Learn About Garam Masala

Author: Chef Sydney

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What is Garam Masala?

Garam masala is a seasoning blend of different spices popularly used in India and parts of Asia.  The process of making garam masala starts with toasting all of the spices to bring out their flavors before grounding them into powder.  Garam masala typically consists of cardamom, coriander, nutmeg, cinnamon, cumin, cloves, peppercorns, and fennel seeds.  Some people add other spices, such as chili flakes or powder, bay leaves, ginger, star anise, or turmeric.  Depending on the spice blend, garam masala is usually a rich brown or a gray-brown color.  It may also come in a paste form.  Garam masala has a rich smell of the various spices used in the blend.

What Does Garam Masala Taste Like?

Because of the variety of spices used, garam masala has a complex flavor.  It adds a sweet, warm flavor to foods.

Learn About Garam Masala
Garam masala spilling out of a spice jar.

How Do You Eat Garam Masala?

Use garam masala to flavor dishes.  Garam masala pairs well with chicken, soup, and curry recipes.  Many chicken tikka masala dishes use garam masala as a seasoning.  Garam masala also works as a tasty seasoning for vegetables such as cauliflower, potatoes, or lentils.  Some people add garam masala into desserts such as ice cream, cookies, and cakes.

Where Can You Buy Garam Masala?

Look for garam masala in the spice aisle or the international food aisle of the grocery store.  If you can’t find garam masala, it’s easy to make!

How Do You Store Garam Masala?

Store homemade and store-bought garam masala in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.

Fun Facts About Garam Masala

There is no “true” garam masala recipe.

Did You Know?

Garam masala varies by region in India.  Some regions of India prefer a spicier version of garam masala while others prefer a milder version.

Recipes Using Garam Masala

Garam Masala Blend

Make your own garam masala blend at home! Start with cardamom pods, coriander seeds, whole nutmeg, cinnamon sticks, cumin seeds, whole cloves, peppercorns, and fennel seeds. Toast spices in a skillet until the spices become fragrant. Then, using a spice grinder or a mortar and pestle, grind the spices into powder.

Garam Masala Spice Cookies

Upgrade your regular spice cookies by making a few substitutions. Remove cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, and allspice from the recipe. Add in garam masala and follow the rest of the recipe as directed. The cookies should be warm, sweet, and delicious!

Marinated Salmon

Make a tasty marinade for salmon. Start by combining soy sauce, maple syrup, lemon juice, garam masala, and ginger in a large bowl. Add salmon fillets and marinade for several hours or overnight. Bake or saute salmon until cooked.

Spiced Rice

Spice up your next rice side dish with garam masala. Add long-grain white rice, garam masala, turmeric, salt, ginger, and vegetable broth to a saucepan. Cook rice until the liquid absorbs and serve with fresh cilantro leaves.

Garam Masala Pasta

Make a few changes to a traditional marinara sauce recipe to create a new sauce. Remove oregano, rosemary, basil, thyme, and parsley from the recipe. Instead, add in garam masala, turmeric, and red pepper flakes. Add cream and serve with tubular pasta.


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