Try These Six Masalas to Whip Your Kitchen Meals Quickly!
All the ingredients are from your kitchen and there is no need to explore the markets.
Indian cooking is a story of spices. It is remarkable to observe how spices are used from the simple rai, jeera, hing tadka to the complex blend of garam masala, the tickling taste of chaat masala or bitter hot pickle masala.
The Masala Story
Traditionally, we use many herbs, and spice mixes to cook our everyday meals. There is no home in India without a masala box, the most essential element of our kitchens.
Every family has a recipe for garam masala handed down through generations. This dry spice mix comes in handy without the need to roast and pound the ingredients while cooking.
Making fresh masalas every day is challenging in the present times. To make the cooking processes easier, here are some masala recipes to help you whip delicious meals quickly. All the ingredients are from your kitchen and there is no need to explore the markets.
1. Basic Gravy Masala
With this blend you can make any kind of curried vegetables like matar paneer, aloo gobi, kofte and more. Just sauté the masala add the required vegetables/dumplings, other ingredients and cook.
7 onions diced
8 tomatoes diced
½ cup ginger garlic paste
¼ cup coriander powder
2 tsp cumin powder
½ tsp cinnamon and black cardamom powder each
1 tsp turmeric powder
2.5 tsp Kashmiri red chilli powder
1 tsp salt
2.5 tbsp oil
Heat oil. Add the onions and fry until golden brown. Add the tomatoes and cook. Once the mixture becomes homogenous, add the ginger garlic paste. Cook for a few minutes. Add all the powders. Keep stirring until the oil separates. Store in the fridge and use as required. Can be stored for a week depending on the weather.
2. Khatta Masala
This spice mix comes in handy while making bhindi, karela, khatti dal or khatta Chana masala. You can even mix it with water, add some jaggery and make a khatti chutney for chaat dishes.
6 tbsp of coriander seeds
3 tsp of cumin seeds
2 tsp of carrom seeds
1.5 tsp of peppercorns
1 tsp of anardana powder
2 tbsp of amchur powder
1 tsp of black salt
Roast cumin, coriander, carrom seeds and peppercorns. Grind finely. Let it cool. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Store in the fridge.
3. Milk/Kheer Masala
This blend saves time while making sweet dishes. This can also be added to milkshakes/ lassi.
7-8 Green Cardamoms
½ cup chironji (charoli)
1/2 tsp nutmeg powder
A few saffron threads
Roast green cardamoms with skin. Cool and grind finely. Dry roast almonds, pistachios and chironji on a slow flame. Grind into a fine powder when cool. Roast saffron threads carefully until crisp and powder with hands. Blend cardamom finely. Mix everything and store in the fridge.
4. Healthy Seeds Masala
½ cup sesame seeds
½ cup poppy seeds
½ cup watermelon seeds
½ cup cashew nuts (optional)
Roast all the seeds on a low flame carefully. The seeds should become crisp but the colour must not change. Keep stirring continuously. Cool and grind into a fine powder. Add to your salads or dry vegetable dishes. This seed powder can be used to thicken gravies.
5. Raita Masala
This spice helps you to making raitas in a jiffy. Just grate, or chop vegetables whisk dahi and mix. It can be added to buttermilk, sprinkled on salads or fruits.
1 bunch of mint
1 bunch coriander
2 tsp coriander seeds
2 tbsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp carrom seeds
2 tsp peppercorns
2 tsp chilli powder
½ tsp black salt
½ tsp pink salt
Clean the bunches of mint and coriander and remove the thick stems. Wash and dry the greens thoroughly. Heat a heavy bottom pan and add mint. Keep stirring until it becomes crispy. Repeat the process for coriander. Roast cumin, coriander seeds, carrom seeds and peppercorns. Blend everything finely and store it in an airtight jar.
6. Spicy Masala Paste
This masala paste can be eaten as a chutney, spice a simple khichadi, used to temper the dal in a hurry or to make stuffed vegetable dishes. Add this paste to hung curd and marinate paneer or potato cubes. Experiment to create your own special recipes.
Traditionally, it is quite spicy. Adjust the ingredients if you prefer a milder taste.
1.5 cups coriander seeds
¼ cup cumin seeds
1 cup peeled garlic
1 cup dry red chilies
2 tsp salt
3 tbs oil
Soak the red chilies in a little water for 2 hours with just enough water. Remove from water and let them dry. Heat 2 tbs oil. Add coriander seeds and fry. Remove when cooked. Repeat the process with cumin seeds and peppercorns. Then add the garlic and remove when cooked. Add red chilies cook until done. Let the ingredients cool. Blend finely.
Heat the remaining oil and add the paste. Stir continuously until the oil separates and the mixture becomes a little dry. Remove from heat and cool thoroughly. Store in the fridge.
These masalas are easy to make over a weekend. Storing in the refrigerator increases the shelf life.
Experiment with mixing these masalas to get a new taste. Make stuffed bhindi with the healthy seeds powder, cumin powder, red chilli powder and salt.
Khatta masala with gram flour makes a great stuffing for brinjals. Healthy seed powder added to onion and garlic paste makes a nice white gravy.
Try different combinations. There are many possibilities to create your own unique taste. Cooking becomes an enriching experience with innovation and experimentation.
(Nupur Roopa is a freelance writer and a life coach for mothers. She writes articles on environment, food, history, parenting, and travel.)
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