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25 Masaleydaar Recipes
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The Masaleydaar cookbook invites Indian food enthusiasts to explore Indian spice-blends like never before. The ambitious project has involved untangling and cooking with nearly 3 dozen spice-blends (typically of 3 or more ingredients), in order to understand the wide range of flavor combinations that exist within the Indian cuisine. I have set out to help people understand that the word 'curry' is not a pronoun, but an adjective, and there is more to Indian food than merely saying that spicy or hot.

Pantry essentials / what to keep on hand:
  • Cooking Oil - neutral oils like canola/vegetable are fine, certain recipes benefit from the use of sesame oil - but it is not necessary. 

  • Red or white onions, shallots are used for Kashmiri Garam Masala, which is scheduled for Dec 25.

  • A ginger-garlic paste or these ingredients separately - this is very important.

  • Curry leaves, if you happen to pass by an Indian store - not all recipes use them, but an unopened packet of FRESH curry leaves will last in your fridge for about 2 weeks, easily. If they get moldy, toss them.

  • Coconut milk AND yogurt. Recipes use these ingredients on a recurring basis.

  • Proteins - daals (skinless split lentils), whole beans, meat/seafood of choice, seasonal squash, mushrooms and potatoes.

  • *Nearly* every recipe is adaptable to potatoes and paneer :D

  • Also, if you can find soy nuggets or tofu (for those who are vegan) - keep them on hand.

  • Souring agents - lemon is most versatile, but others include: tomatoes of choice, lime, tamarind etc.Most are adaptable across various recipes.

25 days of flavor!
  1. Panch Phoran

  2. Bengali Gorom Moshala

  3. Achaari Masala

  4. Tandoori Masala

  5. Homestyle 2 Garam Masala

  6. Shahjahani Masala

  7. Malwani Garam Masala

  8. Ellu Podi ** 

  9. Goan Xacuti Masala

  10. Dhansaak Masala

  11. Ka(t)chori Masala

  12. Gujarati Daal Masala

  13. Chai Masala

  14. Nihari Masala

  15. Bihari Masala

  16. Anglo Indian Masala

  17. Goda Masala **

  18. Pondicherry Garam Masala

  19. Rajasthani Soola Masala

  20. Vidarbha Kala Masala **

  21. Mukhwaas

  22. Gothsu Masala ** 

  23. Dum Masala

  24. Konkani Chaat Masala

  25. Kashmiri Garam Masala


About the blends

  • Eat plenty of dairy (if you eat dairy) around the meal. These are warming spices and if you have a tender digestion, it can cause discomfort. If you have a delicate constitution, pace yourself - these spices are not really designed to be consumed everyday or in large quantities.

  • Include dairy in your diet, particularly chaas or lassi, if you can consume dairy. If you do not consume dairy, soak half a teaspoon of Tukmaria seeds or Sabja / sweet basil seeds in a cup of water. (NOT CHIA SEEDS), and when the seeds have fluffed up, glup them down with the water. This will help your gut feel balanced.

  • Blends may have common allergens like sesame seeds and coconut, or may contain traces of them. Nearly all of them include cinnamon, a few may contain asafetida, that contains trace amounts of gluten. Please use your discretion while using the blends if this is a matter of any concern for your diet.

  • Blends with a significant portion of sesame, coconut or any other nuts are marked with a double asterisk, like this: ** 


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Achaari Masala
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Panch Phoran: An eternally simple blend of spices, Panch Phoran is an essential spice blend in the kitchens of West Bengal. Regions around it on the mainland of India such as Bihar, Jharkhand and Orissa also have versions of this spice blend. But they are fundamentally similar - five whole spices in equal quantities, measured and ready for the pan. Panch Phoran Potatoes - is the easiest way to use this spice blend. The potatoes absorb the flavors like a sponge. Cook them low and slow for a fantastic contrast of textures. Panch Phoran Potatoes Makes: 2-3 servings Time: 5-7 minutes plus prep time Ingredients 1-2 tbsp mustard oil or olive oil ½ tbsp Panch Phoran Leaflets from 1 whole curry leaf, optional 3-4 medium potatoes, diced and parboiled Salt, to taste 1 tsp lemon juice Method Start a shallow saucepan with mustard oil. Heat until hot but not smoking. Add the Panch Phoran and stir to evenly distribute the spices. Allow them to crackle and season the oil. Add the curry leaf, if using. Tip in the diced and parboiled potatoes and stir to coat them well in the spices. Add salt and stir again. Reduce the heat and allow them to cook through, stirring occasionally to evenly brown the potatoes. When they are cooked, finish with the lemon juice and stir well. Serve warm.

