5 spice mixes from India

by Sanjeev Kapoor

Masalas! Oh the beauty of the aroma and flavour of freshly ground spices is literally the essence of good Indian food. A gently sprinkling of the right spice mix can make or break so many dishes. Here are 5 such fragrant and fabulous masala mixes from India - the land of spices.

Garam Masala – Garam Masala is the king of Indian spice mixes and finds its way in recipes across the country. Every household has its own blend with slight variation to the proportions of the basic masalas - star anise, black cardamoms, black peppercorns, cinnamon, cloves, green cardamoms, mace, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, nutmeg and salt. Lightly roasting the spices and grinding them with a mortar and pestle is the traditional and best way to do it!

Ver - A doughnut-shaped, thin hard dried cake of ground spices with a strong and pungent aroma, ver is what adds character to a lot of Kashmiri dishes. Garlic, pran (a Kashmiri onion) and a bunch of aromatic spices like dried ginger, turmeric, asafetida, red chillies are ground, shaped in a patty and dried on wonder planks under a shade over long periods of time, carefully watched over an duly flipped for it to mature evenly. Small amounts of this fragrant spice mix are broken off as needed, crumbled and then sprinkled over many foods to give them that classic Kashmiri flavour.

Panch Phoron - The essence of Bengali cooking is delicately balanced between the main ingredients and its seasoning. The phoron or flavouring added at the end is to give an unforgettable taste to food. Seasoning is done with a spice mixture of five components unique to Bengal namely aniseed, mustard, fenugreek seed, cumin seed and black cumin seed. The concoction of these five spices is called panch phoron.


Molaga Podi - More popularly known as gunpowder because of how spicy and fatakedar it is, you can use molagapodi in a number of ways. A dry powder made with dal, sesame seeds and an aromatic spices, you will find it everywhere in South India. Eat with idlis or dosas or as an accompaniment with Sambhar rice and you know what these taste great when sprinkled as seasoning over crunchy french fries!

Chaat Masala –Chaat masala lives upto its finger licking name. It is a perfect blend of teekha, meetha, khatta and namkeen and takes Indian food to another level. Sprinkle it over anything from chaats and dahi wadas, kababs and bhajias, fresh cut fruits, blanched sprouts and even lemon juice or soda. Also this fuss free snack of a homemade butter and roti roll with a generous sprinkling of chaat masala is perfect for untimely hunger pangs.

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MasterChef Sanjeev Kapoor

Chef Sanjeev Kapoor is the most celebrated face of Indian cuisine. He is Chef extraordinaire, runs a successful TV Channel FoodFood, hosted Khana Khazana cookery show on television for more than 17 years, author of 150+ best selling cookbooks, restaurateur and winner of several culinary awards. He is living his dream of making Indian cuisine the number one in the world and empowering women through power of cooking to become self sufficient. His recipe portal www.sanjeevkapoor.com is a complete cookery manual with a compendium of more than 10,000 tried & tested recipes, videos, articles, tips & trivia and a wealth of information on the art and craft of cooking in both English and Hindi.