Meat Masala (South Indian Garam Masala)


This is a South Indian Garam Masala Recipe also known as Meat Masala. This is the garam masala that's used in Kerala. Recipe by Ashley of

There’s a big difference between South Indian garam masala and North Indian garam masala.

Grinding your own whole spices makes a world of difference when it comes to cooking ethnic foods. This meat masala recipe is perfect for beef recipes. You can also use it with chicken, pork, lamb, and goat. “Meat masala” is also sometimes called “garam masala.” You should know that there is a HUGE difference between North Indian and South Indian garam masala. When you see a recipe, the authors typically don’t clarify WHICH region their recipe is from, so if you don’t know… well, you’re probably not using the right spices.

South Indian meat masala or garam masala comprises cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, fennel, etc. North Indian garam masala includes cumin, coriander, bay leaf, etc. The flavors are very different, and it’s important to use the right blend of spices for each dish. If I’m making a Kerala curry and use North Indian spices – it just won’t taste the way it should.

This is a South Indian Garam Masala Recipe also known as Meat Masala. This is the garam masala that's used in Kerala. Recipe by Ashley of

The recipe below is a Kerala meat masala – the spice mix can vary from home to home. I always keep a jar of this in my spice cabinet as it’s much easier to reach for this jar vs. several individual jars. I definitely recommend that you make this masala if you plan on continuing with South Indian cooking.

You can make this masala raw, or you can dry roast the spices before grinding. Personally, I prefer dry roasting because I think it tastes better. Also, I usually add spices at the very end of a recipe if I think a dish needs more flavor, and I’d rather use warmed spices than raw at that stage of cooking.

If you decide to dry roast, be sure to do it over low heat. You don’t want to burn your spices because they’ll become bitter. You want the whole spices to cook all the way through and not just on the outside. Roast them until fragrant, and then transfer the spices to a plate to cool right away. Don’t leave them on your pan, or they’ll continue to cook. Once you smell that beautiful aroma… they are done. Wait for the spices to cool and grind away!

What to make with meat masala:

This is a South Indian Garam Masala Recipe also known as Meat Masala. This is the garam masala that's used in Kerala. Recipe by Ashley of

Meat Masala (South Indian Garam Masala)

This is a South Indian Garam Masala Recipe also known as Meat Masala. This is the garam masala that's used in Kerala. Recipe by Ashley of

Meat Masala (South Indian Garam Masala)

5 from 6 reviews
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  • Heat a skillet over low heat and dry roast all of the spices for 5-10 minutes or until fragrant. Be sure to stir the spices to toast all sides.
  • Let the spices cool down and then grind them using a spice grinder.
  • Store in an air-tight jar and use within 6-8 months for the most flavor.
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Find out more about my cookbooks Indian Food Under Pressure and South Asian Persuasion.

About Ashley

Hi, I’m Ashley. Thanks for being here! I truly believe that food brings us closer together. Gather around a table with good food and good people, and you’ll have the ingredients you need to create some happy memories. My hope is that you find recipes here that you can’t wait to share with family and friends.


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  1. Dell says

    Thank you for your Garam Masala for Southern recipes. I had been looking for one. Thank you! I look forward to more of your recipes!!

  2. darryl says

    I am in awe of your recipes but I am lost on how roughly chop a nutmeg — or do you have “soft” nutmegs?

  3. Reb says

    Thank you so much for this recipe, I will be trying it tonight with your ground beef coconut curry. Your site is fantastic too! I just found it and am looking forward to trying many recipes.
    Is it possible for you to put up a North Indian Masala recipe? Apologies if there is one already, I just couldn’t locate it.

  4. Kunal says

    Hey Ashley- can you use ground nutmeg in the receipe? And if so , how much ( 1tbl spoon) would work?


  5. Krithika says

    Thanks for sharing this recipe for south indian garam masala ! I would love to try this out in my kerala stew. I unfortunately don’t have a spice grinder. Is there anything in stores that come close to this masala ?

  6. Christine says

    Hi Ashley. I’ve been cooking Indian food for a while by following recipes and tips from various Indian cooks. I’m new to your site and it’s especially good! Thank you for sharing your information and recipes. I’m unable to buy your recommended brand of Garam Masala (north Indian) in Australia. Do you have a recipe for it?
    Thank you, Christine.

