The one flavor that most Indian snacks, street foods, roasted and fried food and salads rely on for their instant zing and the perk is the Chaat Masala. This particular mix of spice is an unique blend of spicy, salty and tart flavors and is usually added to the food after cooking and right before serving.
Usually a good sprinkle over the prepared dish and a good toss to combine is all that is needed. Be it on the cucumber slices on a hot summer day, or on your fruit salad, or over the so popular Tandoori Chicken/Chicken Tikka, your Chaat Masala will add that unbelievable edge to the flavor.
I often get asked by my not so foodie friends, why I bother to make all these at home when I have the options to just pick out one from so many packets on the shelf. Well, it is a question difficult to answer and an answer difficult for them to understand. A foodie gets a kick out of making things from scratch. That inexplicable satisfaction that follows the success of a recipe is indeed difficult to word out. The innumerable experiments, the combination and permutations and that final “nailed it” are moments to treasure.
There are a few variations to this spice mix and there are quite a different brands that sell if you want to get the store bought ones, each tasting almost similar but with some differences. I have been experimenting with the ingredients and the proportions in which they are used for sometime now and this is what we have settled on for our everyday use.
You can play around with the amounts and the ingredients and make your own. The roasted cumin, dried mango powder, coriander powder, chili pepper and the black salt among all the other ingredients, play the most important role in the balance of flavors.
Homemade: Chaat Masala
Ingredients (makes approx loosely packed 3/4 cup)
- 4 tablespoon coriander seeds
- 4 teaspoon roasted cumin powder
- 1.5 teaspoon ajwain/carom seeds
- 2.5-3 tablespoon black salt/kala namak/rock salt
- 5 red dried chiles, stems removed
- 3 teaspoon dried mango powder/amchur
- a very generous pinch of hing/asafoetida (about 1/4 teaspoon)
- 1/2 teaspoon dried ginger powder
- 1.5 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon dried mint (optional)
- 2-3 teaspoons Kashmiri red chili powder/paprika (optional, for a nice bright color)
Note: ** for the description and images of most of the spices above, read The Commonly Used Indian Spices
Roast the coriander seeds, cumin seeds and the carom seeds separately at a low flame for a few minutes only, until they are a shade darker and starts to get aromatic (the aroma is hard to miss). Remove from heat and let cool.
Combine all ingredients and grind into a fine powder.
Store in air tight containers.
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 10 minutes
Serves: makes about 3/4 cup
Serving suggestion: as a garnish to perk flavor
Shelf Life: many months (but best used within one month for strong flavor and freshness)
Spiced Powder – with Curry Leaves