A simple blend of three spices: cardamom, cinnamon and cloves, this masala lends itself to a delicate pulao. A Cranberry & Almond Pulao with Bengali Gorom Masala will be an easy crowd pleaser for the holidays. Makes: 2 servings Time: 20 minutes plus prep. Ingredients 1 tbsp ghee 1 tsp black cumin seeds ¼ cup slivered white or red onions ½ tbsp Bengali Gorom Masala 1 cup basmati rice, soaked in water until ready to use 2 tbsp slivered almonds 1 ⅓ cup boiling water ¼ cup soaked dried cranberries 1 tbsp lime juice Salt, to taste 1 tbsp lime peel Method Warm the ghee in a large non-stick saucepan. When the ghee has melted, add the black cumin seeds, and slivered onions. Saute until fragrant. Reduce the heat. Sprinkle the Bengali Gorom Masala into the ghee and stir well. Drain the rice and tip it into the saucepan. Add the slivered almonds. Stir in long sweeping motions to prevent the rice grain from breaking up while coating the grains in the masala. Carefully add in the boiling water - it should cover the surface of the rice by ¼”. Drain the cranberries and add those in. Add in the lime juice and salt. Give it a light stir. Let this boil. When the rice has absorbed most of the water, dust in the lime peel. Reduce the heat to low. Cover and cook for 10-12 minutes until the rice is completely done. Do not open until the very end. If the water seems to have been absorbed away but the rice feels undercooked, add ⅛ cup of boiling water all around the pan. Cover and let this steam up again. Keep covered until ready to eat.

Bengali Gorom Masala
Panch Phoran
Achaari Masala

This blend of spices is a traditional pickling blend and is particularly used to make quick preserves, more commonly known as pickles. The spices are sharp and pungent, so the best compliment to it is a blend of sweeter crunchy fresh vegetables. Typically, this is used to ‘pickle’ vegetables like carrot sticks, cauliflower florets, kohlrabi, turnips and tender green beans. This recipe is not suitable for frozen vegetables. Prep: Trim the vegetables into bite sized pieces and flash steam them to tenderize their surface. Drain and set it out on a large kitchen towel to dry. Cover with another kitchen towel so that all the moisture is absorbed. All vegetables must be dry on the surface. Ingredients 2 tbsp mustard oil, preferred or olive oil ½ tbsp Achaari Masala 1 cup flash steamed mixed vegetables 2 tbsp lemon juice Salt, to taste, optional Method Heat the oil in a wide saucepan. When it is hot but not smoking, reduce the heat to low. Immediately add the Achaari Masala and quickly tip in the flash steamed and air dried vegetables. Stir well to coat. Stir in the lemon juice and turn off the heat. Add salt, if using and stir again. Do not cover while it is steaming. Transfer to a shallow bowl so that all the spices continue to season the vegetables. The pickled vegetables are ready to eat in a few hours. Store remaining vegetables in the refrigerator for up to a week.

A favorite of restaurant menus, this masala is fragrant and spicy and works great with a range of vegetables and proteins. Marination helps the spices seep through and flavor every inch of your main ingredient well. An easy way to stretch this spice is to use it for a home-style pizza! Makes: 3-4 servings Time: 20 minutes, plus marination Ingredients: Tandoori Chicken 1 tbsp olive oil ½ tbsp tandoori masala ½ tsp ginger-garlic paste ¼ cup Greek yogurt, whisked ½ lb chicken (or mushrooms / paneer) Salt, to taste Ingredients: Pizza 4-6 Italian bread slices Pizza sauce, optional 1 cup Mozzarella cheese Prepared Tandoori chicken Fresh cilantro Method: Tandoori Chicken Mix all the ingredients for the tandoori chicken in a large bowl, and set aside to marinate for 20 minutes or more. When ready to cook, thread the pieces on a skewer and grill the chicken for 20 minutes at 400’F with a drip pan below to catch the drippings. Alternately, place everything in a shallow oven safe glass pan and bake it at 400’F until the chicken is cooked. If using paneer - blanch the paneer pieces in hot water for 10 minutes to help it absorb the spices better. And proceed with the recipe. If using mushrooms, marinate and lightly cook them in a saucepan before proceeding to the pizza assembly part of the recipe. Method: Pizza Shred some of the chicken for the pizza. Prepare a toaster pan with foil to help distribute the heat and catch drippings. Arrange the bread slices on the pan. Assemble the pizza with pizza sauce, if using. Generously cover each slice in mozzarella cheese, top with the shredded chicken (paneer or mushrooms) and cilantro. Broil until the cheese melts. Serve immediately.