  7. Sara says

    5 stars
    I made this to use in the Kerala Beef Curry, and the masala was amazing and the curry was amazing. I had never used curry leaves before and now I understand why there is no substitute for them. Do you have any additional recipes that call for the meat masala? It looks like this post is from 2013 so thinking maybe there are more recipes since then. I have a bunch of it to use and love the flavor!

    • My Heart Beets says

      Hi Sara, thank you for asking this! I just updated the post with a few more recipes that call for meat masala and will continue to update it with new recipes 🙂 I still use this blend often, especially when sharing Keralite recipes!

  8. Sukaneya Moorthy says

    Hi Ashley, excited to try this recipe…if I am using ground nutmeg 8nstead if a whole nutmeg, how much would I use?

  9. Nancy says

    Ashley, I truly enjoy Indian food. I was spoiled with my travels to the UK. I am eager to start cooking. Plan to make as many dishes that are on your website. I am making a list of the spices that I will need to make the meat marsala. I have a couple of questions on a few of the spices. I found a spice store online that has most of the spices. In reading the use of the spices in cooking, there are soft cinnamon sticks and brown mustard seed. These two are recommended for Indian cooking. Any recommendations would be appreciated. Thank you for sharing your recipes and love with us!

  10. Nanda says

    5 stars
    Hi Ashley,
    Made this masala today and used it in the Malabar Goat Pepper Fry recipe (from your book – Indian Food Under Pressure). It was fantastic! I was sneaking bites from the pot before dinner and making good food noises 🙂 I’m not much of a cook but your recipes were well written and easy to follow. Most importantly, the result tasted great!

  11. Pearl says

    Hi Ashley,
    When you mention 3 pieces of cinnamon sticks are they each an inch in length? Also, once the cardamom is roasted do you take the seeds out before grinding it with the other spices?

    • My Heart Beets says

      Hi Pearl! I’d say they are typically about 1.5-2 inches long and as for the cardamom, I grind the whole pod including the shell. I hope that helps and I can’t wait to hear what you think of the meat masala!

  12. nalani says

    Hi Ashley,

    Thanks so much for this recipe. I substituted 1/2 paprika and 1/2 cayenne for Kashmiri curry powder. For me, it was a little too spicy. So, I smoothed it out with some coconut milk. I probably messed up the recipe but it’s smooth and spicy now. LOL.

  13. anjuli says

    I only have ground nutmeg at home. How much would you recommend substituting for the 1 nutmeg used in your recipe? Thanks.

  14. Sura Weiss says

    Thanks for the masala info. I went to my spice shelf to try to figure out which garam masala I have, no ingredient list as I bought it bulk at the local co-op. By smell, I think its southern masala. It’s missing the cumin smell. Thanks for education.

  15. Ingrid Klefbäck says

    I live in Sweden and have been many times in India. Now I’m writing a book about Kerala. One of the chapters about all the wonderful spices available in Kerala. Now I wonder if I may use your photo on the spices Graham Marsal?
    I refer blunted to you.

    Kindly regards
    Ingrid Klefbäck

  16. Al says

    Great website and recipes! Do you toast and grind the whole green cardamom pods or just the seeds inside the pods? I have seen some spice blend recipes where you open the pods and just use the seeds.

    • My Heart Beets says

      Thanks, Al! For this meat masala, I toast and grind the whole green pods. For most recipes though, I do just use the seeds – especially in desserts or smoothies where pieces of the shell/pod would be more visible.

  17. ayelet says

    Hi Ashley-
    I love Indian food, so I was really excited to find your masala! I’m heating the spices right now, so it gives a great fragrance to our house. Thank you for the recipe!

  18. Robert says

    Thanks for sharing this great mix. I tried it in the sweet and spicy pork chops tonight, and the meal was fantastic. We will definitely try some of your other recipes that use it. Please post some more!

    • My Heart Beets says

      Hi Robert, I’m so glad you liked this spice mix as well as the pork chop recipe (one of my favorites). I’ll keep posting recipes that use this spice mix – I actually just added a couple more to the list (ground lamb curry and egg curry). I hope you’ll let me know what you think of any other recipes that you try!

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