Homemade from scratch Garam Masala Recipe from my Book Vegan Richa’s Indian Kitchen. “Garam” means hot and “Masala” in this context means blend of spices. Garam Masala spice blend is often used in Indian dishes to make sauces and curries. Find out how to make your own, to Roast or not to roast, where to buy, is it curry powder, what bay leaves and all you wanted to know about Garam Masala. Vegan Recipe. Pin this post.
Garam Masala. What is Garam Masala? “Garam” means hot and “Masala” in this context means a blend of spices. Contrary to the direct meaning, the spice blend itself is not generally hot. It has black pepper but no red chile. It can however feel hot once you eat some. The spices together will warm you up from the inside. The flavor of garam masala is complex and strong and can be used in other cuisines as well.
Garam masala recipes vary by family recipes, regions, states within India and of course personal preference. Each restaurant also probably has their own version they prefer. Some similar spice blends have different names depending on the region as well. Kashmiri garam masala, Goda Masala, Rajasthani Garam masala etc. There there are other spice blends which are used for specific types of dishes like Pav bhaji masala (for snacks dishes), Sambhar masala(not garam masala but another spice blend used frequently in southern Indian dishes).
For the sake of simplicity, garam masala is a spice blend you would use to make a general Indian dish. Add it to veggies to make a veggie side, Add it to tomato based sauces to make a curry, add it to dals or chickpeas or beans and many more etc.
Speaking of spices, Its been 1 year since my book released, and what a roller coaster it has been. What started as niche book (Vegan and Indian) is working out so well for both categories and then some. #1 Best Seller in Indian all Year!! Good food wins! Thank you you all for cooking the recipes so well and loving the food.
I am giving away 2 signed copies of my book on this post (US only). To Enter, leave me a comment about the recipe from the book or blog that you have made multiple times the past year. Ends May 25.
Get your copy today in US and many other countries. Love the book? do leave reviews on amazon with your favorite recipes and experiences.
Back to garam masala, the flavorful and complex spice blend. Sometimes finding the right garam masala that you like, can be tricky. Read through these tips to get to know more about the spices, and the blend. Jump to Recipe
Check the Brand
If you buy garam masala, check the ingredients. Depending on the brands, country etc, the spice blend might have other additional flavors as all spice, more of cinnamon, more of cumin etc. I usually do not like any of the non Indian brand blends as many are very heavy on cinnamon or all spice giving is a completely different flavor profile.
You can make your own garam masala and adjust it to your preference (Recipe at the end of the post). Garam masala is also available in whole form. I usually get Swad or Deep Brand whole garam masala. I grind a small amount like a 1/4 to 1/2 cup and keep it to use in 1-2 months.
Check the Spices
If you make your own blend, check the spices. Old spices will make the whole blend stale. If you are unsure of if you will like the flavor profile, taste each spice individually before you blend them up. Or grind the spice you are unsure of separately. For eg black cardamoms can be an acquired flavor. Make smaller quantities of the garam masala blend, grind the spice you are not sure off separately and add less to begin with. Try the blended spice mix on a tofu scramble or dal to figure out how you like the flavor profile.
Indian Bay Leaves are different from regular bay leaves. Indian Bay Leaves have more of a cassia/cinnamony flavor profile and regular bay leaves have a more menthol like flavor profile. In smaller quantities, like 1 bay leaf in a big pot of stew or soup, the flavor might not be noticeable. But they form a good chunk of this garam masala recipe. You do not want to blend regular bay leaves into your garam masala!, or in any recipes that call for blending up the bay leaves (like my Navratan Korma from the book).
There are many kinds of cinnamon available which have similar flavor profiles. Some are stronger and spicier while others are more fragrant. Some are the smooth inner bark and some all of the rough bark. The cinnamon that you get in Indian stores are the Indian or Srilankan cinnamon(Cinnamomum tamale or verum(ceylon cinnamon). Any of the cinnamon will do in the blend. Cinnamon sticks can be hard to grind, but they give a much fresher flavor. You can substitute cinnamon powder when making your own garam masala. Be sure to use fresh tasting ground cinnamon.
Other spice blends in the book.
Roast/Toast or not Roast Garam Masala!!
Dry Roasting or toasting the spices is actually a personal preference. Gasp! Some recipes mention that you should toast them. Some others say don’t. Some others that are family recipes are by default toasted and no one knows why.
Toasting helps bring out some flavors more and mellow certain others. Sometimes the roasting also makes certain flavors much more stronger than others causing an imbalance in the harmony, like stronger cumin. Roasting coriander seeds takes away the fresh lime like flavor.
