Hot Masala! Making your own Garam Masalas – A wealth of recipes

Make your own Garam Masala

If you have ever cooked Indian, you will have heard of Garam Masala. It is a wonderfully warm and versatile mix of spices used in a range of Indian dishes. Not necessarily hot (in the chilli sense), but consists of spices that warm the body, such as cardamom, cloves and cinnamon.

The word Garam means hot and Masala means spices, so the mixture of spices are traditionally those that heat the body according to the ayurvedic system of medicine. I think the words garam and masala are Hindi words, but I might be mistaken. There are hundreds of languages in India – if it is from another language, please let me know.

The spices used are all very aromatic as well. But often when you buy Garam Masala off the shelf, the commercial mixtures often cut down on the more expensive cardamom and fill up with the cheaper coriander and cumin. So why don’t you make your own? It is a wonderful process and the results are STUNNING. If you have never tasted a home made spice powder, this is your chance.

Generally, Garam Masala should be sprinkled over food towards the end of the cooking to retain its aroma. The Garam Masala spices can be used whole, but more traditionally, they are ground together in a mortar and pestle. If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, quick! Go and buy a strong, large, solid one from your local Indian or Chinese Shop. You will never regret the purchase. If you can’t rush out and buy one, well, a blender or spice grinder will do. I prefer the taste from grinding, but it is certainly Ok to use a more mechanical method.

[Update: These days (2013) I am more prone to using a spice grinder, for quick grinding to a powder consistency.]

There are as many Garam Masala recipes as households in India. Here are some for you to choose from. If you have any others that you use, please add them in the comments.

Different Garam Masala recipes highlight different spices, for example, some contain predominately coriander, others perhaps highlight nutmeg.

How to select a mix?

The first time that you make Garam Masala, you may not have a large range of ingredients in your pantry – select a recipe that most closely matches your available ingredients. After that, visit your Indian shop or local spice supplier and add various spices to you pantry cupboard.

How to make the mix?

Dry roast all ingredients separately in a kadhai (Indian wok) or frying pan, shaking the pan frequently, until the are starting to brown and a wonderful spicy aroma arises. Be careful not to burn. Mix together the whole ingredients and store in an air-tight container in the fridge.

When required, grind the whole roasted masala ingredients to a fine powder in a mortar, spice grinder or blender, and use as directed in the recipe. Store in an airtight jar.

Spices ground

The recipes for Garam Masala

Adjust the proportions to suit your own preferences.

Hyderabadi Garam Masala

20g Cinnamon, 20g Peppercorns, 20g Cloves, 20g Green Cardamom, 15g Indian Bayleaf, 25g Black Cardamom, 10g Nutmeg, 10g Mace, 10g Fennel Seeds.

Hyderabadi Garam Masala with Saffron and Black Cumin

2 tspn saffron threads, 1/4 cup black pepper, 1/4 cup black cumin seeds, 1/4 cup cloves, 1/4 cup cinnamon, 1/4 cup green cardamom seeds


25 cm stick Cinnamon, 2.5 tspns black Peppercorns, 1 Tblspn Cloves, 4g Green Cardamom, 3 stalks Curry Leaf, 3 Tblspn Cumin Seeds.

VERY Simple

10g Cinnamon, 10g Cloves, 10g Green Cardamom, 10g Black Cardamom.


5 cm stick Cinnamon, 1 Tblspn Peppercorns, 1 Tblspn Cloves, 2 tspn Green Cardamom seeds (not pods), 0.5 tsp grated Nutmeg, 5 Mace blades.


20g Cinnamon, 20g Peppercorns, 20g Cloves, 20gGreen Cardamom, 100g Nutmeg, 20g Mace, 20g Star Anise.


Cinnamon, Peppercorns, Cloves, Green Cardamom, Cumin Seeds, Ajwain, Peppercorns, dried fenugreek leaves, Coriander Seed, Curry Leaves, Bay leaves, Black Cumin Seeds.

