Garam masala is a ground spice blend commonly used in Indian cuisine. It adds aroma and flavor to a dish depending on when you add it. But do you know that there is no set recipe for garam masala?
Keep reading to learn more about the variety of ingredients you can find in a garam masala recipe and how it influences the dish. We have also done an extensive research to bring you the best garam masala you can buy online in India from top brands like TATA, Aashirvaad, Everest, and more.
Garam masala is normally added towards the end of the cooking process to leave the aromatic flavors intact. But it is also not unusual to add it at the beginning of cooking to give the dish a smoky base note of pepper and cumin. You can even sprinkle garam masala on the surface of curries, soups, stews, and papads before serving.
But you can't replace garam masala with curry powder. Although curry powders have a similar spice blend to garam masala, both differ in terms of pungency and flavor. Garam masala has a sharp and strong flavor profile, while curry powder is milder and sweeter. A curry powder also adds color to the dish since it can have chilli and turmeric powder.
Garam masala is brown and is only added in smaller quantities. Unlike curry powder, it doesn't give your dish a bright color. While cooking non-vegetarian dishes, you can use garam masala as a dry rub or in the marinade to enhance the meat's natural flavors. Learn more from the buying guide below.
Our buying guide below will help you choose the right garam masala for your needs. Keep reading to learn more about the ingredients, packing style, shelf life, and more. You can use the information in this section later while shopping from our top 10 list.
The ingredients in garam masala can vary depending on the region you live in or even on the recipe handed down from the previous generations. So how do we decide which store-bought garam masala is best for the dishes we prepare? For that, you should know the flavor each ingredient can give to a dish.
The ingredients normally present in a garam masala recipe are green cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, coriander, cumin, nutmeg, and black cardamom. These ingredients have a sharp and strong flavor profile. Apart from these, you can also find bay leaves, mace, ajowan, stone flower, pepper, and allspice. The truth is, there can be many ingredients present in garam masala.
You can also find some companies adding turmeric, chilli, and ginger powder to garam masala—the ingredients that differentiate curry powder from garam masala. These can make a dish spicy and colorful. Some companies also add salt and asafoetida to their garam masala. Both act as flavor enhancers, with asafoetida adding an onion-garlic flavor.
Some of the flavor profiles in readymade garam masala are - Stone flower has a woody fragrance and doesn't have any taste of its own but adds a peculiar flavor to the dish. Allspice gives notes of cardamom, clove, nutmeg, and pepper, while ajowan adds a bitter taste. If you want to add minty notes, go for one that has bay leaves.
An ingredient to look out for in garam masala is cassia, also known as Chinese cinnamon. It is of lower quality than the much sought after Ceylon cinnamon. Cassia contains high levels of a compound called coumarin, which is known to cause liver damage. So if you use garam masala daily, check the ingredients list to make sure that it doesn't contain cassia.
Companies may grind spices in high-speed roller mills. The disadvantage of this process is that the heat generated can destroy the natural oils present in the spices, which give them their signature properties. Some companies even include preservatives and anti-caking agents, which may cause allergic reactions in people sensitive to them.
If you choose garam masala sabut or whole garam masala pack, you can grind them at home using a stone grinder or a mortar and pestle. This will preserve the natural goodness of the spices since there is no heat generated that can destroy the natural oils and their nutritious value. Another benefit of choosing whole garam masala is, you get to choose the ingredients you want to grind.
For example, bay leaves can give minty hints to a dish. If the one you are preparing doesn't require such flavors, you can leave bay leaves out while grinding the spices. Whole spices also don't lose their aroma and flavor as quickly as ground spices, giving you the flexibility of grinding them as and when required.
As you already know, it's not just the flavor that matters when it comes to garam masala, but also the aroma. That's why it is added at the final stage of cooking. Companies also take extra care to ensure that the masala retains all its properties even after the packet is opened.
For example, TATA Sampann garam masala comes in five sachets. You only have to transfer 20 grams at a time to your own airtight container while the rest of the sachets can be stored away safely. Some companies like Aashirvaad provide their garam masala in resealable zip-lock bags, so you store them in a refrigerator without taking up much space.
Companies like Cafe Junyali, Nutty Yogi, and Natureland Organics provide garam masala in glass containers. They are airtight and eliminates the need for transferring the contents to one of your own. We recommend buying a product that strikes a balance between the quality of ingredients and your storage needs.
Normally, pre-ground and whole garam masala have a shelf life of 12 months. But this can go down significantly if you don't store it properly. Both types should be stored in airtight containers to preserve their aroma and flavor.
