4 Dry-Roasted And Hand-Pounded Masalas Your Kitchen Must Include
Image Credit: Mixed spices, Image Credit: Pexels

There was a time when most Indian kitchens used to have their hand-pounded spices (masalas). As the food scene evolved, the entry of ready-to-use powdered masalas brought a revolution in cooking. They speeded up the process of preparing dishes using grounded spices. However, over time, the quality of commercial pre-packed spice powders started to fall. It might not hold true for all the brands. However, many women are still shifting to using homemade pounded powder in cooking these days. Often, the whole spices are dry roasted before grounded into a coarse powder. From my personal experience, I have curated a list of four such must-have roasted and hand-pounded masalas that would enhance the taste of the dishes. 

Ideally, whole spices must be dry roasted in a pan or kadhai and then pounded manually in a mortar and pestle. This process improves the flavour and essence of the spices. 

Whole & pounded spices, Image Credit: Pexels

Jeera powder

For this, take around 50 grams of whole white cumin seeds and dry roast on simmer till they start turning slightly brown. Ensure they aren't burnt. Turn off the flame and allow the cumin seeds to cool down a bit. Using a mortar and pestle, pound into a semi-coarse powder. Use it for curries, salads, stuffings for paratha or seasoning for dishes like chats and dahi bhallas.

Red dry chillies

Dry red chillies, Image Credit: Pexels

This whole spice can make any food aromatic when used in roasted and then powdered form. Pick the best quality dry red chillies. There shouldn't be any spots or stains. Remove the stems. Now on a low flame, dry roast the chillies in a pan. It will take around 4-5 minutes. Once they are roasted evenly and get a crispy form, turn off the flame. Let them cool down, and then pound them into a powder. For a smoother finish, you can use an electric grinder. 

Coriander powder

This one isn't used for seasoning chats, salads or snacks, unlike the cumin powder. But instead of regular coriander powder, the dry roasted one has an intense flavour. It adds a distinct aroma to the dishes. To make it take the whole coriander seeds and dry roast them for 3-4 minutes on low flame. The coriander seeds must turn slight brown. Turn off the gas, allow them to cool off, and hand-pound them using a mortar and pestle. 

Garam masala

Whole spices for garam masala, Image Credit: Unsplash

This one lets you pick and choose the whole spices. Ideally, it should have green cardamom, cinnamon, and cloves. These three are good to go. Dry roast the spices individually; you can keep the husk of the cardamom as is. Now let them come to room temperature. Instead of an electric blender, use the traditional mortar and pestle to coarsely pound them. This spice blend is ideal for many culinary fares, from pulaos, curries, a few variants of desserts and even for making herbal tea. 

There are several reasons to dry roast whole spices and seeds. They get crisper and lose extra moisture, making them easier to grind. Second, the fragrance is enhanced. Taste raw coriander seed versus roasted one, and you'll notice a substantial change. Lemony and flowery describe the first. The second variant has an intense, grassy, and earthy aroma. You are using the same product in two distinct ways, giving you a new flavour.