What is Chaat Masala?
If you like Indian or Pakistani cuisine, chances are you probably have heard Chaat Masala. It is a popular spice blend consisting of several different spices that give a distinguished aroma with a spicy and tangy flavor.
This spice mix is used a lot in Indian and Pakistani recipes alike. A little sprinkle of this spice powder can enhance the taste and flavor of the food. And if one decides to use the spice, one can always adjust how much one would use according to personal liking.
This spice mix is almost always used for Pakistani street food, particularly snack street food.
Just like any food, there are many recipes for this chaat masala. Some may have the same ingredients but with different proportions. Some others will use slightly different elements.
For example, many use dry mango powder called amchoor to give sourness to the spice mix. However, some may use a mixture of amchoor and pomegranate powder. Or even omit the amchoor and use pomegranate powder. And you might come across a recipe that uses citric acid or lemon juice powder to give the tang to spice powder mix.
I have tried mixing several different ingredients and proportions based on my family and friends’ homemade chaat masala recipes. And I am settled with the one I’m sharing here.
It is based on the Pakistani style recipe but with simplified and fewer ingredients.
What is the difference between Chaat Masala and Garam Masala?
Very different. In ingredients, tastes, and use.
Chaat Masala has a mixed salty, sour, and spicy taste with a unique aroma. Garam Masala is highly aromatic, and it doesn’t have a taste.
Garam Masala is only used for savory food and mostly for main or side dishes such as curries. And chaat masala is often used for snack food and fruit salad.
When it comes to ingredients, both use cumin seeds and black pepper. But the remaining ingredients are totally different.
What do you use the spice mix for?
Chaat masala is a spice mix you would normally have over snack food such as papdi chaat (potato and chickpea salad in yogurt), fruit chaat, bhel puri, dahi baray (lentil dumpling in spicy yogurt), and chana chaat (the sweet, spicy, and tangy chickpea salad). There is no strict rule on what type of food you can have this chaat masala with.
This masala is also good for chutneys like tamarind chutney, Aloo Bukhara (plum chutney), dahi boondi, raita, etc. Or, you can sprinkle half a teaspoon of this masala over a bowl of Haleem. Your food will taste way better.
And you don’t need to restrict yourself to using this seasoning blend for only Desi recipes (Pakistani food). Try it and sprinkle this masala over your favorite food, such as salad or soup.
After many recipes and ready-made spice mix packets, I noticed that all of them have a similarity in a few ingredients. So I can safely say that these are the most important ingredients in making chat masala.
Amchur powder and Kala Namak.
The former is used to give the sourness and sharpness to the mixture. The latter is to give the piquancy and distinguished taste and flavor.
What is Chaat Masala made of?
The ingredients you need for this masala are Kashmiri red chili powder, amchoor powder/ dry mango powder, cumin seeds, black pepper powder, kala namak/ black salt, and table salt.
As mentioned above, this is a simplified recipe without fluff. I don’t use too many items in the blend as I find it better. In the past, I did try the blend of spices that included ginger powder, fennel seeds, ajwain, and whatnot. I found it overpowering and simply confusing to the dish I put it on.
Simple steps to mix your own spices
If you have all the ingredients in powder form anyway, there is nothing else you can do apart from placing each and every spice in a mixing bowl and then stirring it well. That’s it. Your homemade chaat masala powder is ready.
However, if some or all of your spice elements are whole spices, you can grind them in a spice grinder. I do this most of the time.
Because I don’t really buy spice powder anymore, I think any spice mix gives a better flavor when I freshly grind it. Plus, I save space in my kitchen cupboards and money from buying too many things, especially when I got my current spice grinder, which works amazingly (and is fairly cheap compared to other brands).
Variations for chaat masala spice blends
If you do not have Kashmiri chili powder, please make sure you choose Asian/ Indian red chili powder. And be aware of its level of spiciness because some Asian red chili powder is spicier than others. As for dry mango powder, you can substitute it with pomegranate seed powder if you like.
Also, I sometimes mix the dry mango powder with pomegranate powder in half portions each.
When it comes to black salt, I must admit that I often swap it with Himalayan pink salt simply because my kids are not keen on its strong, pungent aroma. Mind you, Kala Namak does smell like a rotten egg. Therefore, you really have to go easy on this one.
So feel free to choose whichever works best for you.
How long can you keep the spice blend?
I’d say you can keep this homemade chaat masala powder for up to a few months, provided you store the mix in a tightly sealed jar and keep the jar away from heat and sunlight.
However, this recipe only makes five tablespoons of masala. So, if you make it on purpose because you’re cooking some food that needs extra spicy flavor from this spice blend, then it should finish quickly.
Or, you can half the recipe for the first time and see if it gives you leftovers or not.
Chaat Masala Recipe
- A bowl
- A spoon
- A jar with lid
- 3 teaspoons Kashmiri red chili powder
- 1½ tablespoon ground amchoor/ dried mango
- 4 teaspoons cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon black pepper powder
- ¾ teaspoon Kala Namak/ black salt or Himalayan salt (see the note)
- 1 teaspoon table salt
- Dry roast the cumin seeds on a pan, leave them to cool and then grind them into powder.
- Place all the ingredients in a bowl and mix them until there are no lumps.
- Store the spice mix in a tightly sealed jar and keep it away from the sunlight and heat.
- Kala Namak/ black salt is what is normally put in chaat masala. But I personally prefer Himalayan salt. Because black salt has a strong aroma, like an eggy smell. So if you want to go for the traditional and authentic one, you can choose black salt. But if you prefer the simpler aroma of your chaat masala, I’d say choose Himalayan pink salt.
Nutritional info in this recipe is only estimate using online calculator. You should refer to it as a guide only. Please verify with your own data if you seek an accurate info.