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Garam masala is a blend of ground spices used extensively in Indian cuisine. The spices for garam masala are usually toasted to bring out more flavor and aroma, and then ground. The word masala simply means "spices," and garam means "hot." However, garam masala doesn't necessarily constitute a particularly spicy blend. The powdered form is typically gluten-free, vegan, and vegetarian, while you will need to check the label for garam masala paste to see what is included.

How to Make & Use Garam Masala

Just discovered your recipes on the Facebook Instant pot site and I can’t wait to try this Butter chicken (family favorite that I usually pick up at a restaurant…) Have been dying to try a home version.
Can you tell me if this spice mix makes enough for several recipes that use Garam Masala or should I double/ triple it? Also does it need to be “heated / cooked” before being ground up?

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Garam masala is a complex medley of spices including sweet cinnamon, spicy heat from peppercorns, tanginess from coriander, earthy cumin, and fragrant cardamom. There is no single garam masala recipe, rather the ingredients change according to region and cook. In Northern India, garam masala will be aromatic and mild, while the farther south you travel in India, the hotter the spices will become.

List of the spices used in making mom’s garam masala:

This summer when my Mom visited, I had asked her to bring all of the whole-spices that she uses to make her garam masala. She was thrilled to bring them, together we had a great time exploring and comprehending each spice. These also were some of the most treasured moments for the mother-daughter duo, recollecting family anecdotes from generations past.

I was halfway through measuring out little bags of the ingredients when I noticed the pre-mixed garam masala in the jar on the top shelf in the grocery store spice section. I took it down and found it was empty, so my efforts on the ingredient front were not wasted. What I just whirred up at home in the spice grinder smells so much better than the remnants in that container! Cheap to make – less than $2 for all of the spices (bought in bulk) – quick, and worth it. I use this for the easy chicken masala recipe on this site.

DIY Spice Mixes

Big bin markets like Sprouts, Whole Foods, Trader Joes and the like all have these spices and small international markets as well. I buy them there and make my blends at home. Most of you probably have, or better yet should have in your kitchen, cinnamon sticks, coriander and cumin seeds, black peppercorns and bay leaves. While these are the most common, star anise, mace and cardamom seeds can be found at these markets in packages or bins and used to pep up your favorite Indian meals.

If you don’t have all six of these ingredients available to you but you do have a little time to experiment, simply try mixing a combination of whichever of these spices you do have. With a little time and a bit of luck, you can easily make a great garam masala substitute that will flavor your favorite Indian dishes in a way that will delight even the most refined of palettes!

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In a high-powered blender or spice grinder, or using a mortar and pestle, combine all toasted spices along with dried mint, kala namak, salt, green mango powder, tamarind powder, black peppercorns, chili powder, and ginger powder. Grind to a fine powder. If using a spice grinder with a limited capacity, grind each ingredient in batches, then thoroughly combine in a small mixing bowl.

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A note on store bought puff pastry: look for a puff pastry that is all butter. Dufour, Simply Enjoy, and Trader Joe brands are good options. These are also delicious without the coriander, pepper, and fennel – I made them with just the cinnamon, clove, and cardamom for my kids and they preferred the sweeter version, but both ways are delicious. I have also made these substituting the maple sugar with granulated sugar and they turn out beautifully.

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• Cassia bark, available from spice shops, has a similar but stronger flavour to cinnamon. Substitute 1 cinnamon quill for every 3 cm piece of cassia bark.
• Kala namak (Indian black salt) is available, ground or as large crystals, from Indian food shops. When ground, it turns pink and has a high sulphur content.
• Amchur (ground dried green mango) is available from Indian food shops and selected spice shops, see Cooking Notes for spice suppliers around Australia. Substitute the juice of 1 lemon for every teaspoon of amchur.

Worried about the long waits for your spices and recipes to be delivered? Don’t be! At Spicentice, we aim to process all orders as soon as they have been placed. We also offer an express delivery service for clients who want to get their orders ultra-fast. With this service all orders placed before 12 noon are delivered by the end of the next day.