Why do recipes call for roasting? Most recipes have been in the family for generations. The spices often needed to be sun dried or lightly roasted to kill off germs or bugs(flour beetle eggs), or to dry them out because of the high humidity in the long humid monsoon season in India. Damp spices tend to spoil easily and make a clumpy spice blend. Times changed, but recipes didn’t.
So eventually it is personal preference. Try both lightly toasted and untoasted and see what you like. Sounds like a lot of work, but its a one time thing to find the recipe you really love. Or Just use the recipe below as is, or buy the whole garam masala from Indian store, if you are not particular.
Garam Masala is not Curry Powder
Curry powder is not garam masala and is never used in India. Curry powder is less flavorful and has turmeric and other additions that are usually not present in garam masala. Curry powder is a British or Western spice blend approximating the masala spice blends from north and south India. It works well as a spice blend to add to dishes, but is definitely not a traditional or authentic flavor profile. Use garam masala spice blend or the mentioned spices in Indian recipes. I generally buy or make whole spice garam masala as the whole spices stay fresh longer (upto 1 year).
And curry powder has nothing to do with curry leaves. Read more tips and some common mix ups here.
Garam masala can be used in various ways. Add it to the tempering and cook it in oil to toast and infuse the oil. Sprinkle some in a pot of soup and mix in. Use as a garnish right before serving. Add it to cookies, pancakes, shortbread. Add some wherever you use other spice blends. Toss some chickpeas in garam masala, salt and oil and bake to crisp for quick snacking.
In my Indian recipes, some people cut down on the heat and some spices, while many others double the spices and flavors. Any of these changes depend on a variety of reasons,
- how fresh are your ground spices, esp the garam masala flavor has a wide range depending on age, brand etc. I usually grind whole masala and use within 2-3 months. That makes mine very potent.
- if the recipe was changed to add more veggies or other ingredients, which would require more spices to flavor them.
- or just the simple reason that one might not be making Indian food every day or frequently, so when they do, they want to pack the flavor punch.
The good thing about Indian recipes is that you can adjust the flavors anytime during the simmering and right before serving as well. So adjust away.
Lets Make some Garam Masala! Take this recipe and play with it to make a mix that you love. This recipe has evolved from my trials and mom’s general outline, so it is more of a Punjabi Garam Masala (north Indian). If you are uncertain of a certain spice, for eg black cardamoms can be an acquired flavor, make smaller quantities of the blend, grind the spice you are not sure off separately and add less to begin with. Let me know if you make some and love/not love it 🙂
Garam Masala Recipe
- 1/2 cup (40 g) whole coriander seeds
- 1/4 cup (25 g) cumin seeds
- 6 to 8 (6 to 8) 2-inch cinnamon sticks
- 8 to 10 black cardamoms
- 2 tablespoons green cardamom pods
- 2 tablespoons cloves
- 1 tablespoons (1 tablespoons) black peppercorns
- 10 to 12 Indian bay leaves
- 1 nutmeg optional
- Combine all the ingredients and store in an airtight container for up to 1 year.
- To grind: In a spice grinder, grind the cinnamon sticks and nutmeg first until well ground, then add the rest of the spices and grind to a powder. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 months.
- Note: You can also roast the spices before blending. Dry roast all the ingredients except the nutmeg over low-medium heat for 4 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cool completely. Grind the cinnamon sticks and nutmeg, and then add the rest of the spices, grind and store as above.
1 tbsp ground cumin
2 tsp black pepper
3/4 tsp ground cloves
3/4 to 1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp nutmeg Adjust the amounts to flavor preference if needed. Nutritional values based on one serving
I love Indian food, but it’s hard to find the spices sometimes.
The Potatoes and Greens Stir Fry sounds especially delicious, as does the Mild Peppers in Peanut Coconut Sauce. I would love to have this cookbook!
after trying carrot halwa in a restaurant I was excited to find a recipe in your book….love!
I have recommended your cookbook to so many of my friends!
I’ve made your one-bowl orange cake several times since you posted it. I love to do different variations, like adding walnuts and/or dried cranberries. And I always add cinnamon. It’s such an easy and adaptable recipe!
I have made the One Pot Peanut Sauce Noodles several times. Great recipe! Thanks!
I love the gingerbread cake recipe! I’ve made it like 10 times. Now I just make a double recipe and freeze a loaf
Thank you so much for all of the yummy recipes, Richa! Crunchy spicy potatoes and palak tofu paneer are WONDERFUL!! I can’t wait to try even more of your recipes.
I am a new vegan, and really enjoy the flavor. I haven’t tried any recipes in your book, but would love to win a signed copy to dig into!!!
I keep coming back again and again to a recipe that’s not Indian, but oh so delicious. My husband and I love your Ultimate Giant Vegan Chocolate Chip & Chunk Cookies. So so good. I’m currently away from home traveling, and what would I give to pull a batch of those out of the oven right now.
