31 Aug

Garam Masala

Lissa Coffey

Lissa Coffey

Lissa Coffey

Garam Masala, found on spice racks and in recipes, is not a spice in itself, but a blend of spices used throughout India.  Garam means “hot” and Masala means “spice.”  The spices, and some of the proportions in Garam Masala can vary depending on personal taste, and the region.  Here’s a sample recipe so that you can make your own Garam Masala at home.  This recipe makes about ½ cup of Garam Masala, and when kept in an airtight container will keep for 3 months.  I’ve seen different recipes that use mace and/or fenugreek, so experiment and see what you like.


2 Tablespoons cumin seeds

2 Tablespoons coriander seeds

2 Tablespoons cardamom seeds

2 Tablespoons black peppercorns

1 3” stick cinnamon, broken up

1 teaspoon whole cloves

1 teaspoon grated nutmeg

½ teaspoon saffron (optional)


Put all of the spices except the nutmeg and saffron in a dry, heavy skillet over medium-high heat.  Toast the spices about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they turn several shades darker and give off a sweet, smoky aroma.  Let cool completely.  Transfer the spice mixture to a spice mill or coffee grinder and grind to a powder.  Stir in the nutmeg and saffron.

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