What is garam masala called in English?

In this brief guide, we will address the query, “What is garam masala called in English?” We will also discuss the different spices used in garam masala and how you can make it at home as well as what other spices can be used as a substitute for garam masala.

What is garam masala called in English?

Garam masala is commonly known as hot spice. It is basically the mixture of all the essential ground spices used in your kitchen. It is called garam masala because the word “garam” literally means hot and “masala” means spice. 

The word hot here doesn’t necessarily mean spicy, garam masala is spicy but not too spicy. So, its English name is also a rather rough translation so it’s easy to remember.

What is Garam Masala?

Garam Masala is a traditional Indian spice that is a blend of different spices like coriander seeds, cumin, cardamom, black peppercorns, nutmeg, bay leaves, cinnamon sticks, etc. These are the most commonly used ingredients while making garam masala. 

It was originally used in India and other southeast Asian countries like Nepal, Srilanka, Bangladesh, and Pakistan for cooking varieties of dishes but today it’s a name that is familiar to all of us throughout the world. 

Basically, garam masala tastes like a complex blend of all of these ingredients used while making it but it also adds a unique taste and aroma to your recipe that none of those spices can give when used individually.

What are the spices used in garam masala?

The different spices used in garam masala are discussed below:

Coriander seeds

The coriander seeds are the main ingredient that forms the base of garam masala. It has a mild aroma and flavor so it also helps to tone down and balance the flavors of other spices, especially the pungent and bitter side.


Cardamoms add a bit of sweetness to your garam masala. Its sweet aroma adds a unique flavor to the spices. You can use the whole pods or just the seeds inside according to your preference.

Black peppercorns

Of course, the king of spices black pepper can’t be missed out. It adds smoky flavors and a pungent taste to the garam masala. 


Nutmeg is a unique spice that adds delicate and sweet flavors and aroma to your garam masala.

Bay leaves

It is also known as “tej patta” which is pungent in nature. It is optional so you may avoid it if you don’t like its strong smell.

Cinnamon sticks

Cinnamon adds a great flavor to your garam masala. Its unique taste and aroma give you perfect flavors when used in a reasonable quantity. Avoid using too many of these to balance your flavors.

How can we make garam masala at home?

If you don’t want to use a store-bought garam masala, you can always easily make it at home. All you need is the ingredients mentioned above.


  • 3-inch cinnamon stick
  • 2 tablespoons black peppercorns
  • 2 tablespoons green cardamom seeds, removed from green pods
  • 3 tablespoons coriander seeds
  • 2 tablespoons cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon ground mace (or grated nutmeg)
  • 1 bay leaf


  • Heat up all of these ingredients in a pan for about 8-10 minutes on medium heat until they are dried and toasted completely.
  • Make sure the spices don’t overheat otherwise it may turn out to be bitter
  • Let it cool for a while.
  • Blend all these spices in a grinder and store them in an airtight container.

What are the substitutes for garam masala?

No garam masala? Don’t worry try these substitutes instead:

Curry powder

Curry powder is the best alternative if you’re short on garam masala. Of course, the taste won’t be exactly the same as garam masala but you’ll get more or less similar flavors and texture. Both of them are used for their unique flavors and colors so you won’t notice much of a difference.

Allspice and cumin

Allspice has a pleasantly warm and fragrant aroma. It combines well with almost every spice. You can combine 4 parts of ground cumin with 1 part of allspice, for an easy replica of garam masala.

Chaat masala

Chaat masala is another popular Indian spice mix that you can substitute for garam masala. It gives a rather tangy flavor compared to garam masala but can bring you the desired flavors if used precisely. For some chaat masala recipes, please follow the link here.

Other FAQs about Spices that you may be interested in.

What flavor is cardamom?

What is cardamom used for?

What is jeera powder in English?

What is coriander powder made of?


In this brief guide, we have addressed the query, “What is garam masala called in English?” We have also discussed the different spices used in garam masala and how you can make it at home as well as what other spices can be used as a substitute for garam masala.