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I love Indian food and have been experimenting with curry recipes, and many of them ask for 'garam masala'. I know it's a spice mix but I can't find it for sale anywhere around me. I've also read that the mix varies from region to region so I'm not even sure what I would order if I wanted to get it online.

I prefer yellow/sweet curries and Indian food (like korma), can anyone recommend a spice blend that is similar, or should I break down and order it on the internet?

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McCormic makes one that I've managed to pick up at local supermarkets. Check the spice sections closely. Also check around for international markets. Wikipedia gives details of which spices are used, as do numerous recipe sites. –  derobert Sep 21 '11 at 21:33
    
Thanks! I'll check that out today. –  morgueanna Sep 21 '11 at 21:44
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Agreed on derobert's suggestion of international markets. As for what recipe/blend to use, a lot of the variation is regional, so figure out what area the you like is from, and search for 'region garam masala recipe' –  Joe Sep 22 '11 at 0:57
    
As an aside, garam masala is not used in most Korma recipes I know. In general, garam masala is a "accent spice mix", added at the end of cooking for a little zing, but is not the major spice mix for most curries. The only exception to this I can think of are some cauliflower dishes. –  FuzzyChef Sep 22 '11 at 4:49
    
Often, even if your regular grocery store has the indian seasoning mixes, they will be in a different aisle with ethnic foods rather than in the main spice display. Indian or other international grocers are also a great place to find such mixes. –  Jessica Brown Sep 27 '11 at 20:07

3 Answers 3

The main constituents of Garam Marsala are cumin, coriander, black pepper, white pepper, chili pepper, paprika, turmeric, capsicum and mustard; roughly in that order. There is no single correct mix. Rather, try making up your own blend. You can always adjust it in the cooking pot by adding more cumin, more chili or something else. As you get more proficient at your curries, you'll build up a idea of how these spices work together and be able to adjust your blend to suit. It really will be a matter of trial and error for a while till you get a mix that works for you.

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When searching for such things I always have had good luck with Amazon.com. 1500 + results for Garam Marsala in a wondrous variety of brands and quantities.

If there is a particular blend (from an Indian Restaurant) that you favor it never hurts to ask for their recipe (or brand recommendation).

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Garam masala is a catch-all term for an Indian spice blend. It has no fixed recipe but is likely to contain a combination of cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, bay, black pepper, star anise, dried chillies, coriander, cumin and maybe more or less. Blends vary according to family tradition and region. Spices are then dried out and possibly roasted, before being ground to dust.

The downside is that if you find garam masala hard to find you may well find the components equally tricky to source. In the UK we are spoiled by a wealth of Indian grocers who stock these ingredients in reasonably-priced quantities. These spices are also readily available in any supermarket due to our historic connection to India.

For a starting point that aims towards the curries that you have specified, I would combine 20g cloves, 50g cardamom seeds, 100g cinnamon sticks, 5 bay leaves, 75g black peppercorns, 100g coriander seeds and 100g cumin seeds. Some toast the seeds in a dry pan but to avoid scorching and to squeeze out all the moisture I use the Heston Blumenthal technique: dry-roast the spices in a very low oven (100C / 212F) for an hour and leave to cool. Blitz to powder in a coffee or spice grinder. I would recommend storing for up to 6 months in an airtight jar to preserve its punch.

Remember this is only a starting point and can be completely customised according to how you like your curries.

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