Katie's Healthy Bites: Discover Garam Masala

Garam masala is an Indian term meaning “hot spice,” though it isn’t actually a spice itself. It’s a dry spice mixture comprised of up to 12 spices. If you haven't sampled this sweet-spicy blend, here's the scoop on versatile garam masala, and how to incorporate it into your favorite dishes.

All About Garam Masala

Used throughout India and certain parts of Asia, the blend typically depends on the region of origin, taste preferences, and the dish in which it is being used.  Garam masala recipes may include any of the following spices: cinnamon, cloves, cumin, nutmeg, cardamom, dried red chilies, black peppercorns, coriander, ginger powder, bay leaves, mace, fennel, fenugreek seeds and dried garlic.  Brown, tan or golden in color, it lends an aromatic and pungent flavor to foods while adding a warmth and richness that is believed to create a sense of well-being when consumed.

Medicinal Properties

Therapeutic use of garam masala is dependent upon the combination of spices of which it contains.  Cinnamon is known for its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory qualities, while cumin has been associated with antioxidant properties.  Cumin, along with ginger, fennel, and cardamom, may also aid in digestion.

Purchasing, Storage, & Preparation

Various ready-made blends are available for purchase and can be found in Indian and Asian markets or specialty sections of many supermarkets.  For a more pungent aroma and flavor, try blending your own, tweaking the spices according to your preferences:

Culinary Uses

Garam masala can be used in an array of different curries, soups, stews, meats, and vegetable dishes.  This spice packs a good amount of flavor, so a little goes a long way.

Recipes to Try:

Katie Cavuto Boyle, MS, RD, is a registered dietitian, personal chef and owner of HealthyBites, LLC. See Katie's full bio »

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