Garam masala translates to warming spices and comes from northern India and is highly aromatic. This spice blend is great on everything from lamb and pork to fish, vegetables, and potatoes.
Substitute for Garam Masala
If you’re all out of garam masala, you can either make your own with a combination of cinnamon, cardamom, pepper, coriander, cumin, mace and bay leaves, or you can use one of the alternatives here to achieve a similar warming flavor.
- Curry Powder
- Allspice & Cumin
- Combine 4 parts ground cumin with 1 part allspice to get an easy garam masala substitute fit for any dish
- Chaat Masala
How to Make Garam Masala
To make your own homemade garam masala mix you’ll need the following ingredients:
- 3-inch cinnamon stick, broken up
- 2 tablespoons black peppercorns
- 2 tablespoons green cardamom seeds, removed from the pod
- 3 tablespoons coriander seeds
- 2 tablespoons cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon ground mace
- 1 bay leaf
- Heat a skillet over medium-high heat and toast the cinnamon sticks, peppercorns, cardamom, coriander and cumin seeds for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently until fragrant.
- Combine with the remaining spices and grind in a spice or coffee bean grinder.
- Let cool and store in an airtight container.
Common Garam Masala Substitution Questions
Can I Use Cumin Instead of Garam Masala?
Yes! To substitute cumin for garam masala, try a 1:1 ratio of cumin to garam masala and adjust to taste, you may have to use up to a 2:1 ratio cumin to garam masala. Consider using a 4:1 mix of cumin and allspice to get a closer flavor to garam masala. Keep in mind, cumin is not a perfect substitute, but will add richness and depth similar to garam masala.
Is Garam Masala the Same as Curry Powder?
No, curry powder and garam masala are two different spice blends, however curry is a suitable substitute for garam masala if you don’t have any garam masala on hand.
Is Garam Masala Spicy?
Not necessarily. Even though garam masala translates to warm spices, the flavors themselves are not hot like a chile pepper would be. This means they have a strong flavor, but it won't burn your mouth.