Although whole spices don't lose their properties as quickly as ground ones, it is still recommended to follow strict storage practices. You also have the option of storing them in the resealable zip-lock bags they come in. But they won't be as efficient as containers.
It is also recommended to avoid handling whole spices with wet hands to prevent mold growth. Garam masala extract can retain its properties longer as there is minimal contact with air every time to open the bottle. You find out more about it in the next section.
Garam masala drops contain the original aroma and flavor of spices as it is a blend of spice extracts. You can use it in a marinade or the last stage of cooking. Adding a drop or two after you turn off the flame can also make your dish smell and taste good. There are several benefits to using garam masala drops instead of powder.
The best of all is the convenience factor. Instead of grinding spices (if you make garam masala at home) or measuring the powder using a teaspoon, you just have to add the required number of drops to the dish and stir it. The quantity or the number of drops may differ from one brand to another. For example, one drop of Spice Liquid's garam masala drops is equivalent to 1/4 tsp of ground spices.
Drops are also convenient for adding them to tea for drinking masala chai. But take a look at the ingredients list for the presence of salt, asafoetida, or chilli, as these are not acceptable ingredients for masala chai. Since drops have a lesser chance of coming into contact with air, their aroma stays preserved longer.
Here is our top 10 list featuring the best garam masalas from top brands like TATA, Aashirvaad, Hathi, and more. You will find products with a variety of ingredients and packing styles. Choose one that suits the dishes you prepare and your storage needs.
|Ingredients||Coriander, Turmeric, Chilli, Fennel, Black Pepper, Cumin, Salt, Ginger Powder, Mustard, Green Chilli Powder, Fenugreek (leaves), Cinnamon, Coriander (Leaves), Cloves, Allspice, Asafoetida, Cardamom, Mace|
|Ingredients||Bay Leaves 25g, Ajwain 25g, Kali Ellaichi 15g, Black Pepper 100g, Green Cardamom 25g, Long Pepper (Pipali) 25g, Cinnamon 50g, Cloves 25g, Jeera 100g, Dry Ginger 50g, Saunf 50g, Meethi 100g, Javintri 10g, Mustard 100g & Star Aniseeds 25g|
|Ingredients||Red Chillies, Coriander Seeds, Cumin, Black Pepper, Khus Khus, Cinnamon, Cloves, Shahi Jeera, Badiyan, Mace, Fenugreek Seeds, Bayleaf, Nagkeshar, Masala Elaichi, Asafoetida, Turmeric, Nutmeg.|
|Ingredients||Rose Petals, Peppercorn, Black Cardamom, Green Cardamom, Clove, Cinnamon, Mace, Fennel, Coriander Seed, Cumin, Star Anise, Nutmeg, Red Chilli Powder, Pipli, Pipla, Carom Seeds, Shahi Jeera, Pathar ke Phool|
|Ingredients||Coriander, Cumin, Black Pepper, Cinnamon, Dried Ginger, Bay Leaves, Fenugreek Leaves, Cardamom, Red Chillies, Cloves, Nutmeg, Mace, and Rock Salt|
|Ingredients||Coriander, Cumin, Black Pepper, Bay Leaves, Cloves, Cassia, Cardamom, Star Anise, Mace, Nutmeg, Iodized Salt, Refined Sunflower Oil|
|Ingredients||coriander, cumin, black pepper, chilli, cassia, cassia leaf, clove, black cardamom, anistar, fennel seeds, dry ginger, triphala common salt, caraway|
|Ingredients||Coriander, Cumin, Clove, Black Pepper, Cinnamon, Small Cardamom, Fennel, Bay Leaves, Common Salt, Big Cardamom, Ginger, Turmeric, Anistar|
|Ingredients||Extract of Coriander Seeds, Red Chilli, Turmeric, Bay Leaf, Black Pepper, Star Anise, Cumin, Cardamom, Cassia Cinnamon, Clove, Fennel Seeds, Mace, Nutmeg. Permitted Emulsifier (E433 & E1520)|
|Ingredients||Chilli, Cinnamon, Cinnamon Leaf, Coriander, Clove Leaves, Dry Mango, Salt, Indian Gooseberry, Clove, Black Stone Flower, Cardamom, Star Anise, Oil, Cumin, Black Pepper, Turmeric|
Let's Go Nuts
Garam Masala With Natural Oils
Set of 15 Aromatic Whole Garam Masala Spices Combo
Sawantwadi Garam Masala
Garam Masala Powder
Organic Garam Masala Powder
