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1 Simple Spice Mix, 8 Thrilling Indian Dishes

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

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. 

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

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

 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

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

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

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)

Makhani Chicken (Indian Butter Chicken) | Photo by foxy_girl04

Check out our collection of Indian Recipes.


Explore more Garam Masala Recipes.

Here's how to make a 5-course Indian meal, complete with coconut rice, naan, and mango-mint lassi.

Finally, science explains why Indian food is so crazy delicious!


Carl Hanson

About Carl Hanson

Carl will eat that. Share with him @CarlNo9 on Twitter.