Spicy Garam Masala

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Add some flair to this Indian finishing spice…

Garam masala is typically known as a warming finishing spice, but here we turn that pungent warmth into more of a roaring fire. You can control that heat by choosing a dried red chili pepper that works best for your heat tolerance. Go mild for a simmering warmth or light things up with something extra hot. We offer some ideas below, but consider the pepper’s flavor nuances before use as they will have impact on the overall garam masala flavor.

Note, too, that garam masala is a finishing spice, perfect for spicing up the flavor of Indian dishes right before serving. It’s best not to cook with garam masala – rather use it at the end. Cooking with it tends to turn the seasoning mix bitter in flavor. 

Spicy Garam Masala

Spicy Garam Masala

5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes


  • 3 dried red chili peppers seeds removed*
  • 2 cinnamon sticks 3 inches long
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cumin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 1/2 tablespoon green cardamom seeds
  • 1/2 tablespoon black cardamom seeds
  • 1/2 tablespoon cloves
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg


  • In a non-stick pan, toast all ingredients separately, except the nutmeg. Each should be toasted for approximately 60 seconds, or until fragrant.
  • Using a mortar and pestle (or spice grinder), grind the toasted spices into a fine powder.
  • Add the nutmeg and stir to combine all the spices.
  • Use immediately, or seal in a jar for future use.


*You can use various dried red chili peppers, based on your heat preference. There are multiple options available, but some options include dried guajillo (mild), dried chile de arbol (medium), or dried TienTsin peppers (extra-hot).
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UPDATE NOTICE: This post was updated on August 17, 2019 to include new content.
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