What Is Garam Masala? Here's What You Need to Know About the Spice Blend

Kate Trombly O'Brien
·2 min read
Photo credit: Yagi Studio - Getty Images
Photo credit: Yagi Studio - Getty Images

From The Pioneer Woman

Do you have a bottle of garam masala in your spice cabinet? This blend of spices is common in Indian cuisine and it's amazingly warm and fragrant. Even if you don't have the blend itself, you probably have all the spices that go into it. But what is garam masala? Read on to find out more about the spice blend and how you can make your own.

Garam masala is a popular Northern Indian spice blend used to flavor soup recipes, stews, curries, and more. You can buy garam masala in the spice section of your grocery store (make it a spice container staple!), or you can create your own blend from whole spices. The name garam masala means hot or warm spices, but the flavors aren’t hot as in spicy—garam masala is more of a warming mix, with flavors like cardamom, cinnamon, clove,s and peppercorns (and many others!). This unique blend of spices is supposed to hit many different notes of taste: It's sweet, warm, earthy, and even slightly floral. Blends vary from family to family and recipe to recipe, so if you make it at home, then buy it at the store, then try it at a restaurant, you might never have the same blend twice! If you want to try mixing up your own, try this easy 5-ingredient garam masala recipe.

What is garam masala made of?

Garam masala can be made from many different spices, but some of the most common are cinnamon, peppercorns, cardamom, mustard seeds, coriander seeds, cloves, mace, and nutmeg. To create your own blend, toast whole spices to bring out their flavor, then grind them.

What does garam masala taste like?

Garam masala is a warm, fragrant spice blend with lots of layers of flavor. Not every blend will taste the same, but you'll likely get hints of cinnamon, cloves or peppercorns. Try a pinch on roasted vegetables—you'll really taste it!

What's the difference between curry powder and garam masala?

They are completely different spice blends. Curry powder is often a mix of turmeric, ginger, cumin, and chili powder. Ree loves cooking with curry powder, so if you have some on hand, be sure to give some of her recipes a try, like Beef Curry with Sweet Potato Noodles, Carrot and Squash Curry Soup, and Chickpea Curry.