Homemade Garam Masala

Photo by Tylertronic.

I finally used my smart phone for something smart when I was out, and not just for checking Facebook updates. When the grocery store didn’t have garam masala, I looked up a recipe for the blend on my phone. As I thought, I had the individual spices at home and just needed to restock peppercorns.

I didn’t have them all as whole spices, though. And, I’ve been curious for ages how the volume of whole spices compares to ground. It would be nice to be able to substitute one for the other on the fly. So I did an experiment. I found four spices in my cabinet that I had both commercially ground* and whole and I compared the volumes by weight. Here are my results**:

The spices Volume of whole spices used Weight of whole spices Volume of same weight of ground spices
Allspice 3 teaspoons 5 grams 2.5 teaspoons
Black pepper 3 teaspoons 7 grams 2.5 teaspoons
Cloves 3 teaspoons 5 grams 3 teaspoons
Cumin 3 teaspoons 9 grams 3 teaspoons

I was surprised – I thought that ground spices would compact more than they did. But now I know that if I need to use a ground spice in place of whole ones, I can use the same volume or slightly less, depending on how much we like that particular spice around here.

You may have heard that homemade garam masala tastes much better that store-bought. It’s true. This blows away the commercial stuff. And I love the ability to tweak the blend to my own taste.

I’m sending this to Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted this week by Lynne at Cafe Lynnylu.

Garam Masala

Use whole spices if you have them. If substituting ground, underfill the spoon slightly, unless it’s one of your favorite spices, then fill that spoon up. Tweak this to your own tastes: Do you find nutmeg overwhelming? Underfill your spoon slightly. Can’t get enough of coriander? Use heaping spoonfuls.

3 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons coriander
2 teaspoons black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons cardamom (remove the seeds from the pods)
1 teaspoon cinnamon (about 1-1/2 inch)
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

In a dry skillet, toast the whole spices until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Grind to a powder and set aside. Toast previously ground spices until fragrant, about 1 minute. Combine all spices.

Makes about 3 tablespoons.

*I used commercially ground spices because my spice grinder doesn’t always do a complete job.

**I am such a nerd.

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6 Responses

  1. This is really useful Claire! Thanks for sharing the results of the experiment: I have always wondered about it.
    I need to get a better spice grinder, too. Ground spices lose all their flavour so quickly.

  2. I love it!! Yay for nerdy posts like this! I routinely make my own garam masala concoction for each recipe, but now I am starting to wonder if I should make a master garam masala stash since I use it so much. Thanks for sharing! :)

  3. Thanks for such an informative post and thanks for joining in WHB#270. I have all the ingredients for your garam masala and will mix up a batch today.

  4. Very interesting post, full of useful information. I am slowly migrating to ground-on-demand spices: It’s exciting.

  5. Very good to know! I always end up buying pre-made curry mixes and pastes. This is an excellent idea, and probably saves money too.

  6. I would not call it nerdy, just scholarly! I love your dedication and thorough research and will use it as well. Time to explore making this spice mix after trying the Egyptian one!

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