Garam masala is a combination of two words: Garam (meaning “hot”), and Masala (meaning “spices”). It is a blend of different spices native to South Asian countries, such as India, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan. The several rich spices of garam masala produce a robust flavor when added to any Indian dish.
Have you been having a tough time locating garam masala in grocery stores? This shopping guide is for you. We would point you to the aisles to check, as well as reliable physical and online stores that carry the product.
What Aisle is Garam Masala Located in Grocery Stores?
Your first stop at the grocery store when looking for garam masala should be the spice/condiment aisle. It would be on the spices rack, shelved alongside other spices like curry, cumin, and cardamom.
If you do not find it there, you should head over to the international section where South Asian products are stocked. If your grocery store has a bulk section, you might also be able to get garam masala there, in customizable quantities.
What Are the Constituents Of Garam Masala?
Garam masala is not a single spice, but a blend of many. The ingredient doesn’t taste the same everywhere, and this is because the constituents vary regionally across different parts of South Asia. The blend of spices could also vary from family to family, or individual to individual, depending on who makes it.
While some chefs may prefer a milder and sweeter flavor, others might prefer a more spicy mixture. Although the constituents of the spice could vary, the standard Indian version contains the following ingredients:
- Bay Leaves
- Coriander Seeds
- Black and White Peppercorns
- Red Chili Powder
- Black and Green Cardamom Pods
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Garam masala could also come in two major forms: powder or paste. The powdered form is mostly found in the United States/Northern part of India and is used in the same way other dry spices are used.
The paste version, on the other hand, is made by mixing the powdered spice blend with water, vinegar, or coconut milk. It’s mostly found and used in the southern parts of India.
Where to Buy Garam Masala Near Me
If you can’t seem to find garam masala anywhere, the stores listed below are known to carry the product:
Amazon is an online store where you can shop for a wide variety of garam masala brands, such as Rani, amongst others. It’s one of the best platforms to get pantry items that are hard to find. You can go through several sellers’ inventories for garam masala at different prices.
Walmart also sells a variety of garam masala brands, such as Badia, McCormick, and Morton & Bassett. You can use the online store locator on their website to confirm availability before pick up.
3. Whole Foods
You can pick up garam masala from the foods’ spice section or bulk aisle at Whole Foods. It’s usually next to other spices like curry, cinnamon, and other Asian spices.
Safeway is another great place to shop for garam masala both online and in-store. They have brands such as Spicely, Simply Balanced, and McCormick.
At Target, you can check the spices/condiment aisle for brands of garam masala like Swad and Simply Balanced.
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You will get a wide selection of garam masala brands to choose from at Publix.
At the spice aisle of Kroger, you can get garam masala brands such as Frontier, Private Selection, Kohinoor, and McCormick.
8. Indian Markets
If you happen to stop by any Indian ethnic market in your city, you will definitely get garam masala there.
9. Local Health Food Stores
Health food stores always have tons of bulk spices in stock, including garam masala.
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Substitutes for Garam Masala
With so many variations of garam masala, you may wonder what alternatives you can include in your traditional dish. The amazing thing about garam masala is that because it is a mixture of so many spices, you can always make a similar alternative with one or two of its standard ingredients in your spice cupboard.
You can customize your substitute however you like, by focusing on the flavors you enjoy and leaving out the ones that you don’t. If you don’t want a spicy element, you can leave out dry chili. If you do not like the taste of cumin, you can leave that out as well.
Some of the best spice options you can use in place of garam masala include
- Curry Powder
- Cumin, Coriander, and Cardamom blend
- Allspice and Cumin blend
- Pumpkin Spice Blend
- Chaat Masala
- Sambar Masala
How to Store Garam Masala
Garam masala is best stored in a cool, dry place, free from any form of moisture. If your garam masala comes packaged in a sealed, plastic bag, you can leave it in the bag until after your first use, upon which it should be transferred to an airtight container.
If you bought your gram masala in the bulk unit section of a grocery store, it should likewise be transferred into an airtight container. A glass container is best to conserve its flavor. Be careful not to store your garam masala in cupboards above a source of heat.
This is to prevent the moisture of the generated steam from seeping into the spice and diluting its flavor. If you must refrigerate your garam masala, ensure you vacuum seal the container to prevent the acquisition of moisture.
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Having worked in a grocery store in the past, I thought it wise to pen down a few things that you might be interested to know about shopping and navigating your way around the store.