The one ingredient that most Indian snacks, street foods, roasted and fried food and salads rely on for their instant zing and spicy sparkle is Chaat Masala. This spice mix is a blend of spicy, salty and tart flavours and is usually added to the food after cooking and right before serving. It is one of the secret weapons of your local Indian restaurant.
Usually a good sprinkling of a tablespoonful (or more, experiment with it) over the prepared dish and a good stir through to combine is all that is needed. Chaat Masala adds an unbelievable edge to the flavour. Some of the ingredients are a little esoteric, like the ground black salt, but are well worth tracking down online if you cannot find them in your nearest international food store.
RECIPE – makes a small jarful
3 teaspoons toasted cumin seeds, ground
1 teaspoon toasted coriander seed, ground
1⁄2 teaspoon toasted fennel seeds, ground
4 teaspoons amchoor powder (powdered dried mango)
3 teaspoons ground black salt (or ordinary salt if you really can’t get it)
1⁄2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 pinch asafoetida powder
1 teaspoon garam masala
1⁄2 teaspoon ground ginger
1⁄2 teaspoon Carom seeds
1⁄4 teaspoon ground dried mint
1⁄4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1⁄4 teaspoon paprika
First, dry-toast the cumin, coriander, fennel and carom seeds in a heavy bottomed pan for a minute or so until they give off a delicious aroma, allow to cool then grind well using a mortar and pestle or a coffee grinder reserved just for grinding spices.
Combine all ingredients, and store in an airtight container in a cool dark place.
Simple as that!