garam masala vs ras el hanout

Garam Masala vs Ras el Hanout: Which One Is Better?

While garam masala is the perfect blend of Indian spices, it left us wondering about what spices are used when it comes to African cuisine. 

In this article, we will explore the similarities and differences between these two unique blends that contain core spices from around the world.

Garam masala vs ras el hanout; which one is better? Let’s find out!

Is Ras El Hanout Like Garam Masala?

Yes, ras el hanout generally includes more spices than garam masala, but both contain a certain amount of the same. You can find out exactly what is included in each mix further down this article. 

What Is The Difference Between Ras El Hanout And Garam Masala?

The most notable difference is that each blend of spices comes from different parts of the world. Ras el hanout derives from North Africa, and garam masala is Indian. 


Ras el hanout has a yellow tinge to it. This is due to the presence of turmeric in the recipe. Garam masala is more of a brown color and does not contain turmeric. 

The use of such spice mixtures is what gives the finished dish its coloring, along with any tomatoes used of course. 

Flavor profile 

It is difficult to say exactly what ras el hanout tastes like as some versions contain up to 27 spices. The use of such exotic ingredients is perfect if you enjoy hot food, and if your taste buds aren’t a fan of the heat, you can adjust the recipe to suit your needs. 

Garam masala, on the other hand, is a renowned blend that should always taste spicy. The great thing about garam masala is that it can be added in at any stage of cooking. Some like to add it in when frying the onions and ginger. Others wait until the finished product is sitting at the table waiting to be eaten and simply sprinkle it on top like sugar! 

Why not find out more about spice blends and how they are used in Indian cooking by reading this article about chicken masala powder?

Garam Masala vs Ras El Hanout: A Short History 

Ras el hanout is mostly used in Moroccan cuisine. Its history dates back to the spice trade, which began nearly 2500 years ago. Travelers would purchase spices and deliver them to many different areas of the globe. Ras el hanout became a particularly popular blend used in Moroccan dishes and is still a firm favorite to this day.

Garam masala has a very different background in that it was created in Northern India. The toasty mixture of spices was used in Indian cuisine to keep locals warm during the colder months. This particular spice blend is one of the most popular on the market. 

To find out what other spice blends are available, you might want to read this article on the best shahi paneer masala brand.  

Garam Masala vs Ras El Hanout: What Dishes Are They Used In? 

Ras el hanout is often used in dishes containing meat, cous cous, and vegetables. The addition of this spice blend is ideal for adding flavor and heat, as without it, dishes can taste quite bland. 

The same can be said about garam masala in that adding such a concoction of spices is what sets a dish apart from others. 

Spice Blend Chart 

So, now that we’ve established what garam masala vs ras el hanout is, let’s take a look at the spices used in each formula.

Ras El HanoutGaram Masala 
Ground cuminCardamom seeds 
Ground gingerBlack peppercorns 
Ground turmericBlack cumin seeds
Ground cinnamon Ground cinnamon 
Coriander seedsCloves
Black pepper Nutmeg 
Ground cloves  
Ground nutmeg  

Ras El Hanout: The Recipe

Making your own ras el hanout is simple and requires just a few ingredients. Here’s how to do it:


  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2  tsp ground white pepper
  • 1/2  tsp ground cardamom 
  • 1/2 ground cloves 
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt


  • Unlike garam masala recipes, you do not need to toast the spices (unless using whole spices) before adding them to a dish. Therefore, all you need to do is mix them together and store them inside an airtight container. 

Watch this video to find out how to make your very own garam masala spice blend.

If we didn’t manage to answer your question about ras el hanout vs garam masala yet, take a look at the FAQ section below as it may be of help! 

Can I Use Garam Masala Instead of Ras El Hanout?

Yes, there is no reason why you cannot use garam masala if you happen to run out of ras el hanout. The dish may have a slightly different taste than usual, but this isn’t a bad thing. 

What is a Good Substitute for Ras El Hanout?

On the unfortunate occasion that you find you do not have any ras el hanout to hand, you can easily substitute by blending individual spices that you have lying around. Common ingredients such as coriander, nutmeg, cumin, and ginger, etc, are ideal for creating your very own Moroccan spice blend. 

What Does Garam Masala Taste Like?

Garam masala is quite spicy and literally means ‘hot spice’. It is slightly sweeter than other spice mixes due to the addition of cinnamon. 

Why not check out our article on madras curry powder vs garam masala to find out more about spice blends?

Do Spices Have An Expiration Date?

No, spices do not expire in the way that other food products do such as meat, fish or dairy, etc. However, the reason why your jars of spices have expiration dates is that over time, they do tend to lose their flavor and become less pungent or powerful. 

TOP TIP: If you do decide to make your own garam masala or ras el hanout, it is a good idea to note the date on the container you store the finished product in. Ground spices can be stored for around two years, whereas whole spices can be stored for a longer period of up to 3 to 4 years. 

Recent Posts

Popular Posts