The Masala Life: 7 Traditional Spice Mixes From Different Regions Of India

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Masalas or spice mixes are the essence of Indian cuisine, infusing dishes with irresistible aromas, vibrant colours, and mouth-watering flavours. These blends also serve as a culinary map, reflecting the diversity of flavours across the country. Embark on a masaledar journey as we explore some of these regional spice mixes and what they are used for. Here are 7 classic Indian masalas that you should have in your kitchen to add a touch of spice to your food (and life!).
Also Read: Cooking Made Easy! Prepare These 6 Masala Pastes And Store For Whole Week

Here Are 7 Traditional Indian Spice Mixes That You Need To Know About:

1. Podi Masala

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Podi masala can be eaten with idlis and dosas. Photo Credit: iStock

No exploration of South Indian masalas is complete without mentioning podi. Also known as milagai podi or gunpowder masala, this blend typically includes urad dal, chana dal, sesame seeds, red chillies, curry leaves, and sometimes asafoetida (hing) and dried coconut. Unlike other masalas, podi is often eaten as it is. It pairs perfectly with idlis and dosas and can be mixed with a little ghee before serving. 
Detailed recipe for podi here.

2. Chettinad Masala

Tamil Nadu’s Chettinad cuisine is renowned for its fiery flavours, and you can get a taste of it by making Chettinad masala. This blend features red chillies, star anise, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, and various whole spices. Use this spice mix to prepare biryanis, vegetable curries, and non-vegetarian dishes.
Recipe for Chettinad masala.

3. Panch Phoron

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Panch phoron is used in Bengali and Oriya cuisine. Photo Credit: iStock

Hailing from the eastern part of India, Panch Phoron (or panch phoran) flavours dishes from Bengali and Oriya cuisines. The blend contains only five key spices: cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds, mustard seeds, fennel seeds, and nigella seeds. It adds a distinctive taste to mixed vegetable dishes, various sabzi preparations, curries, and more.
The complete recipe for Panch Phoron.

4. Tandoori Masala

North Indian cuisine boasts a delightful range of tandoori dishes loved by many. The common flavour base for these dishes comes from the tandoori masala. This blend includes dried ginger, garlic, onion, pepper, kasoori methi, and other aromatic ingredients. Use it as a seasoning or in marinades to infuse a tantalizing taste into your dishes.
Find the tandoori masala recipe here.

5. Garam Masala

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Nearly every household has its own version of garam masala. Photo Credit: iStock

Garam masala is the quintessential spice blend associated with Indian cuisine. From snacks and soups to dal and sabzi dishes, garam masala is a key ingredient in countless Indian treats. Different regions put their unique spin on this masala. Some essential components include cumin seeds, coriander seeds, peppercorns, cloves, cardamoms, and cinnamon. In North India, you might find additions like fennel seeds, bay leaves, nutmeg, and mace.
Here are easy recipes for two versions of Indian garam masala.
Also Read: 5 Best Substitutes If You Are Running Out Of Garam Masala

6. Goda Masala

Moving towards the western part of India, the star spice mix of Maharashtrian cuisine is goda masala. It flavours many traditional curries, dal dishes, and snacks. Goda masala features coriander seeds, sesame seeds, cumin seeds, dried coconut (kopra), cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, and other spices.
Detailed recipe for Goda Masala.

7. Bafat Masala

Popular in Mangalorean and Goan cuisines, Bafat masala imparts a spicy kick to non-vegetarian dishes. This Indian spice blend also has a red chilli base and includes coriander seeds, cumin seeds, turmeric, and whole spices.
Step-by-step recipe for Bafat Masala.

In addition to these regional spice blends, several Indian masalas are famously associated with specific dishes, such as pav bhaji masala from Maharashtra, sambhar masala from South India, and chhole/channa masala from North India. Chaat masala is another popular Indian spice blend enjoyed in various corners of the country.
Also Read: Indian Cooking Tips: How To Make All-Purpose Sabji Masala (Recipe Video Inside)

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