7 Unique South Indian Spice Mixes That Every Home Cook Needs
Image Credit: These spice mixes will help you nail South Indian regional dishes. Image courtesy: Pexels

From idli, sambhar, dosa, utthapam and appam to a wide variety of curries, what people still often club together as South Indian food is actually a collection of a variety of cuisines. Broadly, these can be divided into cuisines from five states—Karnataka, Telengana, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Kerala. A much closer look reveals that even amidst these states, the cuisine changes in every district—much like it does throughout the rest of India.  

Given this, if you love food from India’s Southern states and want to cook some up at home, you should have the basics clear. Spice blends are a good place to start. After all, Indian cuisines, no matter which part of the country they might be from, depend largely on the right blend of local spices. North Indian food won’t taste the same if not for the right proportion of whole spices in Garam Masala. Awadhi or Lucknowi food depends largely on the addition of special spices to this basic Garam Masala. Bengali cuisine is all about getting your Panch Phoran right, and so on. 

So, to make outstanding South Indian food at home, you need to have the right spice mixes and blends. Here are some that are easy to store for long periods of time at home. 


Also known as Milagai Podi and, more fondly, Gunpowder, Malgapodi is a unique spice blend that is usually served on top or on the side of meals. If you have tasted Thatte or Podi Idlis, then you should know that it’s the Malgapodi powder that gives these dishes that signature colour and taste. Prepared with the perfect balance of urad dal, chana dal, red chillies and curry leaves, this spice blend from Andhra is serfved with ghee or sesame oil. 

 ASIN ID - B0994FLM1P   

Sambhar Masala 

Sambhar is the basic mix-vegetable dal served alongside most South Indian dishes, whether it’s paneerayams, appams, dosa or even plain rice. In fact, Sambhar is the dish that makes a meal complete. However, making Sambhar at home isn’t just about getting all sorts of seasonal veggies, but also about the unique spice blend of red chilli, coriander seeds, mustard, cumin, black pepper, fenugreek seeds, urad dal, asafoetida, etc. Getting the proportion right is tricky, which is why it’s best to buy Sambhar Masala. 

 ASIN ID - B06Y13KSMZ   

Rasam Masala 

Rasam is the soup that makes a traditional South Indian meal stand out. With equal notes of sweet, sour and spicy, this one is very difficult to nail at home without the right blend of spices in the right proportion. Also known as Udupi Saaru Podi, Rasam Masala is made with coconut oil, coriander seeds, fenugreek seeds, cumin seeds, curry leaves, dried red chillies, asafoetida and turmeric. Adding this powder to boiled toor dal, tamarind juice and jaggery makes for the perfect Rasam. 

 ASIN ID - B0716FD22P   

Gassi Masala 

Originating in Mangalore, Gassi or Korri Gasssi Masala is a spicy and heady mix that is used to cook not only chicken curry, but also curries with vegetables and meat. While most South Indian spices blends consist of some fixtures like curry leaves, asafoetida and red chillies, Gassi Masala is unique because it includes coconut and cashews for that rich and intense flavour. If you haven’t tried this one yet, you must! 


Chettinad Masala 

Chettinad Masala was created by the Chettiar community from the Sivagangai district of Tamil Nadu. The community traded in salt and spices, and used some of the best to create the rich flavours of Chettinad Masala. Coriander seeds, carom seeds, red chillies, cardamoms, star anise, cloves, fennel seeds, fenugreek seeds, mace and poppy seeds go into the making of Chettinad Masala, but getting the proportion right is the key here. 

 ASIN ID - B0BNX31P9F   

Ghee Roast Masala 

Invented by the wife of a popular restaurant owner in near Mangalore, Ghee Roast is a dish belonging to the Tuluva community. Intensely hot and spicy, with notes of sourness, Ghee Roast Masala is most often used to make chicken, mutton and fish dishes that are dry and stir fried. You could also use the spice blend to make vegetarian dishes. The masala contains lots of Byadagi red chillies, along with coriander seeds, black peppercorns, cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds, garlic cloves and tamarind. 


Kerala Garam Masala 

Kerala is known as the ‘land of spices’, so, naturally, the state has its own unique spice blend that can give even Shahi Garam Masala a run for its money. Also known as Kerala Curry Masala, this one is a staple of Keralan food—so keeping a good stock of this mix can help you cook up Keralan dishes in a hurry. From fennel seeds, cloves, black peppercorns and cardamoms to cinnamon, star anise and nutmeg, this spice blend is rich and exotic. 

 ASIN ID - B089Z4Q796