Six Different Types of Masalas

Masala is a spice blend that may be familiar to fans of Southeast Asian cuisine. It is a dry or pastes blend of fragrant Indian spices that are used to flavor various traditional meals and beverages throughout the region. There are several versions of the concoction, each with its own distinct spice blend and application. In Indian cuisine, several varieties of herbal blends are employed. This brilliantly strong condiment is used alone or in combination with other spices in recipes like chicken curry. Masala recipes are passed down through families like family heirlooms. While most of these Masalas may be purchased pre-made in stores, the flavors are far superior when created at home. The varieties of masala used differ by area and can be essentially classed as North Indian masala and South Indian masala.

Here are Different Types of Masalas:

1. Garam Masala

Garam Masala literally which means “hot and spicy combination” is India’s most popular spice blend and a culinary staple in every home. It is a cultural icon and India’s equivalent of an all-purpose spice blend. Garam masalas differ in flavor depending on the ingredients, but they always have the same warming aromatic qualities. Its application is as varied as the number of ingredients, and it can be used to season the dish at the beginning, end, or in the middle alongside other spice elements. 

Garam Masala is the most utilized of these options to add fragrance and flavor towards the conclusion of the cooking process. This is because many of the commonly used substances have a strong aromatic flavor and hence lose their power more quickly as the combination is not very spicy but can boost body temperature through speeding metabolism. This, at least, is the premise presented in Ayurvedic medicine. This blend is supposed to have originated in Northern India, and others believe it was first used in the 13th century by the Mongol Empire. 

2. Chaat Masala

A picture of Chaat masala.

Chaat masala is a powder spice blend. According to legend, it was invented in the 17th century by the kitchen staff of Mogal emperor Shah Jahan, who was sick and could only eat smaller, lighter fare. It is a flavorful Indian spice blend that adds a dynamic twist to the cuisine. Chaat masala’s chatpatta flavor will undoubtedly liven up your bland food. All that is required is a pinch of chaat masala, and the recipe is ready to wow. Chaat masala powder enhances all foods with only a sprinkle on top, whether it’s pani puri, sev puri, pakora, or salads. There is also no set recipe for chaat masala spice blend. Chaat masala is prepared differently by each family. Chaat masala ingredients include a blend of spices such as cumin seeds, red chili powder, coriander, amchur powder, black salt, black pepper, and hing. It can also be sprinkled over raitas, potatoes, popcorn, fries, tandoori chicken, seekh kababs, chicken or paneer tikka, and a variety of other cuisines.

3. Tandoori Masala

One of the popular masalas from India, the commercial version of tandoori masala.

Tandoori masala is a spice blend created expressly for use with a tandoor, or clay oven, in traditional Indian subcontinent cookery. The precise spices vary slightly depending on locale, but commonly include garam masala, garlic, ginger, onion, cayenne pepper, and other spices and additions. Spices are frequently pounded together with a pestle and mortar.

Kundan Lal experimented with the tandoor, which was typically used for baking naan, while working in a restaurant in Peshawar in the 1920s. He was the first to cook chicken in the tandoor, and the spice combination he created and used to cook the chicken in this way became known as tandoori masala. Kundan Lal built the Moti Mahal restaurant in Delhi, where the dishes he prepared using tandoori masala gained national recognition, with politicians such as Jawaharlal Nehru praising the taste, and global reputation as the restaurant became a global chain. Indian restaurants across the world pay homage to tandoori masala on their menus since tandoori chicken and butter chicken are popular staples.

4. Sambar Masala

Poosani Kai Sambar is a native pumpkin dish from South India.

A South Indian meal will be incomplete without the Sambar masala, which is one of the most popular dishes in Southern India along with Pongal, Appam, Masala Dosa, and many more tasty dishes. It’s a lentil and vegetable stew or chowder cooked with tamarind and toovar dal broth. This dish dates to the early 1930s through the introduction of Udupi cuisine to Mumbaiites with the opening of Cafe Mysore in Matunga, a Mumbai suburb. The owners are from real Udupi, as opposed to most other ‘Udupi’ restaurants, which are managed by Shettys from or near Mangalore. The sambar in these Shetty-run restaurants is different in that it has been modified to suit the taste buds of their local clientele. They have developed a sweet vegetable dal that is suited for their local customers. As a result, its genuine flavor has been lost. The Sambar in Udupi is much more pungent, aromatic, and flavorful.

5. Chicken Tikka Masala

Chicken tikka masala is a spicy gravy with roasted marinated chicken chunks. The gravy is typically creamy and orange in color. Cooks from India living in the United Kingdom popularized the dish, which is now available in restaurants all over the world.

It is made up of boneless chunks of chicken marinated in spices and yogurt that are roasted in an oven and served with a creamy sauce. A tomato and coriander sauce is widespread, but no recipe for chicken tikka masala is standard; a survey found that the only consistent ingredient in 48 different recipes was chicken. Tomatoes, cream, coconut cream, and a masala spice blend are common ingredients in the sauce. The sauce and chicken pieces can be colored orange with turmeric, paprika, tomato purée, or food coloring. 

Historians of ethnic food Peter and Colleen Grove debate multiple claims about the origins of chicken tikka masala, concluding that the dish “was most certainly invented in Britain, probably by a Bangladeshi chef. They speculate that “the shape of things to come may have been a recipe for Shahi Chicken Masala in Mrs Balbir Singh’s Indian Cookery published in 1961.”

6. Korma Masala

Chicken Korma Masala is also one of the native Indian dishes that use plenty of spices. 

Korma Masala is a fragrant spice mix that adds a delightful scent and flavor to dishes. This spice powder can be used in vegetable kurma, egg korma, or chicken and mutton korma curry recipes. Very fragrant and distinct from other spices and garam masala powder.

Korma recipes employ yogurt or coconut to make a spicy sauce that is also used in various forms of curries such as vegetables, meat, and eggs in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, where the spices used are nearly identical with minor alterations or additions.

Created spices save time while also adding scent and flavor to your meals. Masala has several versions you can try on like Paneer Masala or Masala Pav and many others. The key is the use of superior spices. This powder spice can be made in bulk and stored in the refrigerator for a few months. Some commercial versions are available in stores.