shawarma vs garam masala

Shawarma vs Garam Masala: A Guide to These Delicious Flavors

Adding seasoning to enrich the flavor of food is an inherent element of Asian culture. Shawarma spice mix and garam masala are popular seasonings that are used to impart irresistible flavor and an extra zing to your classic recipes. Due to its aromatic flavoring, shawarma vs garam masala is a popular comparison. Read on to learn more about their similarities and differences. 

What Is Shawarma Spice Mix? 

Shawarma is popular street food in the Middle East made from marinating meat with a bunch of spices. The shawarma spice mix is a wholesome seasoning consisting of aromatic spices like cinnamon, allspice, cloves, and nutmeg. 

The blend of spices is an important addition to Middle Eastern food, especially to rotisserie meats. The word “Shawarma” is an Arabic version of the Turkish word çevirme. The Turkish rendition translates to the word “turning” which is in reference to the intense coating of rotisserie meats–turning in an axis. Even though this dish originated in Turkey, it is widely enjoyed in the Middle East in numerous forms. 

What Is Garam Masala? 

Garam masala is another popular seasoning added to various kinds of foods. It is a powder made up of warm spices which are added during the tempering process. Due to the natural appeal of these individual spices, shawarma seasoning vs garam masala is a close competition in the spice world. 

Garam masala is made from dry roasting and grinding spices which elevates the flavor and taste of food exponentially. Just like garam masala, there are other spice blends that enrich the flavor. If you are interested, check out our articles on harissa vs garam masala, berbere vs garam masala, and baharat vs garam masala to choose the right homemade blend for your original recipe. 

Shawarma Vs Garam Masala: The Differences 

Shawarma spice and garam masala are both incredible additions to your kitchen cabinet. With an overpowering blend of warm spices which can last for days, both these spices are different from each other. Without further ado, let’s get into the shawarma vs garam masala differences. 


Shawarma spice is Turkish by origin though it is a classic Arab dish of meat. The middle-eastern inspired spice blend incorporates a number of warm spices like turmeric, cinnamon, and paprika along with a dash of paprika. 

Garam masala is a popular seasoning in Indian dishes. This warm spice blend was first used in North Indian recipes due to the influence of the Mughals. In Ayurvedic medicine, these spices are responsible for balancing the body, mind, and spirit. Therefore, spices have been an integral part of Indian culture from time immemorial. 


If we compare the taste of the two spice blends, one can notice a sharp difference. Shawarma has strong hints of garlic, hot paprika, and cumin which are effective in imparting a smoky flavor to the meat. 

On the other hand, garam masala adds an aromatic flavor to your food. Garam masala has a distinct taste of black pepper and coriander seed in comparison to the Shawarma spice mix–the main component being garlic powder and hot paprika. Adding this spice mix to your favorite recipes makes a big difference! 


When it comes to shawarma vs garam masala calorie portions, there is a huge margin. While shawarma spice mix gives 23 calories for every tablespoon, garam masala contains only 13 calories. That is almost half the amount of calories Shawarma provides and is a better option if you’re checking your weight. 

Shawarma spice mix

Health Benefits 

For every serving of these spice blends, there is a distribution of nutrients throughout the body. Shawarma spice mix contains ingredients like turmeric and ginger which help in reducing inflammation. They are also responsible for lowering cholesterol levels in the body. 

Cumin, which is a common ingredient in both spices is associated with boosting digestive enzymes. Cardamom pods that are present in garam masala spice blends have the ability to regulate blood sugar levels and improve heart health. 

Methods of Preparation

 The shawarma spice mix contains 5 main ingredients that must be used if you want your dishes to be flavorful. 

  • Garlic and ginger: We recommend using the powder form as you can easily blend it with the spices. If you want to use fresh ginger and garlic, you can omit them from the shawarma blend and add them directly to the meat. 
  • Hot paprika: This is another component of the spice blend that is crucial for imparting a rich color to the blend. 
  • Cumin: This adds a smoky flavor.
  • Allspice: A pinch of this ingredient can change the taste of your spice mix. 
  • Turmeric: This is optional but it gives your mix a musky flavor. 

You can simply roast these ingredients in a pan on low flame and transfer them to a spice grinder. You can follow the recipe of this DIY Shawarma spice blend here. 

For garam masala, you’ll need coriander seeds, cumin seeds, black pepper, cloves, cardamoms, cinnamon sticks, star anise, nutmeg, and bay leaves. Just like the previous recipe, semi-roast the spices on low heat to retain their flavors. You can also choose the sun drying method which brings out the aroma of the essential oils. 

In case of need, all the required ingredients can easily be found in an indian grocery store online.

Preservation Techniques 

Shawarma has a shelf life of around 4 to 6 months if it lasts that long. You should be storing your shawarma blend in an airtight container in a cool dry place. For garam masala, celebrity chef Harpal Singh Sokhi says, “The Garam Masala is simple and can be stored for more than a month in an air tight.” 

Are Shawarma Spice And Garam Masala The Same? 

No, Shawarma and garam masala are not the same. Shawarma spice and garam masala are similar in terms of their texture, preparation methods, and storage options, but they taste completely different due to the varied spices. 

Can You Use Garam Masala Instead Of Shawarma?  

Since both spice blends have different flavoring, it is advisable to use specific spices for different recipes. Since garam masala imparts an aromatic, warm flavoring, it can disturb the balance of a Shawarma dish. 

Why Is Shawarma So Good? 

Shawarma is a popular delicacy that is cooked with shawarma seasoning, giving flavor to the food. Since the meat is marinated with a rich spice blend and slow roasted vertically on a spike, it has a completely smoky flavor. It is a visual as well as gastronomical delight for most meat lovers. 

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