoon or spatula until they split. Collect the seeds from the pods with your fingers and discard the empty pods.
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    Grate one or two fresh cloves of fresh nutmeg, just enough to make about a tablespoon.
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    Heat a non-stick frying pan over a low to medium heat. Add 1 tsp of whole cloves, 3 or 4 bay leaves, the seeds of 2 green cardamoms and the seeds of 4 black cardamoms, 12 black peppercorns and break up the cassia bark into the pan.
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    Stir for about 30 seconds. This will release the aromas within the spices.
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    Remove the pan from the heat, and add the grated nutmeg. Since the nutmeg is already ground, it will burn easily if the pan is too hot. Stir slowly and constantly to keep from burning. The nutmeg will begin to brown.
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    Add contents of the pan to a spice grinder. If you don't have a spice grinder, a mortar and pestle or a clean coffee grinder will do, but a spice grinder will give a finer consistency and texture.
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    Grind the mixture to a fairly smooth powder.
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    Check to see if the spices are fully ground after grinding for about 30 seconds. Continue grinding and checking until the powder is fine.
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    Store your freshly made garam masala in an airtight glass container with metal lid and it will keep for 3 to 6 months. (Plastic absorbs flavors which are released as spice ages)


  • This is a fruity and warming spice combination, and used in a wide variety of meat and vegetable dishes. It is best to be added at the end of cooking, sprinkled sparingly, as not to overwhelm the dish.
  • Garam masala is not "hot" in the sense that chillies are, but is fairly pungent.


  • Please note there is no "one" garam masala recipe. Recipe for garam masala changes from one dish to another, from one region of India to another, and even from one cook to the next.

Things You'll Need

  • Chopping board
  • Spatula
  • Fine metal grater
  • Small bowl
  • Non-stick frying pan
  • Teaspoon
  • Spice grinder
  • Air-tight container

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