Tandoori Masala

This masala is my husbands’ favorite because it is one my MIL uses. It is fragrant and does not have as much heat as others. It needs a cream-base to shine and release its mellow flavors, which is achieved in this vegan Korma. Use frozen mixed vegetables to make easy work of this delicious recipe, and set a pot of rice to cook before you start - because you will want to eat this right out of the pan! Makes 3-4 servings Time: 20 mins plus prep. Ingredients 1 tbsp cooking oil 2-3 shallots, sliced 1 tsp ginger paste 1 jalapeno, deseeded and sliced, optional ½ tbsp Homestyle Garam Masala 1 can, coconut milk 2 cups mixed vegetables, parboiled Salt, to taste Cilantro leaves, as desired Method Start a saucepan on medium high. Add the cooking oil. When it warms up, add the shallots and saute until soft and translucent. Add the ginger paste and jalapeno if using. Sprinkle in the Homestyle Garam Masala and stir to distribute it evenly. Add the coconut milk and stir again. Tip in the par boiled mixed vegetables, add the salt and some of the cilantro leaves if using. Cover, reduce the heat to low and let this come to a boil. Cook until the vegetables are tender, 10-12 minutes on low. Serve over freshly steamed rice with extra garnish of cilantro.

Homestyle Garam Masala

Use any recipe for a simple syrup of your choice. While this recipe was included in a Forbes G&T round-up, feel free to make it into a mocktail by merely skipping the gin. The mixer helps make an effervescent and fragrant drink. Makes: 1 Time: 5 minutes plus prep and assembly time Ingredients 7-8 cloves 2-3 cubes Clove-smoked ice, see prep note 1 oz Jaisalmer Craft Gin 1 tbsp Shahjahani Simple Syrup 4 oz sparkling lemon (Fever-Tree) 1 oz sparkling grapefruit, optional One lemongrass leaflet, for garnish, optional Few Schezwan Pepper pods for garnish To make clove smoked ice: Prepare an ice-cube tray with water. Prepare a heat proof tray with 5-6 cloves. Using a matchstick, light the pile of cloves on fire. Using a pair of tongs, immediately drop one or more burning cloves into each ice-cube section. Freeze until ready to use. Method Chill the glass before starting. To smoke-rinse the glass, place 1-2 cloves on a heatproof tray. Using a matchstick set them on fire. Immediately flip the glass over the burning clove. Allow the glass to take on the aroma undisturbed until the drink is ready. In a small chilled glass jar, or a cocktail shaker, combine the gin with the simple syrup. Shake until well mixed. To serve, place two or more clove-smoked ice cubes into the smoke-rinsed glass. Carefully pour over the infused gin and finish with sparkling lemon. Carefully add the sparkling grapefruit if using, to preserve the color. If using a lemongrass leaflet, twist it into a spiral, and slide it into the glass. Garnish with a few pods of Schezwan pepper. Serve immediately. Forbes link:

From the mango-and-coconut filled coastal region around Goa, the Malwani Garam Masala blend is hot, spicy and fragrant - everything you’d want in a spice blend. It has more than 6 spices, the primary heat inducing components being Beydagi chilies, and cinnamon. A little bit goes a long way, so use judiciously. A quick and easy recipe using Malwani Garam Masala - steamed yellow lentils. Makes: 4 servings Time: 20 mins plus prep time Ingredients 1 tbsp ghee or neutral cooking oil 4-5 shallots, sliced 2-3 large garlic cloves, smashed ½ tsp ginger paste 3-4 curry leaves, fresh ¼ tsp asafoetida ½ tbsp Malwani Garam Masala ⅔ cup uncooked Toor Daal, see prep note Water as needed 3 tbsp unsalted peanuts, parboiled 1 tsp tamarind paste (not concentrate) 1 tbsp jaggery Salt, to taste Cilantro, to garnish Pre-prep Daal Soak the toor daal in cool water for 20 minutes. Lightly rinse and add 1 ½ cup water. Pressure cook or boil on stovetop until the daal has broken down. Whisk until smooth. Set aside until ready to use. Method Start a deep saucepan with ghee or cooking oil. Add the shallots, garlic, ginger and curry leaves and saute until the ghee/oil is fragrant. Reduce the heat and sprinkle in the asafoetida, the Malwani Garam Masala. Stir for 15 seconds and carefully pour in the cooked and whisked toor daal into the pot from one side to reduce splashing. Add water as needed, the consistency at this point should be of a thin soup. Add the par boiled and unsalted peanuts, tamarind paste, jaggery and salt and bring it to a boil. Reduce heat and allow this to simmer and thicken for 7-8 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent the daal from settling at the bottom of the pot. When the consistency has reached that of a creamy soup, add the cilantro and remove from heat. Serve immediately with rice or choice of roti.

