Exploring The 10 Spices That Go Into The Making Of Chaat Masala

A popular spice blend in Indian cooking is called chat masala. A variety of spices, including cumin, coriander, dried mango powder, black salt, and chilli powder, are usually included. This aromatic and tangy masala gives a flavour boost to a variety of dishes, particularly snacks like salads, fruits, and chaats. It is a popular choice to enhance the overall taste profile of Indian foods, especially those with a savoury and tangy flavour profile, because of its distinctive spice blend, which imparts a zesty and refreshing taste.

This is one spice blend that can be sprinkled on kebabs, beverages like orange juice, etc., sliced vegetables, fried snacks like dals, pakoras and bhajjis, apart from the usual chaats, raitas, and more.

Here is the list of spices that are used to prepare the chaat masala:

Video credit: YouTube/ Hebbars Kitchen

1. Cumin seeds (jeera): 

Cumin seeds, in Hindi, are called jeera and are used to add a particular taste and strong aroma to the chaat masala preparation. The seeds have an earthy, nutty, and citrusy aroma. Cumin will give the spice its nutty and pungent flavour when it is toasted and then ground, releasing its aromatic oils. Masala is thus enriched and deepened by cumin. 

2. Coriander seeds (dhania): 

Dhania, another name for coriander seeds, is an essential component of the flavour of chaat masala. They give the spice mixture a warm, zesty, slightly earthy flavour. The aromatic oils released by pulverised and toasted coriander seeds improve the flavour of chaat masala as a whole. Fresh, herbaceous, and subtly sweet, the flavour balances the tang of other components like black salt and dried mango powder.

3. Dry mango powder (amchur): 

Dry mango powder or amchur, is another compound of chaat masala that adds that savoury-tangy taste for which this masala is famous. Along with that, it mellows the harshness of spices such as cumin and coriander, which can otherwise come off as too spicy. Besides adding a touch of lemony-fruity taste, it has a beautiful aroma, which makes it a very interesting ingredient for spicing up many Indian snacks, salads and street foods.

4. Black salt (kala namak): 

Kala namak, another name for black salt, is an essential component that gives chaat masala its characteristic flavour. It is pinkish-grey in colour and smells strongly of sulphur, despite its name. It gives chaat masala a tangy, somewhat smokey, and slightly umami flavour. This salt is well known for its capacity to improve the flavour of food in general, especially Indian food, where it adds a rich, nuanced depth that melds wonderfully with the spices in chaat masala.

5. Black pepper powder: 

An essential component that gives chaat masala its unique flavour is black pepper powder. It enhances the overall depth and complexity of the masala by adding a strong, pungent, and somewhat spicy taste. The tartness of other ingredients, such as dried mango powder and lemony components, is complemented by the peppery undertones of black pepper. 

6. Pomegranate seeds powder (anardana): 

The second most appreciated ingredient in chaat masala's recipe is the anardana, which also happens to be pomegranate seeds powder and gives a unique sour taste. This spice mixture brings out a marvellous and lips-puckering sweet-tartness that balances well with other hot spices in the back, like chilli powder and cumin. It goes well with a lot of Bengali street snacks and other street snacks. The raw anardana is also used as a topping in different snack dishes like papri chaat, samosa chaat, etc.

7. Red chilli powder: 

Red chilli powder gives the spice mixture in chaat masala its unique fiery and spicy flavour, making it a necessary addition. In order to counterbalance the other spices like cumin, coriander, and amchur (dried mango powder), the chilli powder adds heat and depth to the masala. It gives food a strong, spicy bite that improves the flavour profile overall. This blend of spices produces a rich and complex seasoning that is commonly used in Indian cooking to improve the flavour and appeal of street meals, snacks, and salads.

8. Asafoetida (hing): 

Hing, or asafoetida, is a crucial component in the preparation of chaat masala and greatly enhances its distinct flavour. When uncooked, this spice smells strongly of sulphur; nevertheless, when cooked or combined with other ingredients, it gives the masala a robust, savoury, and umami-rich flavour. With a distinct earthy and tangy note that balances the other spices in the blend, asafoetida gives chaat masala more depth and complexity and improves its overall taste, making for a flavorful and appealing condiment.

9. Ajwain (carom seeds): 

The flavour profile of chaat masala is significantly influenced by ajwain, referred to as carom seeds. Its unique and powerful flavour infuses the spice blend with earthiness, warmth, and a hint of bitterness. Ajwain gives chaat masala additional depth and complexity, which improves the flavour profile overall. Chaat masala is an indispensable component in Indian cooking, particularly in chaats, munchies, and salads, where it adds a burst of flavour and scent. It also adds a distinct tanginess and a faint trace of spice.

10. Dry ginger powder (saunth): 

Saunth, another name for dry ginger powder, is a crucial component of chaat masala and gives the spice mixture a unique flavour. It gives chaat masala a warm, slightly spicy flavour with hints of sweetness. Saunth's flavour balances and harmonises with other components' tangy flavours, such as amchur (dried mango powder) and black salt, to produce a savoury, tangy, and subtly sweet combination. Because of its distinct flavour and aromatic qualities, saunth plays a significant role in boosting the flavour of chaat masala.