Chaat Masala is an Indian spice blend that is sprinkled over all sorts of snacks and Indian street food, from fruit salad and fruit juices to various curries, yogourt and pakoras. Chaat is Hindi for “to lick” and Masala just means spice. The flavours in the spice blend are both tangy and spicy.
Many of the ingredients are difficult to find (though it is becoming easier and easier every day) in Canada. You will probably have to visit a South Asian specialty store to get hold of ajwain, amchor and black rock salt but it will be well worth the visit, I promise! Other ingredients like coriander seed, cumin seed, garam masala and of course. ground black pepper are common in spice sections of supermarkets throughout the country. And, of course, nowadays, almost everything is available with the click of a mouse.
The three harder to source ingredients – ajwain, amchor and black rock are unknown to many here. Ajwain is also known as bishop’s weed or carom and is a member of the caraway family. It has both a unique and strong flavour and an equally unique and pungent aroma. It is known as a hot spice in India, meaning it produces heat in the body rather than chili heat. Amchor is powdered dried mango. The ingredient is used in very small amounts to add a lot of tang to your dish. Finally black rock salt, also known as kala namak, is a salt mined in the Himalayas. It is full of a variety of minerals, including some sulphur which gives it its pungent aroma. If you are unfamiliar with this ingredient, you may associate its odour with rotting eggs but I promise that it is far more tasty than it’s aroma would suggest.
This recipe makes quite a bit of chaat masala. You could halve it if you choose or even bring it down to a third if it is the first time you are trying the spice blend.
1 cup coriander seed
1 1/4 cups cumin seed
1/2 cup ajwain
1/2 cup amchor powder
3 teaspoons garam masala
1 1/4 cup black rock salt
4 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 cup dried mint
Place all of the ground spices (amchor powder, garam masala, black rock salt and black pepper) into a large jar. Shake to distribute the spices evenly. With the remaining spices, in small batches if necessary, grind the spices in a spice grinder, burr mill or with a mortar and pestle to a fine powder. Add the fresh ground spices to the jar and shake again to distribute evenly. Store in a dark, dry place.
TIPS: Use a glass or stainless steel jar to store this spice blend. Plastic will absorb the flavours and aromas of the spice blend over time, becoming unusable for other purposes.
How long a spice blend will last depends on the quality of the spices that you used in the blend and how it is stored. Spices stored out of the way of light will last longer. Ensure that your jar is airtight and store the jar in a cupboard away from sources of moisture.
As with all spice blends, you can customize this to suit your palate by adding a little more of an ingredient or a little less. In the case of chaat masala, I don’t recommend leaving out any of the ingredients at this will significantly change the profile of the blend.
Peace and love,