Discover the 3 Garam Masala Substitutes in Your Spice Rack

Find easy swaps for garam masala when you're in the mood for something uniquely rich and spicy.

Garam masala is a blend of spices used widely in Indian cooking. While you can pick up this warming spice in grocery stores, did you know you can also make your own garam masala with your spice collection?

The next time you run out of this store-bought spice or the bottle in your cupboard has become stale, check out the three substitutes recommended by chefs and culinary enthusiasts.

What Does Garam Masala Taste Like and How Is It Used?

Garam masala stands for hot spice. The hotness refers to the spices' warming effect rather than the spice blend's pungency. Garam masala has a medley of flavors due to several spices present.

Related: What is Garam Masala? This beloved Indian spice blend varies depending on where it's made

What is unique about garam masala is that no two blends will have the same flavor and aroma. Generally speaking, it is a fragrant spice mixture with noticeable sweetness, tanginess, and earthiness from cinnamon, coriander, cumin, and cardamom. Some blends may also have spicy notes from added peppercorns and dried red chilies.

Typically, the garam masala you see at grocery stores is a powdered form commonly used in Northern India. Southern India uses garam masala in a paste, where the spice blend is mixed with water, vinegar, or coconut milk.

Garam masala is used in small amounts to season meat, fish, and vegetarian dishes closer to the end of cooking or sprinkled on top of the dish, giving it a rich aroma.

Get the recipe: Veg Biryani

What Spices Are In Garam Masala?

The typical spices in the garam masala blend are cumin, coriander, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, black pepper, and nutmeg. Depending on the individual making the spice blend and where they are from, the spices in garam masala vary. Some variations have bay leaves, fennel seeds, mustard seeds, turmeric, and mace.

Best Garam Masala Substitutes

Curry Powder

While curry powder's aromatic qualities are different from garam masala, the former offers a similar complexity of flavors and aromas. Curry powder works well with a wide range of dishes, and includes some of the key ingredients of garam masala.

To replace garam masala with curry powder in your recipe, use a 1:1 ratio.

Cumin and Allspice Blend

North Carolina-based chef and owner of The Marketplace Restaurant, William Dissen, recommends cumin mixed with allspice as an excellent substitute for garam masala. He says, "This spice combo is very similar to garam masala, and the allspice reminds you of clove, cinnamon, pepper, and even nutmeg. When combined with the cumin, [the flavors lend] well."

Dissen notes that the cumin and allspice blend works well with traditional Indian Bhindi Masala (curried okra). He personally uses this substitute if he runs out of store-bought garam masala spice at home.

Dissen suggests replacing every part of garam masala with 1 part cumin and ¼ part allspice.

Related: Amazing Indian Recipes to Make with Garam Masala

Make Your Own Blend

Anna Vocino, founder and author of Eat Happy Kitchen, recommends making your own blend with coriander, cumin, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and black pepper. She says that this combination of spices mimics the flavor, aroma, and texture of Garam masala. "It has just the right flavor profile and just the right kind of warming heat," Vocino adds.

Vocino adds that dry roasting the spice releases the flavor oils, and grinding the spices makes the flavor more robust. "Use this blend of spices as a dry rub on chicken thighs for the grill or as a spice to flavor Chicken Tikka Masala," Vocino says.

To make this spice blend, Vocino recommends an equal portion of each spice mixed to create a 1:1 ratio.


Read the original article on All Recipes.