Garam masala is a blend of ground spices used extensively in Indian cuisine. The spices for garam masala are usually toasted to bring out more flavor and aroma, and then ground. The word masala simply means “spices,” and garam means “hot.” However, garam masala doesn’t necessarily constitute a particularly spicy blend. The powdered form is typically gluten-free, vegan, and vegetarian, while you will need to check the label for garam masala paste to see what is included.
Varieties of Garam Masala
There is no single garam masala recipe. The ingredients differ according to the region as well as each chef’s individual preferences. Garam masala from Northern India, including the Punjab region, often has only black pepper for a hot element and mostly focuses on aromatic and sweet spices. This garam masala will be quite mild, and any heat in the dish will come from adding hot peppers.
The farther south you go in India, the hotter the garam masala is likely to be as red chiles are likely to be part of the blend. The spices also change, based on what is more common locally.