I found some wonderful spice mixtures in my local grocery store that I use on grilled chicken for my daughter.  After tasting them and reading the labels, I was very surprised to learn that these products are made up of the same spices that comprise garam masala.  They are not advertised as Indian spice mixtures or garam masala but taste the same.  I’m impressed that Indian spices have become a part of the everyday American cooking experience.

Garam masala is an aromatic mixture that is usually used in non-vegetarian dishes, and in some vegetarian dishes, to give them a rich flavor. It literally translates from Hindi as ‘hot spice’ even though this mixture is not spicy hot. Some of the recipes in Kachi’s Kitchen that use it include:



Pachacurry (Vegetable) Puffs and Cutlets
Beet Cutlets

Kovakka Upperi

Vazhuthinanga (Aubergine) Cutlets



Paruppu (Dal)
Paruppu (Toor Dal) Vada 

Vella Kadala (Kabuli Chenna) Masala

Cheera (Spinach) with Vella Kadala (Chickpeas)


Mutta (Egg) Chapati
Malabar Mutta (Egg) Curry
Kozhi (Chicken) Biryani

Kozhi (Chicken) Cutlets

Kozhi (Chicken) Fry

Madras Chicken Curry


Madras Meen (Fish) Curry
Meen (Fish) Tikka

Stir-Fried Meen (Fish)


Erechi (Lamb) Curry
Kheema Curry

Unda (Kofta) Curry


Pachacurry (Vegetable) Pulav


Thakkali (Tomato) Chutney

Garam masala is usually made from cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, pepper and cardamom which are roasted and ground.  The ingredients and their amounts used vary regionally across the country. In addition, it is often made with dried red chilies, cardamom pods, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, fennel seeds, bay leaves and star anise.  By varying the recipe, the flavor is customized to complement the recipe for which it is used.  It is best when made fresh as the flavors and aroma are at their peak.  If you make it ahead, store it in an airtight container and use it as quickly as possible.

Below is Kachi’s recipe for garam masala.  It is a simple recipe that has a wonderful flavor.

Kachi’s Garam Masala Spice Mix Kerala Style


Garam masala spice mix

Garam masala spice mix

¼ cup  dried red chilies, ends trimmed and seeds removed
½ cup  coriander seeds
2½ Tbs  fennel seeds
2½ tsp  cumin seeds
1 tsp  cardamom pods, smashed with shells
¼ tsp  cloves
2½  tsp  black peppercorns
4 cinnamon sticks
2 bay leaves    


In a skillet over medium heat without any oil, roast the spices dry for 5 minutes stirring frequently with a wooden spoon.  Cool and powder the spices coarsely in a blender.  Store in an airtight jar.



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