Thank you for sharing all your phenomenal recipes with us! I’ve particularly enjoyed making your Chai tea numerous times (got us through a chilly spell!), and we eat the Chickpea Flour Scramble each week (accompanied by a different side dish). It has become an easy standard 🙂
Your Lentil Walnut Burgers were a huge hit, along with the One Hour Cinnamon Rolls. Next up, the One Bowl Orange Cake (so easy, it will also become a regular in our house!). I have some free time coming up and I expect to spend more time working through the recipes I’ve been salivating over on your website, but haven’t had time to prepare. Mmmmmmm!!!
I was so curious about Indian Cuisine but being Vegan I was turned off to see goat and other animals I adore offered on the menu. THEN I FOUND YOU. I’ve been following the blog for a very long time, We have made several items but the ones that I make the most are Easy Vegan Brownies, Cranberry blueberry Crumb bars, and the favorite Mom’s Chickpea Flour Pancakes, we cant get enough of them, they are amazing. I would be honored to win a copy of this great cookbook. Thank you for the opportunity and thank you for a great blog and cookbook and for helping the world be a better place for animals.
I love ‘Spicy baked cauliflower florets’!
I tasted a fried cauliflower dish at the birthday party of my friend’s kid 2 years ago and loved it, but wanted to try less salty and non-fried version. And I found your recipe. It is so good! I always nibble more than half of it standing in front of the oven!
I have to admit that I am a big fan of one-pot meals, so I have made the One Pot Peanut Sauce Noodles a few times–I use whole wheat pasta most of the time, so the cooking time is longer, but it doesn’t seem to hurt the sauce or the flavors. I change out some of the other ingredients depending on what I have on hand–almond or peanut butter, different veggies, etc. Always delicious!
I was not familiar with Indian Bay Leaf before I started reading your blog–where can I find them?
Indian store or online on amazon.com or other spice stores. Some specialty stores also stock them under Indian bay leaf.
Vegan Richa Chana Masala/Chole (Chickpea Curry) has certainly been made multiple times in my Portland Oregon kitchen, a hit each and every time!
Such a big fan of the blog and was so excited when the cookbook came to fruition. Vegan Richa recipes are staples in my kitchen. I can’t pick a favorite but can divulge the Mango Curry Tofu and Palak Tofu as go-to’s and the Broccoli Chickpea Stuffed Flatbread a new hit! I can’t believe it’s been a year; Congratulations on the continued success – Cheers!
Congratulations on your book completing 1 year!! I love your gobhi manchurian recipe and have made it multiple times.
Happiest anniversary wishes, Richa! I am so grateful for your creative and generous teachings. A few favorites are the mango toor dal, bhindi masala, samosas, and sundal. While most of my cookbooks live in the kitchen, your beloved book sleeps on the table right next to my bed, for easy access and immediate inspiration. Thank you!
Congrats on yet another amazing milestone! May you see only greater successes with both the blog and book in the future. 🙂
Happy BookAnniversary Richa! Oh wow! 1 year already! All your recipes are lovely but I love your cauliflower wings and the mango curry tofu which I have made quite a few times. So sweet of you to giveaway a signed copy!! Xoxox
I haven’t made anything yet. I’m kind of lacking confidence. Someone give me a boot in the rear!
I took an Indian Food cooking class at our local college (non-credits). I didn’t think I would like it, but fell in love with it. We used Garam Masala on everything. We even deep fried kale with garam masala in the batter. Roasted veggies sprinkled with garam. Absolutely delicious!!!
I make your chocolate chip cookie dough bars for every potluck! they’re always a hit.
My go-to dinner is your red lentil stew with chickpea flour coriander dumplings – I make it for veg and non-veg company and people always think the dumplings on top are so impressive, but they are effortless.
Happy Anniversary Richa! Your cookbook is a must-have in my kitchen (of course!), and looks wise beyond it’s years. (Or I haven’t gotten any tidier in the kitchen 😉 ).
I’ve made quite a few of your recipes since I started following your blog half a year or more ago (all incredibly delicious, by the way!), but honestly, the thing I’ve made the most is your amazing, perfect 100% whole wheat sandwich bread. My husband and I try to stay away from scary and unnecessary ingredients as much as possible so I’ve been making a double batch of bread every week and it’s hard to imagine what store-bought even tastes like anymore. I’ve sent a few people links to various recipes and my sister is a Richa convert! Thank you so much for all of the wonderful recipes you’ve shared with us, I always look forward to a new one showing up in my inbox <3
i tend to like the recipes that use chickpeas the most.
