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Garam Masala Substitute

Garam Masala Substitute

You might need a Garam Masala substitute to cook with if you’ve run out mid-recipe, if you’re allergic to specific ingredients in the spice mix, or you just can’t find garam masala near you. 

Whatever the case may be, this article is for you!

Garam Masala is vital in Indian cuisine, actively enhancing flavors and adding depth to dishes. Incorporating Garam Masala into dishes transforms ordinary ingredients into extraordinary meals, making it indispensable in many traditional Indian recipes. 

Let’s take a look at a garam masala substitute or two, then we will look at ratios and uses.

Substitutes for garam masala, I can create a brief summary table:

SubstituteSuggested Use or Ratio
Chaat MasalaUse similar amount
Curry PowderSame ratio
AllspiceUse in a lesser quantity
Cumin and CorianderEqual parts of both
BaharatSame ratio as garam masala
A bowl of garam masala powder with a wooden spoon on a dark wooden table.

Common Garam Masala Substitutes

Garam Masala, a classic spice blend in Indian cuisine, imparts a unique depth of flavor and aroma to dishes. However, there are instances when this flavorful mix might not be readily available. Here, we delve into common substitutes that allow you to infuse your culinary creations with that sought-after Garam Masala essence.

Cinnamon, Clove, and Cardamom Combo

A simple yet effective substitute combines ground cinnamon, cloves, and cardamom in equal parts. This blend captures Garam Masala‘s warmth and complexity. A pinch of black pepper can provide a subtle kick, mimicking its peppery undertones.


Sprinkle this substitute toward the end of cooking to replicate Garam Masala’s aromatic impact. Add it to curries, stews, and rice dishes, allowing the spices to meld seamlessly into the flavors.


Since cardamom contributes a bold and unique citrusy note, start with a smaller amount to avoid overpowering the dish. Taste and adjust until you achieve the desired balance.

Coriander-Cumin Duo

Mixing ground coriander and cumin seeds offers an earthy and mildly spicy alternative. While not a replica, this substitute imparts a hearty essence reminiscent of Garam Masala’s complexity.


Sprinkle in your coriander and cumin mix while sautéing onions and garlic at the beginning of cooking. It infuses the base with warm undertones, working well in gravies, sauces, and soups.


As this substitute lacks Garam Masala’s sweetness and specific aromatic components, consider adding a pinch of ground cloves or cardamom to enhance depth and balance.

Allspice and Cinnamon Fusion

Mix ground allspice and cinnamon for a close semblance of Garam Masala’s profile. Allspice contains flavors similar to multiple Garam Masala ingredients, delivering a well-rounded essence.


Introduce this substitute early in cooking, allowing the flavors to meld harmoniously. Ideal for marinades, roasted vegetables, and even baked goods to provide an intriguing twist.


Allspice carries natural sweetness, so monitor the level of sweetness in your dish and adjust other seasonings accordingly.

While these substitutes offer a semblance of Garam Masala’s distinct taste, each brings its character to the table. Always remember to tailor adjustments to suit your palate. While the substitutes may not replicate Garam Masala precisely, they certainly bring their flair to your culinary creations.

A bowl and spoon of garam masala.

What is Garam Masala?

Garam Masala is an aromatic spice blend, including ground cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, and cumin. It is a flavor-packed ingredient that immerses a warm and robust essence in curries, stews, and rice.

Garam Masala plays a crucial role in cooking by infusing dishes with robust, distinctive flavors. It is used in a variety of recipes across Indian cuisine, enhancing both vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes. Many cooks add it during the final stages of cooking to preserve its aromatic essence. 

In curries, stews, and lentil dishes, Garam Masala contributes depth and warmth. It is sprinkled on rice and used in marinades for grilled meats, intensifying their taste. Whether in savory snacks like samosas or sweet treats like chai, Garam Masala contributes its complex blend of spices to various Indian recipes, transforming them into profoundly flavorful and aromatic culinary delights.

What is Garam Masala Made of?

Garam Masala is a mix of ground spices like cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, cumin, coriander, and black peppercorns. People may use different ingredients, depending on where they’re from. But these main spices give Garam Masala its unique warm aroma and flavor in Indian cooking.

The Flavor of Garam Masala

Garam Masala boasts a robust, aromatic flavor profile that combines sweet, spicy, and earthy flavors. The warmth of cinnamon and cloves, combined with the citrusy essence of cardamom, creates a complex, savory, and slightly tangy taste. Garam Masala adds a deep and cozy flavor to dishes, making them tasty in a unique way.

Creating Your Own Garam Masala Blend

Creating your homemade Garam Masala blend is an exciting activity that allows you to tailor the flavors to your preference. Below is a simple homemade Garam Masala recipe you can try out the next time you find yourself in a bind!

Homemade Garam Masala Recipe

Garam Masala is all about the right mix of spices. For a basic homemade version, you’ll need:

  • One tablespoon of ground cumin
  • One tablespoon of ground coriander
  • One tablespoon of ground cardamom
  • One teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • One teaspoon of ground cloves
  • One teaspoon of ground black pepper

Step 1: In a small bowl, combine all the ground spices.

Step 2: Mix spices thoroughly until you have a uniform blend.

Step 3: Store the Garam Masala in an airtight container in a cool, dry place. Doing this ensures its freshness and lasting flavor.

Balancing Flavors in Your Garam Masala

Creating a harmonious Garam Masala blend is more than just combining spices; it’s about striking a perfect balance of flavors. Each spice is vital in contributing its unique essence to the mix. Here’s how to achieve that balance:

  1. Sweet and Spicy: Cardamom and cinnamon bring sweetness and warmth, respectively. They counteract the zest of other spices like cloves and black pepper.
  2. Earthiness: Cumin and coriander add an earthy depth that complements the other flavors. They provide a strong foundation for the blend.
  3. Intensity: Cloves and black pepper contribute boldness and intensity. A little goes a long way here; they should be present but not overpowering.
  4. Aroma: Cardamom and cinnamon also elevate the blend with a wildly fragrant aroma.

When crafting your Garam Masala, start with smaller quantities and gradually adjust the amounts until you achieve the desired taste. 

Remember, taste-testing is your ally—trust your palate to guide you.

Crafting your Garam Masala blend empowers you to control the symphony of flavors in your dishes. You can create a mixture that reflects your taste preferences and culinary personality through thoughtful selection and careful adjustment.

A wooden spoon filled with garam masala powder on a wooden table.

The bottom line

Garam Masala is an iconic Indian spice blend that elevates every dish’s flavor profile. Crafting your Garam Masala blend empowers you to control the symphony of flavors in your dishes. You can create a mixture that reflects your taste preferences and culinary personality in every dish you prepare through thoughtful selection and careful adjustment.

The blend may be unavailable in your location, or you might just be an adventurous cook who desires to create a unique flavor profile.

Are you ready to try using your very own Garam Masala substitute?

More About Garam Masala

  • What Is Garam Masala?
  • Chaat Masala vs Garam Masala
  • Curry Powder vs Garam Masala
  • Tandoori Masala vs Garam Masala
  • Tikka Masala vs Garam Masala