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Roasted Spice Powder (Garam Masala)

First Posted: 10/27/2011 4:55 pm Updated: 08/31/2012 10:48 am

Roasted Spice Powder (Garam Masala)

Roasted Spice Powder (Garam Masala)
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Garam masala is the most ubiquitous of India’s spice blends. There are almost as many recipes as there are Indian cooks. You can buy a commercial mix at an Indian market, but most households and restaurants there make their own. The dominant flavors of garam masala are cumin, coriander, black pepper, and green and black cardamom. Black cardamom is a large, almond-shaped black pod with a richly aromatic smoky flavor. I’ve made it optional, as you have to go to an Indian market or mail-order source to find it. It’s well worth tracking down. Garam masala is a key flavoring in Indian tandoori marinades. Make a batch every few months and keep some on hand.


  • 3 tablespoons cumin seeds
  • 3 tablespoons coriander seeds
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 2 teaspoons green cardamom pods
  • 1 teaspoon black cardamom pods (optional)
  • 1 piece (2 inches) cinnamon stick
  • 1/2 whole nutmeg
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon mace blades
  • 1/4 teaspoon whole cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger


  • Combine the cumin seeds, coriander seeds, peppercorns, green and black cardamom pods, cinnamon stick, nutmeg, bay leaves, mace, and cloves in a dry skillet (do not use a nonstick skillet for this). Cook the spices over medium heat until lightly toasted and fragrant, about 3 minutes, shaking the pan to ensure even cooking. Transfer the toasted spices to a bowl and let cool.
  • Grind the spice mixture to a fine powder in a mortar with a pestle or in a spice mill or clean coffee grinder. Place the spice mixture in a jar, add the ginger, twist the lid on airtight, and shake to mix. The garam masala can be stored away from heat and light for at least 6 months.
  • NOTE: This makes enough spice powder for 3 to 4 pounds of meat, poultry, or seafood.


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