LOVE love the Spicy Crispy Kung Pao Cauliflower recipe! I’m making it again tonight and going to make it for family flying in from Oklahoma next week! I’m converted!
This looks like something I need to try! I live in Denmark, and it is often difficult to get hold on the different spices without ordering of the internet.
I have followed your blog for 2 years now, and have loved every single recipe I have tried. My favorites are the many Dal recipes though.
Thank you for sharing all those recipes on the blog, it is much appreciated and when I feel confused about what to make for dinner, I always know where to look!
This looks fantastic! I love going to Penzeys and collecting spices and blends, but I really love the idea of making my own!
As far as your recipes, I feel like I’ve made a couple of the chana masala recipes quite often. The most recent peanut butter curry was amazing (but I need to make it in small batches because I do have a tendency to feast on it!)… and I am looking forward to trying your red lentil quiche recipe.
I have your website on my browser bar and I literally come here every morning, even before I check my email! Your recipes are such an inspiration!
I’ve made your Chickpea Flour Scramble at least three times already in the past couple of weeks – love it – and the Rajma/Kidney Bean Curry & the Kitchari have become dinner regulars from your book – adore them!
Bitter and Murky
The chickpea curry is so delicious and comforting. Even good for breakfast 🙂
I really like the Kidney Bean Curry! Yummy!
Oh I forget the actual name of it now but the mango curry recipe from you book was soo good! I absolutely loooove mangos so it one of my favorites 🙂
you book is now my bible for cooking. you are a genius with how you have put together all veggie and indian food and easy to follow directions. i made my own Garam Masala for the first time ever following your recipe in my vitamix. you are right, it is in lots of your recipes and comes in handy. tastes and smells awesome.
my wife comes from Chennai India and is strict vegetarian and paranoid of anything that involves meat. we got married last year and she thought there was no way i could cook from a book. well she is now convinced i am a great cook because of you! your recipes and blog posts have turned me onto so much flavor and spice cooking with all veggie.
We love your SPICY CRISPY KUNG PAO CAULIFLOWER RECIPE the most . . . today! Actually, we usually love the most recent recipe the most and that’s the last one we made. Delicious!
I’ve made your Samosa Pinwheels often. They are a great finger food dinner, and my 5-year old and 2-year old love them and think they’re fun!
I happen to love garam masala on sweet potatoes before roasting. So simple and so tasty! I religiously make your chocolate chip almond butter blondies as they’re one of the few healthy-ish recipes my super picky son will eat! This is one of MANY recipes of yours that we just adore and have wishing for your cookbook ever since it came out 🙂
I absolutely love your blog. I’ve made your “oil free lentil soup/spicy garlic dal” literally at least 10 times. It’s a staple in our household. It is so delicious!!
This recipe for garam masala looks worth trying . I have done numerous versions, and they’re always subject to the style of the authors, never the same twice. Such a cool thing to experience. This looks so tasty!
Thank you for this recipe … I love making my own spice blends. I also appreciate learning what the words garam and masala mean.
We’ve been enjoying many of your recipes but one of our all-time favorites is the Patta Gobi Chole recipe. I love cabbage and this is one of the most flavorful versions around. Thank you so much!
Your parathas! We need them to scoop up the sauces. Would like be looking veg to win cookbook thanks for giveaway. Fun to see other readers favorites, too.
I’ve been using Garam Masala for years and love the flavors. Thank you for educating us on Garam Masal and Curry spices, I always learn!
People, you HAVE to try the Biryani recipe from the book. It’s very good!
If only this was posted a week earlier! I just bought garam masala for the time, to make one of your chana dals actually. I had no idea what to look for! It sat in my car for a few hours, and I can still smell it when I get in there! I totally would have made my own if I had known what was in it. I have made you lentil kidney bean chili so many times…It became a favorite after come home from a hike in the cold rain!
This is my favorite vegan blog right now! I am charmed by you and your lovely food. Your recipes are so accessible, which is frankly unexpected in the world of Indian Vegan cuisine. I often have most of the ingredients on hand and if not can find something to substitute with. My go to recipe has been the Chickpeas in Tumeric Peanut Butter Curry. My (non vegan) 18 year old son ate the cold leftovers from the fridge one morning for breakfast and has requested it several times since. Its sooo good, better than most cafes. THANK YOU!
I came to buy your book finally, been following for ages. Found a giveaway! Our son came back from India and we fulfilled his reminiscing food fantasies with your blog. The only one we repeated was easy jackfruit curry. Excellent.
I’ve been loving your turmeric lemon rice recipe the most lately. Most of your food pics I just want to eat right through my screen! I would love to have your cookbook!! <3
We love the avocado naan! Thanks for the chance to win your amazing cookbook