Whenever you get to enjoy an authentic Indian dish, the chances are high that it contains Garam Masala, more or less. That is why we thought that an exposition about the spices in Garam Masala would be necessary at this point.

The content in this blend can vary from region to region in India. However, typical Garam Masala Ingredients can include:

  1. Coriander seeds
  2. Cinnamon
  3. Black pepper
  4. Green cardamom
  5. Black cardamom
  6. Cloves
  7. Cumin
  8. Nutmeg
  9. Mace
  10. Bay leaves
  11. Ginger
  12. Kashmiri Red Chili
  13. Fennel seeds
  14. Caraway seeds
  15. Star Anise

So, in this feature, we will discuss how these warm spices in this spice blend combine with each other to flavor endless dishes. Keep reading!

What Spices Are In Garam Masala?

The Hindi term “Garam” means “hot or warm” in English, and “Masala” means “Spices”. So, as its name suggests, this spice mix is indeed a blend of warm flavorings. 

As we mentioned in our introduction, the recipe of this mix can vary from region to region and even from home to home in India. Nevertheless, Punjabi Garam Masala and Kashmiri Garam Masala take a prominent place in many dishes it calls for.

What Spices Are In Garam Masala - SpiceRally

The sources also say that the list of ingredients of this blend takes up to 32 different spices! However, in the list in our feature today, we have brought you 15 of the most commonly used flavors in this mixture.

01- Coriander Seeds

Dry coriander seeds are a staple in this spice mix, no matter to what variation it is used. This spice is dry roasted before grinding in with other ingredients.

Coriander seeds are lemony and slightly sweet with floral notes and a warm, nutty aroma. The flavor and aroma often intensify when dry roasted. It combines well with other spices in the mix like cinnamon, cloves, fennel, and nutmeg.

02- Cinnamon

Like coriander seeds, cinnamon is also a traditional spice in any variety of Garam Masala mix. Usually, cinnamon pieces or quills are dry roasted together with other spices to make this blend.

The flavor of cinnamon can have slight differences depending on its type. However, the general taste of this spice is known to be woody and slightly sweet, with mild spicy and citrusy notes. It combines well with other spices like cloves, nutmeg, coriander, cumin, and ginger.

We know that just learning about the spices in Garam Masala is not enough for you. So, knowing you well, here we have the best homemade Garam Masala recipe. Check it out!

03- Black Pepper

Whole black peppercorns offer the perfect peppery and spicy punch to this spice combination. We don’t see any recipe omitting this ingredient. Therefore, this spice is also another staple in this powder.

Earthy, warm, spicy, peppery, and woodsy black peppercorns have a sharp aroma, and just like any other spice, the smell and taste intensify when dry roasted. This spice pairs well with bay leaves, caraway seeds, cardamom, coriander, and cumin.

04- Green Cardamom

Whole green cardamom pods are very aromatic and have a flavor note of mint, pepper, and eucalyptus. The green outer peel and seeds are both incorporated in this blend.

We can see this spice in both Punjabi, and Kashmiri Garam Masala mixes. It is a spice that makes lovely couples with other ingredients in the mix like caraway, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, and cumin.

05- Black Cardamom

Big cardamoms or black whole cardamom pods are often used in this spice blend. And, this spice is used along with green cardamoms. Although all the recipes do not call for this ingredient, many recipes still do.

Black cardamoms add a distinctively smoky flavor to this blend with its dusky and pungent hints. It also has an intense taste than green cardamoms and pairs pleasingly with black pepper, cumin seeds, green cardamoms, and cinnamon used in the mix.

Indian cuisine is the powerhouse of many flavorsome spice blends, and Tikka Masala is another of them. If you need to check out what spices are used in Tikka Masala, click here.

06- Cloves

Being another staple to the mix, cloves are amazingly flavorful, blending really well with other spices like cinnamon, coriander seeds, nutmeg, ginger, and fennel.

Clove pods are also dry roasted along with other ingredients in the mix. And its astringent, sharp, subtly sweet, and spicy flavor and warm aroma boost with the roasting process.

07- Cumin

Tiny cumin seeds provide immense flavor to this blend, and that is one main reason for it to become a standard in the blend. We can often see this spice in both Kashmiri and Punjabi recipes.

Cumin has a nutty element with a slightly sweet and warming flavor. This spice goes in really well with other ingredients in the blend like cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, and nutmeg.

08- Nutmeg

Nutmeg is another one of the warm Garam Masala ingredients that is often used in many recipes. Nutmeg comes as a whole seed, so it is often freshly grated and then dry-roasted with other ingredients when added to the mix. Or else, nutmeg powder is also included.

