Buknu Masala: Know Everything About This Spice Blend From UP
Image Credit: Khaochatpata

Given the diversity in regional cuisines across India, each region has its own unique spice blend, exclusive to the geography and the culture. Whether it is the metkoot from Maharashtra or the East Indian bottle masala, spice blends have been known to give regional cuisine its distinctive identity and flavour. These blends also cater to the taste palates of those who function within the community and the food that they cook often, which merits the usage of these mixes.

The way a South Indian garam masala differs from a Punjabi garam masala, spice blends – although using more or less the same ingredients, vary in ratios, giving them a flavour that is completely different than any other. One of these spice blends – known as buknu masala – or commonly referred to as jeeravan – is said to a condiment of ancient times. Likely to have originated in Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh, the spice blend is known to have medicinal values.

Made with digestive ingredients like cumin seeds, asafoetida, amchoor powder, black cardamom, turmeric and pink salt, it is one of the rare spice blends that is used as both – a spice powder and condiment. Often sprinkled on chaat dishes like dahi bade, papdi chaat and aaloo tikki, the buknu masala is what gives Banarasi chaat its distinct depth. Known to be a cure for stomach ailments like bloating and indigestion, this spice blend has anti-inflammatory properties, along with providing relief from respiratory infections.

Also used as a popular condiment in Indore, regional kitchens often sprinkle it over rotis and parathas that are served with meals. Spices that are incorporated into the masala are first toasted in mustard oil, before being cooled and ground to a fine powder. This medicinal condiment also contains other ingredients like dry ginger, marod phali and dried gooseberries. Find a recipe to make your own batch of buknu masala at home, to sprinkle over savoury dishes or enjoy as a condiment with dal-chawal.

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  • 1 cup amchoor powder
  • ¾ cup pink salt
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric powder
  • 1 black cardamom
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 2 teaspoons black cumin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon mustard oil
  • ¼ teaspoon asafoetida


  • Heat the mustard oil in a pan until it reaches smoking point and turn off the stove.
  • Add both types of cumin seeds and the black cardamom and allow it to get toasty brown in colour. Cool completely before transferring to a blender jar, along with the remaining ingredients.
  • Grind into a fine powder and sieve it into an air-tight container. Refrigerate and store for up to three months.