Garam masala recipe

12.41, Wednesday 31 Dec 2014

I spent 30 minutes yesterday making up a fresh batch of garam masala. It’s a curry staple so I use it a bunch – but usually I buy it pre-blended. That’s a problem because the flavour is not consistent between brands… everyone has their favourite blend and personally I don’t like my garam masala too peppery.

So here’s a recipe I like, from Curry (DK Publishing).


  • 50g coriander seeds
  • 50g cumin seeds
  • 20 green cardamom pods
  • 10 cinnamon sticks each 2.5cm/1 inch long
  • 2 tbsp cloves
  • 10 blades mace
  • 10 black cardamom pods
  • Half a nutmeg
  • 1 tbsp black peppercorns
  • 4 cinnamon leaves or bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp dried rose petals
  • 1 tbsp fennel seeds


From the book…

Heat a dry frying pan and add all the spices. Stir them and shake the pan as they start to crackle. When they smell roasted and aromatic, remove the pan from the heat and tip the spices on to a plate. Allow to cool.

To grind the spices, use a mortar and pestle or a spice mill (or a clean coffee grinder).

I used ground black pepper instead of peppercorns, and bay leaves rather than cinnamon leaves. I doubled up on all the quantities, and broke up the pods, sticks, and leaves before toasting: it looked pretty colourful.

We have an electric coffee grinder that’s only used for spices.

It smells and tastes fantastic.

Other recipes

This tandoori chicken recipe is the best I’ve found, and it includes a recipe for a blend called tandoori masala which I now keep in a jar on the shelf. It also requires yet another blend, a tangy one called chaat masala which has dried powdered mango in it. I found that in a store on Drummond St near Euston.

Still on the lookout for a better recipe though. Tandoori chicken and naan is one of those Platonic solids of food, apparently dead simple but actually an ur-food where it’s worth sweating the details because when it’s perfect it’s perfect.

Cheese on toast is like that too.

And here’s my chicken pilau which includes a recipe for whole garam masala. You soak the spices to bring the flavours out, rather than toasting, and add at the beginning rather than the end. All these methods!

Happy new year. I hope you have a great 2015 lined up.

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