5 Garam Masala Substitutes with Similar Flavor

Many garam masala substitutes are pantry staples such as curry powder, cumin, and allspice.

You may use anything you like, whether it’s what you have on hand or what you’re more likely to cook with in the future.

What is Garam Masala Made Of?

Garam masala is a South Asian spice blend that is often used in Indian, Bangladeshi, and Pakistani meals. It has earthy undertones and is rich, warming, and fragrant.

It often includes roasted coriander, cumin, cassia or cinnamon, and cardamom. Garam masala, on the other hand, varies widely by location, and many families have their own distinctive mixtures.

Garam masala is available at various grocery shops, although it is not always simple to find. And, if you don’t cook using garam masala on a regular basis, it may not be worth it.

The spices contained begin to decay the moment the bottle is opened. So, unless you intend to utilize your garam masala within the next few months, purchasing a bottle may not be a waste.

Top 5 Garam Masala Replacements

1. Curry Powder

Curry powder is the simplest substitute for garam masala powder, which makes sense considering what curry powder is. Curry powder was invented in Europe by ambitious merchants at the height of British empire.

Rich housewives in the American colonies and the United Kingdom at the period engaged Indian chefs to cater their banquets and soirees. Chutneys, curries, and hearty lentil soups were popular on both sides of the Atlantic.

Housewives who couldn’t afford to employ Indian chefs aspired to make the popular dishes themselves. Unfortunately, they were unfamiliar with Indian spices.

They attempted to reproduce Indian spice mixes and discovered that experimenting was costly. Purchasing the many spices that garam masala or other Indian spice mixtures include was an expensive task, and the results were not always satisfactory.

Spice dealers recognized they could profit more by offering a generic Indian spice combination to the average housewife. It was known as curry powder, and it was an immediate success. Housewives appreciated how they could make complicated Indian delicacies out of one apparently basic item.

Curry powder may still be found on most grocery shelves, and it is still reasonably priced.

Curry powder is often made out of black pepper, cloves, cardamom, nutmeg, and turmeric. With the exception of turmeric, all of the spices may be found in most garam masala mixes.

In most recipes, curry powder works effectively as a straight substitute for garam masala.

Turmeric, on the other hand, has a vivid yellow-orange color. That instance, if you use curry powder instead of garam masala, your food will appear different. The taste, though, will be same.

You may sacrifice some complexity when using curry powder, but it is by far the simplest option to replace garam masala in a dish.

2. Cumin and Allspice

Cumin and allspice may be used to make another simple garam masala substitute. Cumin is a dried seed from the same plant family as parsley. It is widely used in Middle Eastern, Latin American, and Indian cuisines.

Cumin has a toasty, earthy flavor with a tinge of sweetness. It replicates the warmth found in several garam masala spices.

Allspice is a dried fruit from the myrtle family of plants. It may be found in a variety of cuisines, including Middle Eastern, Caribbean, and American foods. Allspice adds clove, cinnamon, and nutmeg tastes, which imitate the warmth of garam masala.

Cumin and allspice are popular spices in the United States. Cumin is often used in southwestern American dishes, while allspice is vital in many American cookery.

If you have a well-stocked spice cupboard, you undoubtedly have both on hand. If not, they are readily available at most supermarket shops.

It’s easier to use cumin and allspice instead of garam masala. They’ll also save you from buying a new spice that you may only use once. You’ll probably run out of cumin and allspice rather fast, particularly if you prepare a lot of traditional American fare.

To produce an equal combination of cumin and allspice for garam masala, combine one part cumin and one part allspice.

For example, if a recipe asks for 1/4 cup garam masala, add one tablespoon allspice and three teaspoons cumin.

You won’t achieve the same level of complexity as garam masala, but you’ll get closer than you would with just curry powder.

3. Coriander, Cumin, and Common Warming Spices

With a little extra time and a few additional spices, you can create your own garam masala.

This preparation, however, will lack some of the more traditional but difficult-to-find spices, such as mace or cassia. However, you may obtain extremely close to true garam masala with common spices.

Most garam masala recipes start with coriander, cumin, and black peppercorns. Fortunately, all three of those spices can be found at practically any grocery shop. They’re also adaptable staples that almost every home chef has on hand.

The remaining ingredients in this almost-garam-masala-mix are cardamom, cloves, cinnamon (sticks or powdered), and nutmeg. Cinnamon is related to cassia and will provide a similar spice and warmth. The nutmeg fruit contains both nutmeg and mace. However, nutmeg is more widely available in the United States than mace.

Use the following spices to make a garam masala substitute:

1 part coriander

1/2 part cumin & black peppercorns

4 parts cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg

Ideally, use roasted spices or toast your own before combining. Toasting spices is simple, but you must start with whole spices rather than ground spices.

