Feb 11, 2019

Julie Sahni's Garam Masala

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Julie Sahni's recipe for garam masala, the quintessential Indian spice mix. This classic version has just the right balance of flavors.

This recipe is from Julie Sahni's book Indian Regional Classics: Fast, Fresh, and Healthy Home Cooking (2001). Julie Sahni is the proprietor of Julie Sahni's Indian Cooking School, established 1973 in NYC, which garnered the International Association of Cooking Professionals (IACP) 1998 Award of Excellence nomination, setting it apart as one of the top cooking schools in the country. Ms. Sahni is the author of several seminal, award-winning Indian cookbooks and has appeared on all major TV networks and hosted episodes for “Chef du Jour” and guest-hosted “Cooking Live” on the TV Food Network. Julie Sahni’s Gourmet Tours, Inc. has been offering annual cultural and gastronomic tours to India since 1987.

Julie Sahni at a book signing in New York City
This is definitely a classic recipe for garam masala in both ingredients and proportions. You have the option of making it a bit posh with saffron if you wish also. The recipe calls for nutmeg but you can substitute allspice to make it halal if you prefer. I do not dry roast my garam masala as I use it during cooking. Dry roasted spices also tend to not store well and develop an 'off' flavor if not used quickly. I've included two simple techniques to dry roast spices if you wish to do so though. Off to the recipe:

2 TBS cumin/jeera seeds
2 TBS coriander/dhania seeds
2 TBS green cardamom/elaichi seeds
2 TBS black peppercorns/kali mirch
3-inch stick cinnamon or cassia bark, broken up
1 tsp whole cloves/laung
1 tsp grated nutmeg/jaiphal or allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground saffron (optional)
Makes about 1/2 cup

Here's what to do:

For raw/unroasted garam masala- Coarsely grind all spices until roughly the texture of coffee grounds. Garam masala is not supposed to finely ground like the powdery stuff you see sold at stores. To get the traditional 'coffee grounds' texture we're looking for use the 'pulse' button on your mixie, food processor, or coffee grinder until you get the desired results. Breaking the cassia bark (or cinnamon sticks) into smaller pieces before grinding helps also. Store in an airtight container out of sunlight.

Two methods to dry roast garam masala-
1) Heat a heavy bottomed frying pan or tawa for 7-10 minutes.
2) Dry roast spices one at a time in batches, or toss all spices in & stir frequently until spices give off a fragrant aroma. Do not dry roast saffron, nutmeg or allspice.
3) Allow to cool completely. Grind coarsely (including saffron, nutmeg, or allspice) using pulse button in a mixie, food processor, or coffee grinder.  Store in an airtight container out of sunlight.

Fast & easy oven method-
1) Preheat oven to 220F/100C.
2) Spread all spices (except saffron, nutmeg or allspice) over 13-inch by 9-inch baking pan or cookie sheet. Bake spices for 10 minutes.
3) Allow to cool completely & grind coarsely (including saffron, nutmeg, or allspice) using pulse button in a mixie, food processor, or coffee grinder.  Store in an airtight container out of sunlight.

A Happy Valentine's Day to all who celebrate it!
How's this crazy late winter weather treating you?
It actually snowed in the hills around Kathmandu on Saturday:


  1. ha - you got snow!
    actually - its the middle of winter now - it will not end before the end of march - at least in our region of europa :-D
    the garam masala sounds yummy and easy to make if one gets the spices.... next time i´m in a bigger city i will have a look out!
    stay warm!

  2. Wow - snow. proper snow!

    No, I don't celebrate Valentine's Day but luckily my OH does! Strangely, when we first met I celebrated it and he didn't...now the roles have reversed.

    It was lovely to see the Hindi (?) names for spices again. This was how I was taught them when I was shown how to cook curries by Malaysian and Mauritian Indian colleagues when I was a student nurse.

    The garam masala sounds delcious.

  3. Did you play in the snow?
    That's good to know about nutmeg-obviously makes sense thinking about it, but I wouldn't have thought about it.

    I love Julie Sahnis grain cookbook.

  4. Happy basant panchami to u and family. May the goddess of knowledge bless you

    The garam masala sounds fanrastic, i can almost smell it. The weather has been crazy in delhi, the chill doesn't want to go away even in febuary. We can also boast of snowfall in delhi. Last week a strong hailstrom hit delhi and neighbouring area. Small pieces of snow ice covered everything to give it a kashmir like appearance.

    Valentine day always left us scraching our head in our childhood. It was a very new thing. We learnt that you have to buy a soft toy/flowers/card from a card shop to express your love. I once, out of curiousity, went into a shop to find out what it is all about but quickly came out seeing the prices. Rs.40/- for a heart shaped keychain!! Insane. Though if is definetely fun or those who are in love. Blessed are the ones who have fallen in love. Happy valentine day to you abd yours

  5. I love your garam masala recipe - I need to get back in the kitchen!
    We were reading about the snow in the Indian papers, it's been really heavy in Kashmir, too hasn't it? It feels like Spring here in the UK - thank goodness - although it's blinking freezing compared to Goa! xxx


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