Shahi Garam Masala
Super Garam Masala Powder
Garam Masala Drop
Five Separately Packed Sachets to Preserve Aroma and Flavor
Whole Garam Masala to Stone Grind at Home
Hand Ground to Preserve the Natural Flavor and Aroma
Contains Rose Petals That Has Antiviral, Antibacterial and Antiseptic Properties
Organic Garam Masala With Rock Salt for the Health Conscious
Comes in a Resealable Zip Lock Pouch
With the Goodness of Triphala
Red Chilli and Turmeric Add Flavor and Color to Your Dish
1 Drop Equals 1/4 Tsp of Ground Spices
Jumbo Pack for Restaurants
|Price Starts at||₹84.00||₹844.00||₹365.00||₹199.00||₹120.00||₹79.00||₹74.00||₹56.00||₹95.00||₹460.00|
|Ingredients||Coriander, Turmeric, Chilli, Fennel, Black Pepper, Cumin, Salt, Ginger Powder, Mustard, Green Chilli Powder, Fenugreek (leaves), Cinnamon, Coriander (Leaves), Cloves, Allspice, Asafoetida, Cardamom, Mace||Bay Leaves 25g, Ajwain 25g, Kali Ellaichi 15g, Black Pepper 100g, Green Cardamom 25g, Long Pepper (Pipali) 25g, Cinnamon 50g, Cloves 25g, Jeera 100g, Dry Ginger 50g, Saunf 50g, Meethi 100g, Javintri 10g, Mustard 100g & Star Aniseeds 25g||Red Chillies, Coriander Seeds, Cumin, Black Pepper, Khus Khus, Cinnamon, Cloves, Shahi Jeera, Badiyan, Mace, Fenugreek Seeds, Bayleaf, Nagkeshar, Masala Elaichi, Asafoetida, Turmeric, Nutmeg.||Rose Petals, Peppercorn, Black Cardamom, Green Cardamom, Clove, Cinnamon, Mace, Fennel, Coriander Seed, Cumin, Star Anise, Nutmeg, Red Chilli Powder, Pipli, Pipla, Carom Seeds, Shahi Jeera, Pathar ke Phool||Coriander, Cumin, Black Pepper, Cinnamon, Dried Ginger, Bay Leaves, Fenugreek Leaves, Cardamom, Red Chillies, Cloves, Nutmeg, Mace, and Rock Salt||Coriander, Cumin, Black Pepper, Bay Leaves, Cloves, Cassia, Cardamom, Star Anise, Mace, Nutmeg, Iodized Salt, Refined Sunflower Oil||coriander, cumin, black pepper, chilli, cassia, cassia leaf, clove, black cardamom, anistar, fennel seeds, dry ginger, triphala common salt, caraway||Coriander, Cumin, Clove, Black Pepper, Cinnamon, Small Cardamom, Fennel, Bay Leaves, Common Salt, Big Cardamom, Ginger, Turmeric, Anistar||Extract of Coriander Seeds, Red Chilli, Turmeric, Bay Leaf, Black Pepper, Star Anise, Cumin, Cardamom, Cassia Cinnamon, Clove, Fennel Seeds, Mace, Nutmeg. Permitted Emulsifier (E433 & E1520)||Chilli, Cinnamon, Cinnamon Leaf, Coriander, Clove Leaves, Dry Mango, Salt, Indian Gooseberry, Clove, Black Stone Flower, Cardamom, Star Anise, Oil, Cumin, Black Pepper, Turmeric|
|Quantity||100 grams||725 grams||50 grams||100 grams||100 grams||100 grams||100 grams||200 grams||3 ml||1 kg|
Did you buy whole spices to make your own garam masala at home? Then you should know that there is more than just blending the ingredients. Watch the video to learn the very few processes involved in making your own aromatic and flavorful garam masala at home. Find out:
Salt is a necessary ingredient in numerous recipes. And basmati rice and atta have their own place in the daily diet of people in India. Read our buying to learn more about the various varieties of salts, basmati rice, and atta and how to choose one depending on your needs. We also have a top 10 list featuring the best products you can buy online in India.
Choosing pre-ground garam masala can be a bit confusing if you don't know the type of flavor each ingredient imparts. You can either consult your elders in the family or experiment on your own to find out which product works for the dishes you normally prepare.
Always check the ingredients list for salt, asafoetida, chilli, and turmeric, as these ingredients can impact how your dish will turn out to be. Remember to go for resealable zip-lock bags or sachets to prevent loss of aroma and flavor. You can also consider buying whole garam masala spices for the flexibility of choosing and grinding only the required ingredients best suited for your dishes.
Author - Arun F Xaviour
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