Toast them in a dry pan over medium heat, turning often, until they emit their rich aroma. Then, using a spice grinder, grind them together.

You may change the spice ratio to suit your preferences. If you want to use garam masala often, you may create a large amount of this combination. Then, use it as a 1:1 substitute for garam masala.

4. Chaat Masala

Chaat masala is another famous Indian spice blend that may be used for garam masala in any dish. Chaat masala has the same warming heat as garam masala but with a bit more sourness and umami tastes.

Chaat masala contains black salt, which isn’t really black. It’s really a pink-brown salt from the Himalayas.

Chaat masala contains black salt, which provides umami qualities that garam masala lacks. Fennel and green mango powder offer a nuanced sourness that garam masala lacks.

For these reasons, you should taste chaat masala before using it as a replacement. If you enjoy chaat masala, start with half the amount recommended for in the recipe. Then, taste and adjust as needed.

The advantage of using chaat masala rather than garam masala is that it may be used in a range of different Indian cuisines. If you prefer Indian dals or chaats or love creating Indian cocktails, you should have Chaat masala on hand.

5. Ras el Hanout

Ras el hanout is a North African spice blend that, like garam masala, provides warmth and spiciness to any meal. Cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, cumin, nutmeg, and coriander are among its primary ingredients. If you didn’t notice, that list is extremely similar to what’s in most garam masalas.

Ras el hanout is a popular spice in traditional North African cuisine, and if you love creating tagines or couscous, it’s a fantastic spice to have on hand. It’s also delicious with roasted chickpeas and lentil stews.

Unfortunately, ras el hanout is not always readily available. You may have to purchase it online, similar to garam masala. Alternatively, at certain supermarket shops, it may be branded Moroccan Spice. Alternatively, seek for it at specialist spice stores.

When replacing garam masala with ras el hanout, take in mind that ras el hanout is hotter. It tastes like garam masala with a dash of cayenne pepper.

Instead of straight replacement, you should probably start with a modest quantity of Ras el Hanout and gradually increase.

Final Thoughts

To replicate the warmth of garam masala, try something as basic as curry powder. Alternatively, you may spend some time making your own distinctive garam masala mix with lots of coriander, cumin, and other warming spices.

Alternatively, look for something like ras el hanout. It’s not as common in supermarkets, but it’s a delicious combination that you should have if you love cooking North African foods.


What spices are similar to garam masala?

3 Common Garam Masala Substitutes
Curry spice: Use curry powder as a replacement for garam masala in your recipe.
Allspice with cumin: For a quick replacement, combine 4 parts ground cumin with 1 part allspice.
Masala Chaat: As an alternative, try chaat masala.

What is most similar to garam masala?

Cumin and allspice: When you think about it, this two-part mixture makes sense. The taste of allspice is similar to cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and pepper, and when combined with cumin, it makes a very effective garam masala replacement. Simply combine 1 part cumin and 14 parts allspice.

Can you substitute 5 spice for garam masala?

Is Garam Masala the same as Chinese five-spice powder? No, garam masala and Chinese 5-spice are not the same thing. Although they have a similar taste, these spice mixes are utilized in distinct cuisines. They both include fennel, cinnamon, and cloves, but the rest of the components vary.

Can I skip garam masala?

If you run out of garam masala, you may create your own by combining cinnamon, cardamom, pepper, coriander, cumin, mace, and bay leaves, or you can use one of the substitutes listed above for a comparable warming taste.

What is the essential ingredient garam masala?

Garam Masala is an essential ingredient.

Our Garam Masala spice mix, perhaps the most essential ingredient in Indian cookery, is very fragrant, blending coriander seeds, cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and other spices.

What Flavour is garam masala?

The word garam masala means “hot or warm spices,” but the tastes aren’t spicy in the traditional sense—garam masala is a warming blend of cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, and peppercorns (among many more!).

What can I use instead of garam masala in curry powder?

Cumin with allspice (RECOMMENDED)

Garam Masala’s taste may be replicated by combining allspice and cumin powder. And I believe this is the finest replacement. These spices may already be in your cupboard.

Is garam masala similar to cumin?

As a Cumin Substitute, use Garam Masala.

Coriander, cardamom, black pepper, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg are also often used, resulting in a rich taste that is earthy, sweet, lemony, and spicy. Because the color is extremely close to that of cumin, it will not drastically alter the look of your dish.

Is garam masala just curry powder?

Garam masala and curry powder are both ground spice blends. They may share certain spices, but they are not the same product. Garam masala does not include turmeric, although curry powder does. This is why curry powder is generally yellow-orange in color rather than the reddish-brown of garam masala.

Is there a substitute for 5 spice powder?


The flavor profile is complex, with hints of cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and pepper. It is the dried berries of the shrub Pimenta dioica. The finest single spice powder equivalent for Chinese five-spice is allspice. Ground allspice may be used in place of five-spice.

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