Madhur Jaffrey’s Very Warming Garam Masala

5 cm stick Cinnamon, 1 tspn Peppercorns, 1 tspn Cloves, 1 Tblspn Green Cardamom, 1 tspn Black Cumin Seeds, about 1/3 pod Nutmeg, 1 curl Mace.


2.5 Tblspn Coriander Seed, 1.5Tblspn Cumin Seeds, 1.5 Tblspn Black Peppercorns, 1.5 Tblspn Black Cardamom, 0.75 Tblspn Green Cardamom, 2.5 cm stick Cinnamon, 2 – 3 Cloves, large pinch grated Nutmeg.

My Bombay’s Kitchen’s Parsi Garam Masala

2 Tblspn cardamon pods, 2 sticks cinnamon, 1 tspn regular cumin seeds or kala jira, 1 tspn whole cloves, 1 tspn black peppercorns, 0.25 whole nutmeg.

Ganga’s Masala

3 tspn Nigella seeds, 2 tspn Black Peppercorns, 1 tspn Fennel seeds, 10 Cloves, seeds from 5 Black Cardamom pods, seeds from 5 Green Cadamom pods, 5 Mace blades, 1/3 Nutmeg pod, 1 Cinnamon stick, 3 tspn Cumin, 1.5 Tbslpn Coriander

Read Some More:

Elachi et Cetera talks about the different garam masala recipes – every household has their own version of this ubiquitous spice mixture. He says
it is far more exciting to hold in your hands a delicious aroma that is connected to a person you have come to know- like how we tend to associate the scent of a flower, or that of a designer fragrance with people who wear it often.
Read the post here.

People are Saying:

Sept Liuies links to this post in a post in French describing her delicious looking curry dish.

Post updated on Dec 5th 2013



From the Spices Series

More Cooking, Food and Recipes:

Doodh Wale Allo Recipe carrot sambal recipe Parsnip Soup Chickpea Chat
Pepper Rice Recipe Dal Makhani Oberoi Style Recipe Urad Tamatar Soup Sambar Spices
Ven Pongal Stir Fried Mung Bean Sprouts Mung dal Golden Dal

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About Ganga108

Heat in the Kitchen, Cooking with Spirit. Temple junkie, temple builder, temple cleaner. Lover of life, people, cultures, travel. Champion of growth, change and awareness. Taker of photos. Passionate about family. Happy.
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30 Responses to Hot Masala! Making your own Garam Masalas – A wealth of recipes

  1. Maninas says:

    Amazing list!

    btw, i got only your second email (and I replied)… eventually, because it ended up in my junk mail folder somehow…

  2. VegeYum says:

    Hi Maninas, I have emailed you = hope you find it. Eat and Enjoy. VegeYum.

  3. ellaella says:

    I don’t know where to begin with this marvelous list, but since I have some very fresh fennel seeds I’ll probably start with Hyderabadi. What amounts or proportions do you recommend?

    Isn’t Madhur Jaffrey fabulous?

  4. VegeYum says:

    Hi ella, I just love your pomegranate post. My mouth is still watering.

    For the masala, play with different proportions over time, adjusting each time, depending how you feel, what you are cooking and what you have at hand. For a little amount of masala, maybe start with:

    1 – 2 stick Cinnamon, 1- 2 tspn Peppercorns, 1 tspn whole Cloves or 1/2 tspn powder, 10 pods Green Cardamom or 2 tspn seeds or 1 tspn powder, 3 Bayleafs, 2 – 3 Black Cardamom pods, a good grating of Nutmeg if using pod or 1 tspn of powder, 1/2 tspn Mace pieces or less of powder, 1 – 2 tspn Fennel Seeds.

    If you want it to be peppery, add more pepper. If fennel-ly add more fennel. Keep the proportion of the warming spices high – cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, cardamom.

    You can add some coriander seeds and cumin seeds if you have them.

    You can’t go wrong. and it is not a hot-spicy mix, just body heat warming. It will smell wonderful as you are roasting and grinding it. I sometimes make a double lot and give some away to friends.

