Living On Food

Bengali Garam Masala


So, awhile ago I'd decided to stop buying garam masala pre-blended and ground, and instead make my own. I'd made a couple of small batches of a fairly simple garam masala, but this time I wanted to make a more complex blend.

I went with the "Bengali-Style" version from The Art of Indian Vegetarian Cooking, by Yamuna Devi. This is my current favorite Indian cook book. She has 8 different garam masala recipes.

My immediate need was for a lamb curry.


Dry-roast everything but the ground ginger together in a skillet on low heat, stirring occasionally. The spices should darken and there should be a nice aroma, but you should stop before anything turns black or starts smoking heavily. It takes about 15 minutes.

Transfer the spices to a plate to cool.

Once cooled, break up the chili pods, the cinnamon, and the bay leaves into small bits. Break open the caradamon pods and discard the husks. Then grind the mix in small batches, sieve to remove any unground bits, and then blend with the ground ginger.

Store mix in a jar until used.


Garam masala is generally added towards the end of cooking, sometimes mixed in just prior to serving.

I didn't have enough coriander, so I just used what I had.

Next time, if I make this style again, I'm going to do a half-batch. That would be much more reasonable amount for our usage level.

It grinds really readily, as it's much softer than untoasted spices.

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