One of the things I miss about living in a small rural town is the availability of spices and foods that aren't common grocery store staples. Pakistani cooking has taken a back burner so to speak because I can't get my hands on what I need easily. The kids father brings some boxes of Shan spices but not much else. I even tried the mid-sized city 90 miles away and the one store had very little in the way of the spices I needed.
I resorted to mail order. I also decided that I wanted to make my own garam masala like my former mother-in-law made. I asked my ex what the ingredients and ratios were for them. It seems most people that grind their own garam masala have individual preferences for how they like it. For my Peshawari Pathan inlaws it has black cardamom, cinnamon sticks and cumin seeds in it. Black cardamom, for those of you who don't know, gives foods a somewhat smoky flavor. It also has some major sinus clearing aroma when freshly ground, lol.
Here's how I made my garam masala:
6 pods black cardamom
2 sticks cinnamon
1 pinch or 1/8 tsp cumin seeds
I put it in my blender and ground it to powder. I have these great little jars that fit my blender, like canning jars but these were made specifically by Oster. Canning jars will work, too as long as they aren't the wide mouth kind.