  5. ellaella says:

    Thanks for the guidance. I’ve saved it and will soon be whipping up my own!

    Thanks again for the kind words. I did try a pilaf last night, inspired by the recipe I linked to, which uses a sodium-high mix –not in my life! I used brown rice, toasted pignoli, baby peas and the arils. The brown rice was not the right choice, flavor-wise. Basmati or white would have been better. And any version would be ratcheted up by sauteeing the pignoli in clarified butter or ghee instead of just toasting them.

    (Your ghee post is great. I’ll link to it when I do clarified butter.)

  6. VegeYum says:

    Hi ella, sorry about the pomegranate pilaff from the site that you linked to – I am not a brown rice fan, but love basmatti. I am also not a fan of packet mixes like the rice pilaff mix mentioned in the recipe – much prefer to mix my own. And you taught me a new word – pignoli. I never knew pine nuts were called this!

    Love to hear when you make garam masala. You got my note about brown or black cardamom and nigella seeds? Neither is well known, and you can leave them out until you find a supplier.

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  10. Pel says:

    I am very honoured that you quoted and linked to my blogsite- thank you! Oddly enough, the GM formula that I call “my own” is quite similar to the Hyderabadi mixture that you’ve mentioned above- definitely one of my favorites.

    Hi Pel, your are very welcome. Your post is great. Wonderful how GM is so individual – you say yours is similar, but not quite.

  11. Mansi says:

    I missed this somehow! thanks for the mention about my Mom’s garam masala!:) I loved reading your post, great info, and great quick shortcuts to masala mixes!:)

    Hi Mansi, you are welcome indeed! I am glad that you found it.

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  13. Shafeek says:

    What you call Nigella Seeds in Hindi??

    Thanks ….Shafeek


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  16. Kindly let me know the exact quantity of ingredients of hyderabadi garam masala

    • Ganga108 says:

      Noor, you can play with the ingredients, adjusting to your taste. Don’t add too much of the stronger tastes – cloves, mace, nutmeg. Use Indian bay leaves (tejapata) and not western bay leaves.

  17. homemade says:

    I found your blog on google and read a few of your other posts. I just added you to my Google News Reader. Keep up the great work Look forward to reading more from you in the future.

  18. Rajeev Sharma says:

    Hi, what are the measurments we use to make say about 500grams of the Hyderabadi Garam Masala.

    • Ganga108 says:

      In a previous answer to a comment I said (just scale up to get your 500g):

      “1 – 2 stick Cinnamon, 1- 2 tspn Peppercorns, 1 tspn whole Cloves or 1/2 tspn powder, 10 pods Green Cardamom or 2 tspn seeds or 1 tspn powder, 3 Indian Bayleafs (teja pata), 2 – 3 Black Cardamom pods, a good grating of Nutmeg if using pod or 1 tspn of powder, 1/2 tspn Mace pieces or less of powder, 1 – 2 tspn Fennel Seeds.

      If you want it to be peppery, add more pepper. If fennel-ly add more fennel. Keep the proportion of the warming spices high – cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, cardamom.

      You can add some coriander seeds and cumin seeds if you have them.”

      You could also try this ratio. Over time you will adjust to your own tastes by experimenting with the ratios.

      • 2 tablespoons black peppercorns
      • 2 tablespoons cardamom seeds
      • 2 tablespoons cumin seeds
      • 2 tablespoons coriander seeds
      • 1 stick cinnamon, broken up
      • 1 teaspoon whole cloves
      • 1 teaspoon grated nutmeg
      * 2 teaspoon fennel seeds
      * add Indian bayleaf if you have it (teja pata) or omit it
      * several pieces of mace

      Add 6 black cardamon when grinding (no need to roast this spice)

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  20. Musicology says:

    Thankfulness to my father who told me about this post, this site is great…..

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  23. Nave says:

    well can we mix ALL the ingredients from ALL the garam masalas and make a SUPER GARAM masala :) ?

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