By Carl Hanson

With a garam masala spice blend on hand, these nine tantalizing Indian dishes are yours!

What is garam masala?

Garam masala is a fragrant blend of ground spices that comes in countless variations. This basic garam masala recipe combines cumin, coriander, cardamom, black pepper, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. Compare it with Kashmiri garam masala, a dry-roasted spice blend that includes those seven spices plus bay leaves, fennel seed, and mace; or tandoori masala, which includes the seven plus garlic powder, ginger, fenugreek, and mace.

One benefit of mixing up a batch of garam masala at home is that you control the blend -- so if you're not keen on cloves or cardamom, you can cut back, creating your own unique expression. Of course, you'll also find garam masala blends in the spice section of your grocery store.

Some recipes below call for garam marsala plus other spices, like cayenne pepper or chili powder, or they highlight a bit more of a specific spice or two that's also featured in the blend.

Amazing Indian Recipes to Make with Garam Masala

With just this one simple spice mix, you can make these thrilling Indian dishes.

1. Chef John's Tandoori Chicken

This is an easy variation on the Indian classic. Prep time is just 5 minutes, and cook time (after a 2-hour marination) is about 15 minutes on the grill. Watch Chef John make it!

Chef John's Tandoori Chicken | Photo by Allrecipes Magazine

2. Chef John's Chicken Tikka Masala

This version calls for coconut milk instead of cream. Chef John calls it an "American version of a British version of an Indian curry." Though its true origin is up for debate, there's no arguing chicken tikka masala's worldwide popularity.

3. Alicia's Aloo Gobi

"Hands down the easiest and most delicious curry I have ever made," says Alicia, the recipe submitter. "It's my own personal twist on Aloo Gobi, a traditionally dry Indian dish consisting of potatoes and cauliflower. The coconut milk adds extra sauciness. Serve with basmati rice or, better, with breads such as roti, naan, or pita."

 Alicia's Aloo Gobi | Photo by SumeragiSakura

4. Chicken Biriyani

A fragrant basmati rice dish featuring chicken simmered in a spicy sauce of yogurt, vinegar, tomatoes, ginger paste, and spices galore.

Chicken Biriyani | Photo by Meredith

5. Indian Dahl with Spinach

The sweetness of a little coconut milk plays perfectly with the spices in this easy red lentil and spinach dahl. Garam masala gets a kick from turmeric, chili powder, and mustard seeds.

Indian Dahl with Spinach | Photo by SUEDEHEAD

6. Kima

You'll also find the name of this ground beef curry spelled Keema and Khema. Pro Tip: Use this spicy meat mixture as a stuffing for samosas.

Kima | Photo by Jenny Aleman

7. Veg Biryani

Here's a vegetarian version of biryani with fresh green beans, potatoes, and carrots.

Veg Biryani | Photo by Meredith

8. Indian Butter Chicken (Makhani Chicken)

Don't let the name fool you, there are only 3 tablespoons of butter used in this recipe -- one for the sauce and two for baking the marinated chicken. Yogurt, tomato puree, garlic, cream, spices, and a touch of honey give this recipe many levels of tongue-titillating flavor.

Makhani Chicken (Indian Butter Chicken) | Photo by foxy_girl04

9. Vegetarian Matar Paneer

Here's a classic vegetarian Indian dish with paneer cheese, peas, and tomatoes, with garam masala and other Indian spices. "Yum!" raves Melanie Lacaille. "One of my kids' favorite Indian dishes that goes well served with rice or naan bread."

Photo by Melanie

Check out our collection of Indian Recipes.


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