Malwani Garam Masala
Shahajahani Garam Masala

This sesame-seed based spice is fragrant and nutty and needs very little to make it shine. Typically used to make a dipping sauce for idlis from southern India, this recipe shows its versatility. Makes 2 servings Time: 5 minutes plus prep time Ingredients 1 tbsp ghee 1/2 tbsp Ellu Podi 2 potatoes, boiled, skinned and cubed Salt, to taste Method Warm a saucepan with ghee. Dust in the Ellu Podi and the potatoes. Stir to coat. Reduce the heat and let the spices infuse into the potatoes. Season with salt, serve warm.

Ellu Podi

From the western coastal region, this blend of spices is popular in and around Goa. The preparations typically show off a beautiful overlay of historical Portuguese influence on the region’s cuisine. Typically used to flavor sea-food based dishes, this recipe is vegetarian and uses sprouted whole mung beans. Makes 2-3 servings Time: 35 mins plus prep time and time to sprout the beans Ingredients 2 tbsp neutral cooking oil ¼ cup red or white onion, finely diced ¼ cup coconut, freshly grated or frozen 1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste ½ tbsp Goan Xacuti Masala ½ cup whole green mung beans, soaked and sprouted overnight, see prep instructions 1 cup water, or as needed 1 handful cilantro leaves, finely chopped, optional 1 tbsp tamarind paste Salt, to taste Method Rinse the whole mung beans in two changes of cold water and soak for 4-6 hours. Then drain the water and cover it in a wet kitchen towel. Set aside for 6 hours, or until the outer shell breaks and the beans begin to sprout. Quickly pick out any beans that are still dry and have not absorbed any water -as these beans will not cook and must be discarded. Rinse the sprouted mung beans before using. Add 1 tablespoon of the cooking oil to a large, heavy bottom saucepan and start it on medium high. Saute the onions until they are golden. Add the coconut and saute until the mix is fragrant. Remove this from the heat. When it has cooled, transfer it to a blender jar and blend with a little water until it is a smooth paste. Add the remaining oil to the pan and start it up on medium high. Add in the ginger and garlic paste and saute until it is fragrant. Dust in the Xacuti Masala powder, give it a good stir and quickly pour in the onion-coconut paste. Mix it well and allow this to warm through. Carefully tip in the sprouted mung beans. Add in half a cup of water and bring this to a boil. Let this cook uncovered for 8-10 minutes on medium high. Add additional water if the beans still feel firm and cover to finish cooking on low to desired tenderness. Finish with cilantro leaves if using, stir in the tamarind paste and salt. Serve warm with either a side of a crusty bread or over freshly cooked rice.

Goan Xacuti Masala

An iconic set of flavors special to Parsi cuisine, this blend is a recipe-specific set of spices - used for its namesake, Dhansaak. Dhansaak is a stew, with a combination of lentils, some greens and some meat. The meat is either goat meat or chicken, but for this dish we will use a different protein, eggs, for a preparation that appears similar to Shakshuka, but isn't. Makes 3-4 servings Time: 20 minutes plus prep time Ingredients 1 tbsp oil ½ cup finely diced onions 1 tsp ginger-garlic paste ½ tbsp Dhansaak masala 3-4 tomatoes, freshly chopped 3-4 eggs, hard boiled and halved lengthwise ½ cup baby spinach Salt, to taste Method Warm the oil in a shallow pan. Add the onions and saute until softened and golden. Add the ginger-garlic paste and saute on medium high until fragrant, 1 minute. Dust in the Dhansaak Masala, and add the freshly chopped tomatoes. Stir untl well combined. Allow the tomatoes to cook and soften. This is the sauce. When the sauce is sufficiently thickened, reduce the heat and add the halved hard boiled eggs, the yolk side facing up. Sprinkle the baby spinach into the sauce, salt to taste, and cover the saucepan. Cook on low heat for 8 minutes until the eggs take on the reddish tinge of the tomato sauce. Serve immediately over rice, or alongside toasted bread.

