Recipe Index

Garam Masala Spice Blend

Makes almost 1/2 cup of masala


Tip: This makes enough to refill a 1 ounce/30 gram glass spice jar


My all time favorite spice blend: while good Indian curry powders can be purchased ready to go, there’s something about freshly ground homemade garam masala that takes any dish to the next level. The amazing level that is. I also love the slightly less refined, rustic texture that homemade garam masala offers above the purchased stuff. Make a batch and love your food even more with it.


I use a mixture of whole spices and ground spices; the whole spices are typically ones you can find inexpensively packaged in Indian groceries. Some well stocked Indian groceries may carry packages of a blend of whole spices for garam masala, including whole sticks of cinnamon and both green and black cardamom. These are convenient when you’re making a fast shopping trip, but at home you’ll need to sort out the seeds for even toasting. Regardless of where you get your spices, the scent of warm, freshly ground garam masala will cure any culinary rut that ails you.


Tip: Most garam masala blends feature both small green cardamom and large, bumpy pods of black cardamom. For convenience I’ve listed just the green for a basic blend, but if you prefer use half green and black pods, or add up to 6 pods of black cardamom along with all of the green cardamom. If you don’t care for picking apart cardamom pods, look for cardamom seeds in the spice isle of your Indian grocery.


Ingredient tip: if you do purchase a package of whole spice garam masala, empty the bag into a large dinner plate and set aside any large chunky spices (cloves, star anise, bay leaves, cinnamon sticks, etc) from the small seeds (cumin, fennel, coriander). Toast the fine seeds together, then toast the large spices in individual batches. This will insure the spices are evenly toasted.


  • 14 green cardamom pods, or 1 teaspoon of cardamom seeds
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 3 tablespoons coriander seeds
  • 2 tablespoons fennel seeds
  • 2 tablespoons cumin seeds
  • 2 tablespoons whole cloves
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg


1. With your fingers or the tip of a sharp paring knife, open the cardamom pods and remove the seeds. I usually find it easiest to slice each pod horizontally, break open the pod and shake out the seeds. Discard the empty pods.


2. In a skillet over medium heat toast the bay leaves for 45 seconds to 1 minute, flipping once and pressing into the pan until fragrant, lightly toasted and brittle. Remove immediately from the pan and crumble into a bowl. Add the cardamom seeds, coriander, fenugreek, cumin, cloves, and peppercorns and toast for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove seeds immediately when fragrant and fenugreek seeds have darkened slightly.


3. Grind the bay leaves, toasted spices, and ground cinnamon and nutmeg in a coffee grinder into either a slightly gritty powder or as fine as you like. Store in a clean, dry glass jar and cover tightly. Keep in a dark, cool kitchen cabinet and use within 3 months for the best flavor.