Masala is a term used on the Indian subcontinent to denote a spice mix. A wide range of masalas is utilized in Indian cuisine. The term has its roots in the Arabic word Masalih.
A masala can be dried or a paste, and some masalas include more than just spices, e.g. crushed raw onions, lime juice or vinegar. Many modern masalas include spices and other ingredients that did not originally grow on the Indian subcontinent, such as tomato paste and chilli (both the tomato and the chilli pepper originated in the Americas).
Garam masala is a blend of dry roasted spices ground together. It is common in Indian cuisine, as well as in nearby countries such as Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan. The word garam means hot in Hindi.
There are many different recipes for garam masala, with some being more common in certain regions. This is one example of ingredients for a garam masala that is eaten in many different parts of the Indian subcontinent: black peppercorns, white peppercorns, black cardamom pods, green cardamom pods, fennel, cloves, cinnamon, mace, cumin, and coriander.
Tandoori masala is used for a variety of dishes cooked in a tandoor, a type of Indian clay oven.
There are many different versions of tandoori masala, and many of them use the spice mix garam masala as a base to which other ingredients are added. Tandoori masala is more of a sauce or paste than a dry mix, and the ingredients are ground together with a pestle and mortar.
This is one example of an ingredients lite for a popular tandoori masala: garam masala, cayenne pepper, garlic, ginger and onion.
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Kaala masala is a spice mix from the Maharashtra region of India, and it is known for being very strong. A typical kaala masala will include cumin, coriander, clove, chili, kalpasi, sesame seeds, coconut, and cinnamon sticks – and sometimes other ingredients as well. Karam masala contains plenty of spices that have been roasted to a dark colour, and kaala means black in the Marathi language.
This masala is chiefly associated with Indian, Bangladeshi and Pakistani cuisine. It contains dried ginger, chili powder, cumin, coriander, amchoor, asafoetida, black pepper, and salt. The most commonly used salt for chaat masala is kala namak, a dark kiln-fired rock salt with a sulphurous smell.
The spice mix Bafat is associated with Mangalorean cuisine, where it is chiefly (but not exclusively) used for pork dishes. It contains dried and ground chilli peppers, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, mustard seeds, black peppercorns, cinnamon, turmeric and cloves.
The curry dishes known as vindaloo dishes (such as pork vindaloo) developed in the coastal state Goa, where Portuguese sailors intermingled with the locals. Vindaloo masala comes in many varieties and is normally a paste rather than a dry spice mix. Here is the ingredients list for a very popular version: oil, lime juice, garlic (not garlic powder), ginger (not ginger powder), roughly chopped onion, dry red chillies, black peppercorns, cloves, turmeric powder, cumin seeds, and cinnamon stick.
Unlike many masalas, panch phoron is a whole spice blend. All the ingredients are seeds and they are not ground or chopped. It is especially common in dishes from eastern India, southern Nepal and Bangladesh. The name means five spices, and a common panch phoron contains equal amounts of cumin seed, fennel seed, black mustard seed, fenugreek seeds and nigella seeds.