Punjabi Garam Masala

Garam masala is a mix of aromatic spices used as a finishing spice in many South Asian dishes. The mix of spices used in a garam masala varies from region to region across the subcontinent – this is my Punjabi garam masala mix. It’s made by toasting and grinding a variety of whole aromatic spices. In my opinion, if you aren’t going to grind your own fresh spices, there’s no point in making garam masala at home, you may as well buy a store bought version then.

What’s in Punjabi Garam Masala?

  • coriander / dhaniya
  • cumin / jeera
  • black cardamom / moti elaichi
  • long black pepper / maghan
  • black pepper / kali mirch
  • cinnamon / dalchini
  • cardamom / elaichi
  • cloves / laung
  • star anise / chakri phul
  • mace / javitri
  • bay leave / tej patta
  • nutmeg / jaiphal
  • rose petals / gulab de patte

Remember, you’ll need all these spices in their whole form. They should be easily available at your local Indian or Pakistani grocer. If you are missing one or two, you can still make garam masala and adjust it the next time you make a batch!

Tips for Making Garam Masala

Start with good quality whole spices, and only make a small batch to start. You want to make your garam masala fresh every couple of months. If you have leftover whole spices, store them in zip seal bags inside an airtight container to keep them fresh between batches.

Keep your prepared masala in an airtight container in a cool dark place. I don’t suggest keeping garam masala in your masala dabba. It’s such a sensitive and aromatic spice mix that you want to keep it separated from the others so it doesn’t pick up their scents and lose it’s own aroma.

Don’t over toast the spices! It’s tempting to keep going until the spices have a lot of colour to them, but remember, they are going to be heated up again in the spice grinder and then again when they are added to hot dishes as you cook. Keep the heat low and follow the toasting times listed in the recipe.

Notes about my Garam Masala Recipe

Every family has their own recipe for garam masala, and this is my family’s recipe. I like to keep my Punjabi garam masala on the aromatic side, and I don’t add red chili. In my opinion chili should be added in the turka or tari of a Punjabi dish and the garam masala should be for finishing with aroma and warming spices – not heat. If you prefer something spicy, feel free to add whole red chilis to the mix.

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Punjabi Garam Masala


A classic Punjabi garam masala, perfect for finishing off your homestyle dal, sabji, and meat dishes.



1/2 cup coriander seeds / dhaniya

1/4 cup cumin seeds / jeera

3 large black cardamom pods / moti elaichi

1 tbsp long black pepper / maghan

2 tbsp black peppercorns / kali mirch

3 cinnamon sticks / dalchini – (approximately 4″ long)

2 tbsp cardamom / elaichi

1 tbsp cloves / laung

2 star anise pods/ chakri phul

1 tbsp mace pieces / javitri – approximately 1 large mace flower, lightly crushed

3 large bay leaves / tej patta

1 whole nutmeg pod / jaiphal

2 tbsp rose petals / gulab de patte

*This recipe makes about 3/4 cup of ground garam masala. Feel free to double the recipe for a larger batch. 


1. Start by measuring out all the spices needed

2. Toast the coriander seeds and cumin seeds for 90 seconds on medium heat in a heavy bottom pan. Stir frequently. Spread the toasted seeds on a tray or plate to cool down.

3. Turn the heat down to low to medium on the pan, add in the black cardamom, long black pepper, whole black peppercorns, and cinnamon. Toast for 90 seconds, stirring frequently. Add the toasted spices to the cooling plate.

4. Bring the heat back to medium and toast the cardamom, cloves, star anise, mace, and bay leaves for 60 seconds. We toast these on a slightly higher heat for a shorter period of time to push out all the fragrant essential oils. This is the layer of aromatics that perfume the Punjabi garam masala. Once toasted lay out to cool.

5. Toast the nutmeg on low to medium heat for 90 seconds and then add to the cooling pile.

6. Toast rose petals on low heat for 90 seconds. Depending on the quality of the petals you may have to toast them for an extra 30 seconds to release the scent of the rose petals. Keep toasting and stirring until you can really smell the rose scent. Finally add them to the spice pile to cool.

7. Once your spices have been cooling for 15-20 minutes and are completely cool to the touch grind them in small batches. Don’t let the spice grinder heat up too much.

8. Once you are done grinding the Punjabi garam masala, store it in an airtight container in a cool dark place.


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