Garam masala in our A-Z - Cooking Index
Garam masala is a mixture of ground spices used in Indian cooking. The phrase 'garam masala' means warm (as in spicy/aromatic) mixture.
There is no definitive garam masala recipe and across the Indian subcontinent the exact make of up spices and different amounts of each added to the mixture varies dramatically. Cumin, coriander seeds, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and black pepper are the most commonly found ingredients while bay leaves, dried red peppers, dried garlic, fennel seeds, mustard seeds and turmeric are all quite often included.
Commercially sold garam masala mixes will tend to be heavier on the less expensive spices (especially cumin) and tends to lose its pungency and flavor quickly after opening, as do most ground spices.
Garam masala is used both in the preparation stages of a dish as well as often added at the end of the cooking process to impart a final aroma to a dish.