Garam Masala: The Pride of Indian Spices
Garam Masala in an aromatic blend of ground spices common in Indian cuisines. The name translates to “hot spices”, and often includes dozens of ingredients. Learn more about it below.
Have you ever wanted to try a spice that makes your taste buds dance with pleasure? If you appreciate a spicy, savory blend, garam masala is a spice for you. Garam masala is an Indian spice mostly used in vegetable and meat dishes. It is usually used in powdered form but in the South Indian regions, it used as a paste. The paste is made by adding water or vinegar to garam masala powder to use as marinating sauce.
Garam Masala in an exquisite blend of ground spices common in Indian cuisines. The literal meaning of “garam masala” translates to “hot spices”, so look for the blend to bring spicy heat. Be careful with the amount you use, as it can be a bit overwhelming.
The spice blend is vegetarian and gluten free, but you may need to check the ingredients if using garam masala paste.
Garam Masala Varieties
Garam masala ingredients and flavors vary from region to region, reflecting personal tastes and available ingredients. For example, the spice is mixed with black pepper in the northern regions of India. In the Southern regions, garam masala is mixed with red chilies to add more flavor. All in all, some blends can be made with more than 32 ingredients.
Typical ingredients in garam masala include some or all of the following:
- Black and white peppercorns
- Chili pepper
- Cinnamon or cassia bark
- Curry leaf
- Mace (outer covering of nutmeg)
- Black and green cardamom pods
- Curry leaf
As mentioned, variations and additions vary from region to region, and neither is considered more authentic than another.
What Is A Substitute For Garam Masala?
If you are out of garam masala, take the same amount of curry powder and use it in your dish. The taste and aroma will be the same but the warming effect may vary. Curry powder works as an alternative because it is a pure Indian spice.
Also, chaat masala is another great substitute. The taste is a bit different but if you are making an Indian dish, chaat masala will do just fine as the taste is tart, sweet, and salty. However, while adding chaat masala, don’t add it all in one go because it can change the taste of the dish. Try to add it gradually and keep tasting until you find the perfect spice balance.
But what if you don’t have curry powder or chaat masala in the cabinet? Try making your own garam masala using cumin and allspice.
To make your own garam masala, take one part of cumin and 1/4th of the allspice and the blend will work great for a simple seasoning. The taste will not be the same as garam masala because garam masala is a blend of so many spices, but it can work in a pinch.
A Simple Garam Masala Blend – Making Your Own
- Gather up the following: three parts of cinnamon and coriander, ½ part pepper and cardamom, and 1 part cloves and cumin.
- Mix the ingredients well to create the perfect garam masala substitute.
If you have additional spices available, try to add some proportions as well to mixture. Experiment to your personal tastes. You never know when the experiment will become your new favorite.
What Is The Difference Between Curry Powder And Garam Masala?
Garam masala is a finishing spice which is normally sprinkled on the cooked food to add the flavor and aroma. On the other hand, curry is a thin paste used in vegetables and meat. As mentioned, garam masala is used more as a finishing seasoning, curry is used in the cooking process.
Curry powder also usually contains turmeric, which is responsible for its yellow appearance, where garam masala is turmeric free.
What Does “Masala “Mean In Indian Cooking?
Indian cuisine is famous for its flavor and aroma but there are some terms which are not understandable by non-natives. One such word is “Masala”, which people often confuse what it really means. Masala is basically a Tamil word which is an extension of Masalai. The term masalai was given to the paste of blended spices. The original word is “masalai” but with the language travel, it transformed into the masala.
The term masala was previously used for the wet paste but now it is used for dry spice mix as well.
Learn More About These Other Interesting Spice Blends
- Chaat Masala
- Ras el Hanout
- Togarashi: Popular Japanese Spice Blend
- Akabanga – Rwandan Chili Oil
- Chili Pastes from Around the World
- Homemade Spice Blend Recipes
Got any questions? Contact me anytime. I’m happy to help. — Mike H.