Garam Masala is a spice blend that originated in India. It’s made with cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, cumin and nutmeg. It goes well on just about everything!
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When I saw that my kabuli pulao recipe called for garam masala, I spied a challenge. I have never made my own spice blend before, but this experience was so much fun!
I’ve also never cooked with Garam Masala before, but after taking the time to make my own blend and then use it in a recipe, I can happily say that I will be using this spice quite a bit more in my everyday cooking.
What is Garam Masala Made With?
Black cumin seeds
For full ingredient measurement and recipe instructions, visit the recipe card at the bottom of the page.
Each household in the Middle East probably has a slightly different version of Garam Masala in their house. However, the backbone of each recipes is the same. They all include some variations of the ingredients above.
How to Make Garam Masala Spice Blend
Combine all spices except for nutmeg in a small frying pan and dry roast over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until spices smell fragrant. Do not burn. Remove to a plate and cool.
Remove and discard pods from cardamom.
In a spice grinder, blend cardamom seeds and roasted spices to a fine powder.
Grate the nutmeg and add to the ground spices. Store in a sealed jar.
In order to enhance the flavors of each spice, dry roast them on the stove before grinding them. To dry roast, add the spices to a small skillet on the stove without any oil. Toss the spices over low heat until they become fragrant and slightly darker in color. This is the point when you add them to the spice grinder and add the nutmeg.
Where is Garam Masala Eaten?
I made this recipe for Garam Masala while experimenting with the food from Afghanistan. The spice blend is a very popular choice in Afghanistan and is always available in Afghan houses.
But this is not the only country where the Garam Masala Spice Blend is popular! Homes in Bangladesh, Pakistan, India, Nepal, and Bangladesh, often also have jars of Garam Masala readily available in their kitchen.
This spice blend is used very often in these countries, so families will have ready-made jars available to throw into their recipes whenever necessary.
Is Masala the Same as Garam Masala?
In Hindi, the word “Masala” refers to any combination of spices that make a blend. Therefore, the term Masala does not always reference this specific spice blend, Garam Masala.
There are plenty of Masala’s in Middle Eastern cooking, and Garam Masala is just one of them.
A “dry masala” refers to a dry spice blend, made of seeds and powders ground together. This spice blend can be sprinkled on rice, rubbed on meat, etc.
A “wet masala” references the combination of a “dry masala” with a tomato or an onion or any other ingredient that will make the combination into a paste. This version of masala cannot be sprinkled, and it is more used as a spice rub instead!
Do I Need a Spice Grinder?
At the time that I started making my Garam Masala Spice Blend, I didn’t own a spice grinder. But one battered blender and one insufficient food processor later, and I ended the day with a brand new spice grinder on my kitchen counter!
I originally thought that I could use a blender or a food processor to grind up the ingredients for this spice blend. This may have worked had the blend only included cumin, cardamom, etc.
However, the cinnamon stick in the mix is really what makes the Spice Grinder necessary. The cinnamon stick is tough, and a blender or a food processor won’t quite be successful in grinding it up into the powder that you need.
If you have the resources/ability to use/obtain a spice grinder, that would be my recommendation. If you don’t, I would recommend trying to grate your cinnamon stick before adding it into the blend, just like you do with your nutmeg. That way, you can also use it to make this Baharat Spice Blend!
What Can I Use this Spice Blend With?
Garam Masala goes well with just about anything actually. The only thing I would recommend NOT using your Garam Masala on is fruit!
It is delicious on rice dishes, lentils, red meat, chicken, meat curries, fish, potatoes, vegetables, yogurt, and salad.
I would recommend trying out your Garam Masala with these dishes:
By the time my spice was finally finished, my kitchen smelled like you had walked right into a kitchen in India, and I had a beautifully fine, dusty powder of Garam Masala to experiment with during my adventures in Afghanistan.
The best part? I have almost a half cup of leftover spice!! Now I can try cooking more delicious recipes with my newfound FAVORITE spice, and then I can share my experimentations with you lovely people! Stay tuned!
Until then, try making this blend for yourself. Trust me, you’ll love it!
If you make this recipe at home, leave a comment on this post letting me know what you thought! Post a photo on Facebook or Instagram and tag @TheForeignFork or hashtag #TheForeignFork.
If you liked this recipe, make sure to check out the other recipes on my site I picked out just for you!:
- Afghan Eggplant with Yogurt Sauce
- Qofte (Albanian Meatballs)
- Thai Inspired Meatball Soup
- Dopeaja with Shrimp
- 8 Indian Recipes You Can Make in Your Instant Pot
- 5 cardamom pods
- 2 pieces cinnamon bark, 3 1/4 inches long
- 1/2 tsp cloves
- 2 tbsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp black cumin seeds
- 1/2 whole nutmeg, grated
- Combine all spices except for nutmeg in a small frying pan and dry roast over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until spices smell fragrant. Do not burn. Remove to a plate and cool.
- Remove and discard pods from cardamom.
- In a spice grinder, blend cardamom seeds and roasted spices to a fine powder.
- Grate the nutmeg and add to the ground spices. Store in a sealed jar.