Dhansaak Masala

This blend of spices is used to season a stuffed croquette-like snack dish enjoyed all across India, the Kachori. While every region puts their own spin on the dish, it remains a fantastic blend of spices that can easily become the life of a party. This dish is as simple as simple can be - because the spice carries all the fragrant flavors to make an ingredient shine. Baby portabella mushrooms or crimini mushrooms are the perfect vehicle for it. Makes: 2 servings Time: 10 minutes Ingredients 2 tbsp salted butter ½ tbsp Kachori Spice 1 ½ cup quartered baby portabella mushrooms 1 tsp lemon juice 2-3 tbsp finely chopped cilantro, optional Method Melt the butter in a shallow saucepan. Add the Kachori spice and stir it into the melted butter. When it is fragrant, toss in the quartered mushrooms. Stir well to ensure the mushrooms are fully coated in the spicy butter. Add the lemon juice, cilantro and stir well again. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for 2 minutes, or until the mushrooms soften a little but don't completely wilt. Uncover, stir and cook for a minute more or until the ‘sauce’ thickens to the desired consistency. Remove from heat. Serve as a hot side dish.

Kachori Spice
Gujarati Daal Masala

As the name suggests, this is another dish specific spice blend that adapts to a myriad of ingredients, like sweet potatoes. The spice blend is strongly flavored and aromatic, whose heat balances out against tender sweet potatoes. Makes: 3-4 servings Time: 20 minutes plus prep time. Ingredients 1 tbsp cooking oil 6-8 pearl onions, skinned and halved 1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste 2-3 leaflets of curry leaves, optional 2 dried red chilies, optional ½ tbsp Gujarati Daal Masala 2 cups diced sweet potatoes, par boiled until fork tender ½ cup water, or as needed 1 tsp lemon juice ¼ cup chopped cilantro, optional Salt, to taste Method Warm the oil in a saucepan. Add the pearl onions and cook until the onion edges are caramelized. Add the ginger-garlic paste, curry leaves, and dried chilies if using. When this is fragrant, dust in the Gujarati Daal Masala, and stir. Quickly add in the diced sweet potatoes. Add a quarter cup of water to help form a light sauce, stir carefully. Add the lemon juice, cilantro and salt. Cook uncovered until the water is absorbed. Serve with warm carbs of choice (naan, paratha, or rice).

Chai Masala

The most obvious thing to make with Chai Masala is chai. The recipe in the link below includes a basic trio of spices. Eliminate those in favor of a PINCH of the chai masala that was included in your advent. Each pinch is good for one cup. It does not include sugar or tea leaves. The recipe in the link below makes 6-8 cups, adjust down as needed. Enjoy!

Nihari Masala is unique to the regions around Lucknow, and is typically used to add depth and flavors to a slow cooked meat stew. This is a vegetarian application of the spice blend to a daal dish and gives it a flavor forward twist. Makes: 2-4 ½-cup servings Prep Time: 25 minutes Cook Time:

Nihari Masala

Bihari Masala is unique to Bihar - and can be a strong blend of spices that are best balanced with hearty ingredients like minced meat or chickpeas to create a beautiful marriage of flavors. I find this best for a minced lamb meat burger patty, but one could easily adapt it to soaked chickpeas converted into a smooth paste/meal to shape the bulk of the patty. Makes: 3-5, 2” diskettes Prep Time: varies / Cook Time: 15 minutes Ingredients 1 cup minced lamb or 1 can chickpeas ½ tsp cumin seeds ½ red onion, very finely chopped, about ½ cup, optional 1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste ½ tbsp Bihari masala 1 small Idaho potato, boiled and mashed, optional 1 tsp lemon juice 5-7 fresh mint leaves, finely chopped Salt, to taste Oil, for shallow frying To serve: 1 cup unflavored Greek Yogurt, whisked. Smoked salt, optional Persian cucumbers, finely diced Fresh mint Pre-prep Whisk the Greek yogurt with soaked salt flakes, Persian cucumbers and fresh mint. Set aside until ready to use. If using chickpeas, rinse them until the water runs clear. Remove as much of the skin as possible. Grind to a smooth paste. Set aside in a medium-sized bowl. Method Mix all the remaining ingredients, except the oil for shallow frying and combine well until all the spices are evenly distributed. Add the potato if the mixture has too much water and does not bind into a patty shape. Warm up a large shallow saucepan with 4 tablespoons of oil. Using a cookie scoop, drop a single dollop of the batter into the hot oil and slowly spread it out into a large diskette using the back of the scoop. To ensure even cooking, each diskette should be about ½” thick. Lay out as many batter diskettes as one can fit into the pan without overcrowding it. Using a spatula carefully flip each diskette when the underside is golden brown. Repeat until both sides are evenly cooked to desired doneness. Drain on a paper towel and serve while warm with a dollop of the yogurt, or as part of a burger.

