Best Garam Masala Substitutes – 5 SImilar Spice Blends

Do you need a garam masala alternative? Here we are going to reveal to you simple masala hacks to solve your problem.

Usually, the garam masala spice blend consists of ginger, cumin, cinnamon, coriander, cardamom, cloves, and nutmeg. Its complex and traditional blend can have up to 30 ingredients.

You will find that many South Asian dishes have garam masala as the base ingredient.

Often, ready-to-use garam masala packs from a store may have cheap and low-quality ingredients. Most may not contain nutmeg, cardamom, or other expensive ingredients.

Look for alternatives if you don’t have garam masala in stock or cannot make it yourself.

5 Best Substitutes for Garam Masala

It’s a tough task to make pure quality garam masala. For this purpose, you have to source 20 to 25 ingredients or more. It’s even more difficult to toast and grind them.

To make things worse, most spices lose their freshness and quality within a week after grinding. So it’s worth making fresh garam masala, even though it’s troublesome.

If you have no way to get garam masala, don’t worry. We’ve got a few useful garam masala substitutes.

1. Curry Powder

It is for those who are looking for a quick fix.

Using curry powder with a pinch of a few other ingredients is a good alternative to garam masala.

Curry powder may not give you the same savor and pungency as garam masala (GM). However, it contains many of the warm spices found in GM. Overall, this replacement option works best when preparing an Indian-type dish.

While substituting, use curry powder in a 1:1 measure of garam masala.

Related article: Can I use garam masala to substitute curry powder?

2. Chaat Masala

Chaat masala is a spice powder mix, or masala, originating from the Indian subcontinent. It typically consists of cumin, coriander, ginger, black pepper, asafoetida (hing), dried mango powder (amchoor), and chili powder.

When preparing Indian dishes, the chaat spice mix is a suitable replacement for garam masala.

Chat masala has a mild flavor and is not a warm blend like GM. If required, you can increase the warmth of the chaat spice by adding a little more pepper and chilies.

Chat masala has a blend of sweet, salty, and tart flavors.

In most warm Indian recipes, you can use chaat masala in equal portions with garam masala. Add chaat masala in small quantities until you get the desired flavor.

For a dish of three servings, just two teaspoons of chaat masala are more than enough.

3. Sambar Masala

Sambar, also spelled sambhar, is a mixed vegetable stew cooked with tamarind broth and a spice mixture. It is popular in Sri Lankan and South Indian cuisines.

Spice ingredients used in this Indian spice blend consist of whole spices like coriander seeds, cumin, red chilies, fenugreek seeds, cinnamon, tamarind, asafoetida, and curry leaves.

Sambar masala (similar to Madras curry powder) is a good substitute for garam masala. Most of its ingredients are the same as those in garam masala.

You can use sambar masala in a 1:1 ratio instead of garam masala.

4. Spice Mix Of Cumin And Allspice

Allspice and cumin are easily available cooking ingredients.

There is no doubt that authentic garam masala contains about 30 ingredients in total. For this reason, you may wonder how these two humble ingredients alone can replace the flavor profile of garam masala.

The flavor of allspice brings to mind cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and pepper. It alone gives the flavor of a couple of spices blended.

Ground cumin has a unique flavor with an earthy, nutty, and spicy taste. It has somewhat bitter undertones and a warm and penetrating aroma.

A mixture of allspice and cumin has a similar flavor and aroma to garam masala.

You can substitute this garam masala by mixing 1 part cumin with ¼ part allspice. Add this mixture instead of garam masala to your dishes in small quantities and gradually increase it until you get the desired taste.

5. DIY Garam Masala Recipe

When you find that no replacement for garam masala is available to you, you can make your own garam masala by making a mixture of a few ingredients. It is easy to make your garam masala blend.

The chief ingredients in homemade garam masala are cumin, ground coriander, clove, red chilies/pepper, cinnamon, and cardamom.

By using these ingredients, create a substitute blend of spice mixtures:

  • 3 parts coriander and cinnamon
  • 1 part cumin seeds and cloves
  • ½ part cardamom and pepper

Blend these ingredients in a coffee grinder or kitchen blender.

If you don’t have all these ingredients, use the available ingredients to form the spice blend. You can get a flavorful garam masala substitute with a couple of trials.

Please check out other articles on a substitute for Creole seasoning and a substitute for Cajun seasoning to get more information on alternative spice blends.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use pumpkin pie spice in place of garam masala? 

No, pumpkin spice is not a suitable replacement for garam masala, as they have different spice blends and flavors. Pumpkin spice typically consists of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and allspice. While both blends contain cinnamon, the other spices are different, giving them distinct flavors and aromas.

Can I substitute garam masala for tandoori masala?

Garam and tandoori masala have different flavor profiles. Tandoori spice is a spicier blend that often includes cumin, coriander, and other pungent spices. Using them interchangeably may make your dish taste quite different than using the correct spice blend.

Can I substitute garam masala for tikka masala? 

They have different flavor profiles. Tikka spice powder is a spicy tomato-based sauce that often includes cumin, coriander, paprika, and garam masala. Also, it may include other ingredients like ginger and garlic. Tikka powder has a more complex flavor due to adding tomatoes and other spices. If used in place of garam masala, your dish will have a more complex flavor.

What is a substitute for garam masala in butter chicken? 

Garam masala is a crucial ingredient in butter chicken, but if you don’t have it on hand, make garam masala on your own with the same ingredients. To swap out garam masala, you may use curry powder in butter chicken, though the taste may slightly differ. Lastly, combine cumin, coriander, cinnamon, and cloves—a blend similar to garam masala.

For further reading, check out other articles on a substitute for Creole seasoning and substitute for Cajun seasoning to get more info on alternative spice blends.