You can buy it, but it’s easy and inexpensive to make your own.  All you need is:

  • 4 parts cinnamon
  • 2 parts ginger
  • 1 part ground cloves or allspice
  • 1 part nutmeg

I like to use allspice and then throw in an extra pinch of cloves.  Mix all spices together, and store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.  Ta-da!


Garam Masala is a wonderfully spicy addition to curry dishes.  It is often added near the end of cooking, and even sprinkled on a finished dish. Like all masalas, there are as many versions of garam masala as there are dishes in which to use it.  You can buy it, but why not make your own the way you like it?  I like mine with less coriander than many, and no fennel or fenugreek.

Toast each of the spices, then cool, before combining them together.  Raw spices just don’t have the same oomph to them.  Some spices are significantly transformed by the cooking process.  Take the time; it’s worth  it!


  • 4 parts black pepper
  • 2 parts cloves
  • 4 parts cinnamon
  • 3 parts black cardamom
  • 2 parts cumin seeds
  • 2 parts bay leaves
  • 1 part coriander seeds

When cool, grind together with spice grinder or mortar and pestle.  Keep in an airtight container in a cool, dry place out of sunlight.

In the US, we’ve come to think of a thick, sweet tea drink with spices as “chai.”   But “masala” is what actually distinguishes “masala chai,” tea with spices, from plain tea.  “Chai masala”  refers to the powdered spice mix used, and you can put a pinch of it in a cup of tea for a quick alternative to cooking lots of masala chai in a pot on the stove.  Like all masalas, most people have their own version of it.  This is how I like my chai masala, without any anise or other licorice-y flavors, and a small hit of pepper.

You’ll need:

  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper

Mix well and store in a cool, dry place away from sunlight, in an airtight container.  Add a pinch to a cup of brewed black tea, and add milk and sweetener.