Bihari Masala
Anglo Indian Masala

This blend of spices is unique to the Anglo Indian community. Use it to make this easy, fragrant and flavorful Shrimp pulao. You’ll be licking your fingers long after. For a vegetarian version, use rehydrated morel mushrooms, or fresh crimini mushrooms. Makes: 2-3 servings Time: 30 mins Ingredients 1 ½ cup Basmati rice, rinsed and soaking in equal parts water 12-15 large shrimp (cleaned and deveined) ½ tbsp Anglo Indian Masala ½ tbsp ginger garlic paste 2 tbsp ghee 1 tsp black cumin seeds, optional 1 medium red onion, slivered ½ tbsp ginger garlic paste 2 cups boiling water ½ cup cherry tomatoes Salt, to taste Cilantro, optional Method Marinate the shrimp with the Anglo Indian masala and ginger-garlic paste, and set aside until ready to cook. Warm the ghee in a large lidded saucepan (non-stick). Add the black cumin seeds if using, and red onions, saute until fragrant. Add the remaining ginger-garlic paste, saute again until fragrant. Drain the rice and carefully add it into the pan, sauteing in long strokes to keep the grains from breaking. Once the rice appears to be coated in the ghee, slowly add the marinated shrimp and stir again. Carefully add the boiling water into the pan and stir once more to ensure the rice does not settle and stick to the bottom. Cook uncovered for 5 minutes until the water has reduced to the same level as the rice. Reduce the heat to low, drop the cherry tomatoes into the rice, salt to taste and cover the pan. Cook until the rice is done. Garnish with cilantro if using and serve hot.

This is a robust blend of spices from the western coastal region - and includes dried coconut and a dried lichen - to amplify the flavors of the preparation. It is used in a range of dishes - in meat-based stews as well as in lentil preparations, like this one. Makes:3-4 servings Time: 30 mins plus prep. Ingredients 1 cup mung beans, soaked overnight, and pressure cooked until tender 1 tbsp oil ¼ cup chopped red onions 1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste ½ tbsp Goda masala ¼ tsp chili powder, optional ¼ tsp turmeric, optional ½ cup or more water, as desired 1 tomato, diced fine ¼ cup chopped cilantro Salt, to taste Method In a deep saucepan, warm the oil. Add the onions and saute until soft and translucent. Add the ginger garlic paste and saute until fragrant. Add all the powdered spices and saute for 10 seconds, then add a splash of water to cool it down. Add the cooked mung beans, and more water to make a stew. Bring this to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, simmer, add the tomato, cilantro and salt and cook covered for 10 minutes. Finish cooking uncovered until the sauce thickens. Serve over rice or alongside roti.

Goda Masala
Pondicherry Garam Masala

A quick and easy way to use this blend from southern coastal India is with plantains or potatoes. Makes: 2 servings Time: 10 mins plus prep time Ingredients 2 plantains, see prep note 1 tbsp oil 1 tsp black mustard seeds ½ white onion, chopped 1 jalapeno, sliced, optional ½ tsp ginger paste 1 sprig curry leaves ½ tbsp Pondicherry garam masala Juice of 1 lime Salt, to taste Cilantro, to garnish 1-2 tbsp fresh grated coconut, optional Method Cut the plantains, skin on, into 3 pieces. Steam it over boiling water for 10 minutes. Cool and peel the skin away. Once cooled, cut the plantain into ½” pieces. Set aside. In a shallow saucepan, warm the oil until hot but not smoking. Add the mustard seeds and let them pop. Add the onions, jalapenos if using, ginger paste and curry leaves and saute until fragrant. Reduce the heat. Dust in the Pondicherry Garam Masala, stir and add the prepared plantains. Stir well to coat the pieces. Add in the juice of a lime, salt, and coconut, mix in, and cover to infuse the flavors well. Cook on low heat until the plantain is tender. Garnish with coconut if using, serve hot alongside rice, and perhaps a sambar or daal preparation.

