5 Garam Masala Alternatives That Can Help Your Pantry
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India is a land of spices and there are a variety of spice mixes in different regions that give dimension to regional dishes. Garam masala is one such spice mix that is popular and used in various dishes throughout the country. The name garam masala means “hot spice mix” and instead of being spicy, it means the intense flavour of spices. This spice blend usually contains cinnamon, clove, cardamom, cumin, coriander, nutmeg and black pepper. However, depending on various regions the spices can differ according to flavour profiles.

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The origins of garam masala can be traced back to the Indian subcontinent, where it has been a staple in kitchens for centuries. This spice blend is used to enhance the flavour profile of numerous dishes, from meat curries and vegetable stews to lentil soups and rice preparations. Traditionally, garam masala is added towards the end of the cooking process to preserve its aromatic properties. 

Curry Powder

Curry powder is a common spice mix that can easily be an alternative to garam masala. Mostly in Western countries, people use curry masala as a general Asian spice mix. This blend typically contains turmeric, coriander, jeera and other base spices which give the Indian flavour to their dish. It is primarily used in curries, soups and stews. The spice profile is a little milder as compared to garam masala, but it can also replace garam masala for emergencies. 

Sambar Powder

Sambar powder is a flavorful alternative to garam masala, offering a distinct South Indian twist to your dishes. While garam masala brings warmth with its blend of spices like cloves, cinnamon, and cardamom, sambar powder introduces a vibrant mix of coriander seeds, dried red chillies, fenugreek, and turmeric. This unique combination imparts a rich, tangy, and slightly spicy flavour, perfect for stews, soups, and even as a seasoning for roasted vegetables.


By blending spices like cinnamon, saunf clove jeera, coriander and elaichi at home, you can tailor the mix to your taste preferences and dietary requirements. Such a mix and match of common spices can easily give you the spice flavour that you require. Even though the aroma might not be the same and differ in many ways, it can add the Asian twist you want to give to your dishes with traditional spices.

Allspice and Cumin

Allspice and cumin can serve as an effective alternative to garam masala, providing a similar depth and warmth to dishes. Allspice, with its blend of cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg flavours, mimics the complexity of garam masala. Cumin adds an earthy, slightly smoky note, enhancing the overall taste. This combination works well in curries, stews, and marinades, offering a balanced and aromatic profile.

Homemade Masala

Homemade Masala serves as a vibrant alternative to traditional Garam Masala, offering a fresh and personalized blend of spices. By combining roasted and ground spices like cumin, coriander, fennel, black pepper, and cinnamon, you create a unique mix tailored to your palate. This homemade version ensures no preservatives, allowing for a purer, more intense flavour.