Make your own Easy Garam Masala substitute at home with ingredients you already have in your spice cabinet. This Garam Masala alternative comes in super handy when you are in a pinch.
What is Garam Masala?
Garam Masala is a wonderful aromatic Indian spice blend, but it can be expensive and labor-intensive to make or hard to find. This quick & easy version can help you out in a pinch.
Let me start out with a disclaimer that this is a quick and easy Garam Masala substitute. I am by no means claiming that this substitute for Garam Masala is just as good as the real thing, but it will certainly work if you need something like Garam Masala spice blend quickly. Real authentic Garam Masala from India comprises whole warming spices, which you first dry toast on low heat, then cool before finally grinding them into a fine powdered spice blend.
It is different from other spice blends like sambhar masala, which includes coriander, cumin, curry leaves, dry red chilies, and lentils, or chaat masala, a spice mix that is commonly used on street food dishes like fruit chaat and chana chaat.
The Challenge of Finding Garam Masala and Whole Spices
Depending on the Indian demographic in your area and whether you have an Asian/Indian specialty store, it may be quite difficult or very expensive to find jarred Garam Masala or all the whole spices to make your own authentic version. It is basically impossible for me where I live right now.
However, I live close to a specialty store with a section that sells many freshly ground spices in bulk – for a fraction of the cost of jarred spices.
I’ve been craving curries quite a bit lately – it’s perfect warming comfort food for the cooler weather we are starting to have. However, I cannot find Thai curry pastes here or the whole spices used in many Indian curries.
Then, by chance, I came across a quick tip for making an easy Garam Masala substitute that will work in a pinch. Now, I can’t wait to make homemade Indian comfort food with this spice blend!
How to Make Garam Masala Substitute
As indicated above, making a replacement for Garam Masala at home is incredibly easy. Rather than toasting and grinding your own spices, you can simply purchase a mixture of ground spices in powder form. This blend of spices includes cumin, coriander, cardamom, black pepper, cinnamon, and cloves. It isn’t really a hot and spicy blend; however, it has tons of complex flavour from the earthiness of the cumin to the sweetness of the cinnamon.
To make the blend, you simply measure the spices into a bowl and mix them together. A whisk can help ensure they are evenly mixed together. These spices include cumin, coriander, cardamom, ground black pepper, ground cinnamon, and ground cloves. Of course, if you have whole spices like a cinnamon stick, cardamom pods, cumin seeds, whole cloves, coriander seeds, and black peppercorns on hand, you could toast them for amplified flavor and grind them separately before measuring out the ground versions for this garam masala substitute recipe. A coffee grinder works particularly well for blending up whole spices.
Once they are blended, I highly recommend placing your own garam masala into an airtight jar before storing it in a cool and dry cupboard. This way the flavours will be less likely to deteriorate quickly and should stay fresh for between 2 and 3 years to use in all your favourite Indian dishes. However, this time will depend on how old the spices are you are starting with.
Garam Masala Uses
Obviously, you can use this easy Garam Masala in the many delicious Indian curry recipes. These include vegetarian stews, Indian butter chicken, chicken tikka masala, and savory dishes in Indian cuisine that call for it. Unlike curry powder though, you stir Garam Masala in at the end to give a dish its finishing touch.
Garam masala is also lovely as a finishing spice if you are wanting to add a little extra flavour and colour to your dish at the end of cooking it. For example, consider sprinkling it over the top of a potato and cauliflower curry at the end to give it some extra pizzaz or even on top of a lovely chickpea curry enriched with tomatoes and spices.
Use it for Snacks
This spice mix also adds a depth of flavour to snacks such as nut mixes and popcorn. If adding it to your homemade popcorn, after popping it, toss it with some hot melted butter and some of this spice blend to taste. The melted butter will help it adhere to the popcorn.
For a homemade nut mix, you could simply toss the spice mix onto a mixture of cashews, almonds, pistachios, and more to add some warming flavour after toasting them. Alternatively, consider making a syrup on the stove, adding some of this garam masala mix, and tossing it with a mixture of nuts before toasting in the oven for a sweet and spicy snack.
On Roasted and Grilled Meat
Although garam masala is commonly used as a spice mixture to add to dishes at the end, you could use it earlier in the cooking process as well. It would be wonderful on roasted or grilled meat like lamb, chicken, or steak.
Overall, if you love Indian food, it is a great idea to have this garam masala substitute on hand along with a few cans of coconut milk, lemons or limes, yogurt, chilies, ginger, and more so that you can make whatever Indian dishes and sauces your heart fancies.
More Homemade Spice Blends You'll Love:
Garam Masala Substitute
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 ½ teaspoons ground coriander
- 1 ½ teaspoons ground cardamom
- 1 ½ teaspoons ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground cloves
- Simply measure out all ground spices into a bowl and whisk until thoroughly mixed through.
- Store this easy Garam Masala spice mix in an airtight container in a cool and dry place until ready to use.
- Tiny jelly mason jars or small food containers work perfectly for storing homemade spice mixes. This keeps them fresh and aromatic and also prevents them from taking on other aromas from your spice cabinet.
Pin this Garam Masala Substitute recipe for later?
You can make a simple substitute by combining ground cumin, coriander, cardamom, black pepper, cinnamon, and cloves.
While they share some common spices, 5 spice and garam masala have distinct flavor profiles. It's best to use the suggested substitute for the closest match.
Garam masala and curry seasoning are different blends. Garam masala typically includes warming spices, while curry seasoning encompasses a broader array of flavors.
Garam masala contains cumin, but it's not a direct substitute. Consider adjusting the other spices in your recipe to maintain the intended flavor.