A soola is a phonetic phrase for a clay based wood firing stove. This recipe is best for a barbeque dish but if not, bake it. Use it with paneer for a vegetarian version. Makes: 2-3 servings Prep Time: 30 minutes plus 3+ hours marinating Cook Time 30-45 mins based on the oven INGREDIENTS Marinade: ¼ cup unflavored Greek yogurt 1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste ½ tbsp Rajasthani Soola Masala Smoked salt, to taste 3-4 chicken drumsticks or ½ lb chicken breast meat, skinned and scored Nonstick spray for the ovenproof dish Butter or oil for basting PRE-PREP Mix all the ingredients of the marinade. Reserve a third of the marinade in a separate bowl for basting. Skin the chicken drumsticks and thighs. If you prefer to leave the skin on the chicken, score the skin deep enough to make an incision in the flesh so that the marinade seeps in. Transfer the chicken into a zip-top bag, taking care to eliminate any juices of the chicken. Pour the marinade in; ensure all the pieces are coated. Set aside for 3+ hours in the refrigerator. METHOD Preheat the oven to 350°F. Prepare two ovenproof dishes by spraying them with nonstick spray. One by one, add the chicken pieces and alternate with pineapple slices, ensuring that the marinade has enough space to spread. Bake for 35-40 minutes at 350°F. Baste the meat regularly in the first 20 minutes with the remaining marinade to avoid drying. In the last 15 minutes, baste once or twice with butter. Serve hot.

Rajasthani Soola Masala

A quick and easy way to use this spice is with meat chops. This spice also contains sesame seeds - in case you wondered why it was nutty and addictive! Makes: 2-4 servings Time: 10 minutes, plus marination Ingredients 1 ½ lb lamb chops 1 tsp oil 1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste ½ tbsp Vidarbha Kala Masala Salt, to taste Juice of 1 lemon Cilantro, to garnish, optional Method Marinate the lamb in all the spices, except the lemon juice and cilantro. Be sure to coat all the flesh in the masala. Set aside for 30 minutes or more. Prepare a stovetop grill, or set the oven to broil mode. Cook the lamb chops to desired doneness. Drizzle with lemon juice and garnish with cilantro just before serving. Serve hot.

Vidarbha Kala Masala
Gothsu Masala

Mukhwas is an after-meal mouth freshener, and typically is consumed as a stand alone condiment. The dessert applications can be endless. This simple recipe adapts it for an unusual crumbly coconut topped dessert. Makes: 4 servings Time: 10 minutes Ingredients 1 tbsp ghee ½ cup fresh or frozen coconut, grated 1 tsp fine semolina (cream of wheat), optional 1 tsp rose water, optional 2-3 tbps finely diced dates 2-3 tbsp granulated sugar, optional ½ tbsp mukhwas To serve: Vanilla ice cream Method In a shallow saucepan, warm the ghee until it is melted, on very low heat. Add the coconut and carefully toast it until fragrant and lightly golden, for 2 minutes. Add the semolina and continue toasting. Remove this from the heat. While it is still warm, sprinkle in the rose water and dates and stir well. Set aside to cool. When it is completely cooled, add the granulated sugar if using, and the mukhwas. Stir well until completely combined. Scoop desired ice cream serving in a bowl, dust with the coconut and date sand. Enjoy immediately.

This earthy blend from southern India makes any vegetable come alive. Use frozen okra for convenience, or fresh okra if you have the time. Makes: 2 servings Cook Time: 20 minutes, easy Ingredients 1 tbsp. oil ½ tsp. mustard seeds ¼ cup of finely diced red or white onions 1 tsp. ginger-garlic paste 2-3 sprigs of curry leaves, optional ½ tbsp Gothsu masala 1 ½ cup fresh or frozen okra ½ tsp salt (or to taste) 1 tsp. lemon juice 1/2 tsp. sugar ¼ cup cilantro leaves for garnish (optional) Method Heat the oil in a large wok. As it warms up, add the mustard seeds and allow them to pop. Add the onions and sauté until lightly golden. Then add the ginger-garlic paste and curry leaves, and sauté until fragrant. Add the Gothsu masala, give it a quick stir. Add the okra and mix well until the spices are evenly distributed over the vegetables. Lightly cover the okra, leaving room for the steam to escape. Allow this to cook on low for about 8-10 minutes. Stir every few minutes to ensure even cooking. Check midway to see how well the okra is cooking. Once cooked the okra will change color from bright green to an ochre-brown, without being burnt. Season it with salt and add the lemon juice and sugar. Stir once more and cook uncovered for abo


