An Authentic Pakistani Garam Masala Spice Blend

Today, Sumayya shares her mother’s special Pakistani garam masala spice blend recipe,which you can grind yourself in a spice blender at home. It’s the prefect warming combination of spices, including green cardamom, black cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, black pepper and bay leaf – guaranteed to bring a beautiful layer of flavour to your cooking. I’m looking forward to trying some sprinkled over some grilled halloumi, as Sumayya suggests.

I hope you enjoy this special guest recipe on Ren Behan Food. We’d love to hear your comments in the box below. 

If you ask a Pakistani cook to share their recipe for garam masala, they will probably tell you it’s a guarded family secret. As an authentic blend, it is quite surprising that there is no one recipe for garam masala, most families have their own combinations and proportions of spices, and indeed it can incorporate from as little as three to a dozen or more ingredients. And while these blends can vary greatly in composition, in most you will some or even all of these classic spices; black cardamom, green cardamom, cinnamon, cumin, black peppercorns and cloves.

Garam Masala Spices

Garam masala translates to ‘hot spice blend’ but it is more a mix of warm spices and their constitution is based on the South Asian philosophy of ‘warming’ the body, mind and soul. They bring flavour to a dish without burning the palate and a key element to balancing its effect is to always season your dish perfectly to bring the spices to life.

Garam Masala Spice Blend

In Pakistan, where garam masala is used in most recipes for rice, meat, vegetables and poultry. It is included at different stages of cooking as we build layers of flavour and how we use it depends on the key ingredient of the dish. For meats, rice, and poultry; ‘khara garam masala’ (whole garam masala blends), are traditional and added to hot oil to infuse the aromatics into the oil. Ground garam masala are versatile and can be added during cooking, and even at the end as a garnish; reviving, enhancing and preserving the flavour of the spices and other ingredients in the dish. I personally love to top lentils, rice and finish curries with my blend!

Garam Masala Lentils

It is the evocative aroma of freshly ground garam masala that always transports me back to my mother’s kitchen in Pakistan. Be it the haunting aroma of biryani infused with star anise and cinnamon or the hot ghee tempering of cumin seeds poured with a sizzle over lentils. This authentic blend alone can help achieve a true South Asian flavour to your food.

Garam Masala Spice Blend

Garam Masala Spices

An Authentic Pakistani Garam Masala Spice Blend

Sumayya Usmani
An authentic Pakistani recipe for a grind-at-home garam masala spice blend
5 from 1 vote
Course Spice Blend
Cuisine Pakistani


  • 5 green cardamoms
  • 2 black cardamoms
  • 1 four-inch stick of cinnamon
  • 7-10 cloves
  • 7-10 black peppercorn reduce if you don’t like too much heat
  • 2-3 bay leaves


  • Break down the cinnamon and add with all the spices into a spice grinder and blend until fine.
  • Store in a airtight glass jar, store in a cool dry place away from other conflicting aromas. Consume with 4-6 weeks, for freshness sake


You can also dry roast the spices lightly before grinder but this isn’t necessary. Don’t restrict its use in just curries, experiment with it add it to grilled halloumi, mix in yoghurt with ginger and garlic to make a simple marinade for barbecued chicken or put a pinch in chocolate truffles!

Sumayya Usmani is the author of a forthcoming book on Pakistani cuisine called Summers Under the Tamarind Tree, to be published Spring 2016.

Photos by Ren Behan, words and recipe by Sumayya Usmani.

This recipe first appeared on My Tamarind Kitchen 


Similar Posts


  1. saeedeh khodaee says:

    Dear sale manager,
    we are the big trade company and big Food distribution in iran.we want to import all kind of spices from your country.
    we are seeking the big factory that we can cooperate with them.
    if your factory desire to do business with us and iran country plz reply us ASAP.
    we need to know which spices you have?
    send us ur complete price list and all contion.

    we are waiting your reply .


  2. I do see garam masala but have not known the way it is prepared …. i appreciate your teachings … will try to make mine soonest following those steps. Glad to see your post again.

  3. I always admire the dedication to make spice blends from whole spices, even if I don’t rely on ready made blends, I do rely on pre-ground spices. I’m sure the results from grinding your own are much better!

  4. Lovely. Now if Sumayya would just pop round and make me something with this spice mix! Adore Pakistani food – lucky enough to be able to find some really good restaurants here in Dubai so don’t usually make it at home. However….

  5. This sounds like a really authentic and heavenly gram masala mix. I tried black cardamom recently and loved it. Your photos add such drama to this recipe, I want to reach in and smell it now!

  6. I’ve seen recipes for garam masala before, but I love that this one is truly authentic! I can almost smell it through the screen 🙂

  7. 5 stars
    What a treat to get an authentic recipe like this Ren! Beautiful photographs too 🙂 I’d love to roast up some sweet potatoes with a scattering of garam masala… yum!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating