Garam Masala


Not to be confused with curry powder, this highly aromatic mixture is widely used in Indian meat dishes and occasionally with poultry and rice. For a mellow, background spiciness, fry it with other spices at the start of cooking; to appreciate fully its powerful fragrance sprinkle over the food as a final seasoning before serving.

Literally meaning ‘hot’ (garam) ‘spices’ (masala), the basic mix not surprisingly contains the spices that are thought to create heat in the body: black pepper, black cardamom, cinnamon and cloves. However, there are hundreds of variations depending on region, type of dish and the cook – every household has its own particular blend. Here is a good basic recipe adapted from The Cinnamon Club Cookbook by Iqbal Wahhab and Vivek Singh.


  • coriander seeds tbsp
  • cumin seeds 4 tbsp
  • green cardamom pods 10
  • cinnamon sticks 10, about 2.5 cm/1 in long
  • cloves 1 tbsp
  • mace 5 blades
  • black cardamom pods 5
  • nutmeg ¼, freshly grated
  • black peppercorns ½ tbsp
  • fresh bay leaves 2


Preheat the oven to 110°C/225°F/Gas ¼. Put all the ingredients on a baking tray and place in the oven for 3–5 minutes; this intensifies the flavours. You could even dry the spices in a microwave for 20 seconds or so.

Grind everything to a powder in a clean electric coffee grinder, then sieve the mixture to remove any husks or large particles. Store in an airtight container in the fridge and use within 2 weeks.

See also