This spice is pretty aromatic and has a nutty, woody, intense and sweet flavor. Due to its overwhelming taste, nutmeg is used moderately. It comes together well with other spices in the mix like mace, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, and cumin.

If you are a Garam Masala fan, you may be interested in learning about tandoori masala too. We have a complete explanation of the spices used in tandoori masala. Click here for further reference.

09- Mace

Mace is another element of the spice nutmeg but with a completely different flavor profile than that of nutmeg. This can be seen in many Kashmiri and Punjabi recipes. But some blends are also made without mace.

Mace has a flavor combination of cinnamon and pepper with a warm and woody note and a slightly sweet taste. It has a less intense flavor than nutmeg and makes friends with other spices like cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, and black pepper.

10- Bay Leaves

Dried bay leaves are a signature flavor for this blend, working both as a spice and a herb. This is also an ingredient used both in Punjabi and Kashmiri mixes.

Bay leaves add a depth of flavor with mint and eucalyptus notes and hints of pepper and Christmas tree pine. It bonds with other ingredients in the mix like cardamom, cloves, fennel seeds, and black pepper.

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11- Ginger Powder

Ginger is not actually a staple in most recipes, but some use it for extra warmth and flavor. Dry ginger powder is not as intense as fresh ginger. But still, it is good enough to be added to the mix.

This spice is sweet, floral with a slight peppery touch. And it pairs well with other warming spices like cloves, nutmeg, and cinnamon used in this blend.

12- Kashmiri Red Chili

This red chili is used primarily in the Kashmiri Garam Masala recipes. It is not an ingredient in the traditional recipe, but some people use it for additional flavor and especially to bring color to the blend. 

This spice is also added as a whole to be dry-roasted like any other ingredient. It has a mild heat- rich with tangy and fruit flavors, and it teams up with all spices in the blend.

You might need love and fresh air to breathe and live happily. But did you ever know the power of a pinch of Garam Masala in your food!


13- Fennel Seeds

Fennel seeds look like cumin seeds but are much different in flavor. This spice is also used in both varieties of this spice mix.

Fennel seeds are sweet and warm that have a note of licorice. Star anise, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, and cumin are the spices in this blend that goes really well with this spice.

14- Caraway Seeds

This spice is once again not a standard ingredient, but still, it can be savored in many Garam Masala recipes made in India. It goes together great with cumin, fennel, and coriander used in the mix itself.

Caraway seeds have a sharp flavor that is bitter-sweet and that have anise and citrus notes. It is also used as a whole with other spices to be dry-roasted before making the spice blend.

15- Star Anise

Star anise usually adds an in-depth flavor note to Garam Masala with its robust and distinctive warm, sweet, spicy, and licorice-like taste elements. 

Although this spice is also not a standard ingredient, many use it for a unique warming bite in the blend. It pairs with other spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger in the mix.

What Ingredients Are In Garam Masala Powder? 

Garam Masala powder is a blend of many spices such as:

  • Coriander seeds
  • Cinnamon
  • Black pepper
  • Green cardamom
  • Black cardamom
  • Cloves
  • Cumin
  • Mace
  • Nutmeg
  • Ginger
  • Bay leaves
  • Kashmiri Red Chili
  • Fennel seeds
  • Caraway seeds
  • Star Anise

Generally, no other ingredient or flavoring other than spices are added to this flavorful spice blend.

Is Allspice The Same As Garam Masala?

Allspice and Garam Masala are NOT the same, and they are two different food flavor enhancers.

Allspice is actually not a blend of spices as suggested by the name. Instead, it is a single spice that comes from the berry of the Pimenta dioica tree. Conversely, Garam Masala is a combination of several spices that have been ground and made into a single powder.

If you need to learn anything more about allspice, feel free to click here and refer to our comprehensive feature on allspice.

Is Garam Masala A Curry Powder?

A curry powder usually means a blend of multiple spices. As the sources say, a traditional curry powder comprises about 20 different spices. At the same time, Garam Masala is also a blend of several spices that goes up to 32 in its list.

However, the ingredients used can vary slightly, and Garam Masala ingredients can be more assertive in flavor than that in curry powder. Thus, Garam Masala can be a variation of a curry powder, but it is actually NOT “curry powder”.

Warm And Pungent- Garam Masala Is A Megastar In The Indian Cuisine!

From popularly known Butter Chicken to the most nuanced vegetarian, vegan or non-veg dishes, adding a dash of this spice blend is genuinely a delectable punch! 

Spices in Garam Masala are warm, pungent, aromatic, and flavorful, giving the mix its most unique and distinctive flavor elements. So, when you hit on a container of this spice blend next time, don’t hesitate to buy one and sprinkle on your favorite meat or vegetable dish!

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