The word ‘dum’ suggests a dish that is cooked in a low and slow method, like a Dutch oven. On its own, it has no heat but needs the slow cooking to allow the flavors to shine. Use this spice with baby potatoes for a classic Dum Aloo, perfect dish on a winter’s night. Makes 2-3 servings Time: 20 minutes plus prep time Ingredients 1 ½ cup parboiled diced potatoes or 2 cups baby potatoes, skin on, par boiled 1 tbsp ghee 1 tsp black cumin seeds ¼ cup diced yellow or white onions 1 tsp ginger garlic paste 1 tsp red chili powder ½ cup crushed tomatoes ½ cup water ½ tbsp dum masala Salt, to taste Cilantro, to garnish, optional 3-4 tbsp Greek yogurt, whisked Method In a deep saucepan, melt the ghee. Add the potatoes and sear the edges in ghee until the surfaces take on a light golden color. Remove the potatoes and continue with the recipe in the same pan with whatever ghee remains in it. In the warm pan dust in the cumin seeds and yellow onions. Cook until the onions are translucent. Add the ginger garlic paste, and saute until fragrant. Add the red chili powder, saute for 30 seconds. Add the crushed tomatoes and water and bring this to a boil. When it is bubbling, slowly return the fried potatoes into the sauce and dust in the Dum masala. Add salt to taste and cover to finish cooking. When the sauce is reduced to the desired consistency, garnish with cilantro. Add a few dollops of the whisked yogurt just before serving. Enjoy with warm naan or over rice.

A chaat masala is typically dusted over fresh fruits or used to make chutneys and sauces for Bhel and Pani puri etc. This particular blend uses flavors unique to the Konkan region, and has an extra bite. A simple way to use this, is to dust it over fresh pineapple chunks - for a quick no-cook recipe. Makes: 2 servings Time: >5 minutes Ingredients 2 cups fresh pineapple chunks 2 tbsp chopped fresh mint, optional ½ tbsp Konkani Chaat Masala Method In a large bowl combine the pineapple chunks with the mint and set aside until ready to use, preferably chill the mix before serving. Just before serving, dust in the Konkani Chaat Masala and toss well. Serve immediately.

Konkani Chaat Masala
Dum Masala
Gothsu Masala
Kashmiri Garam Masala

This delicate blend of spices is popular in Kashmir. Typically favored for preparations like meat based stews and biryani, this recipe uses another special, regionally preferred ingredient, lotus root. Pick some from your local Asian market for a delicious side dish. Makes: 2-4 servings Time: 15 minutes Ingredients 2-3 shallots, peeled and quartered 2 cloves of garlic 1 tsp Lucknow fennel 1 tbsp oil ½ tbsp Kashmiri Garam Masala ½ cup whisked Greek yogurt 1 cup sliced lotus root, par-boiled Salt, to taste Method Using a mortar and pestle, crush the shallots and garlic into a coarse paste. Separately, coarsely crush the fennel seeds and set aside. Warm the oil in a shallow saucepan. Add the crushed shallots and garlic paste and saute until fragrant, 20 seconds. Reduce the heat to low. Dust in the Kashmiri Garam Masala and whisked yogurt and stir well until combined. Add in the par boiled lotus root into the sauce and stir gently until the lotus root is covered in the sauce. Add salt. Dust in the coarsely crushed fennel powder. Cover and cook on low for 3-5 minutes until the lotus root is tender. Serve immediately with naan.


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Nandita Godbole
Once: botanist & landscape architect.
Now: personal chef, author, an artist, graphic designer, blogger, poet & potter!
Always: dreamer.

Loves fresh brewed chai, the crisp salty ocean breeze, watching monsoon rains & walking barefoot through cold mountain streams. 
Believes in the strength, positivity of the human spirit. Is spiritual but not a fanatic. 
Mom of one. Two, if she counts her husband.

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