Chaat Masala

Chaat Masala in a bowl

The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 5 mins
Total: 20 mins
Servings: 16 to 24 servings
Yield: 1 cup

Zingy, tangy, and slightly hot, chaat masala is an Indian spice mix that adds a boost of flavor to a variety of dishes. The powdery spice gets its distinctive flavor from black salt. Sometimes used as a spice in cooking, chaat masala is most often sprinkled as a garnish on salads, chaats (savory Indian-style snacks), drinks like Indian-style lemonade, and meals like curries and dals.

This is a basic recipe, but once you've made it a few times and become familiar with the ingredients and how they taste, you can experiment with the spices, increasing some and decreasing others to make your own custom blend. ​Some of the spices go by different names in Hindi and English, and either may be used on the packaging; to help you when shopping, both common names are included in the ingredient list. This recipe for chaat masala makes just under 1 cup, so multiply the ingredients if you need more.

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons cumin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fennel seeds (saunf)
  • 1/4 cup dried mango powder (amchur powder)
  • 3 tablespoons black salt powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ginger powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ajwain seeds (carom seeds)
  • 1 teaspoon dried mint powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon asafetida powder (hing)

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Chaat masala ingredients

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  2. Heat a flat griddle over medium heat. Once hot, add the cumin, coriander, and fennel seeds.

    Cumin, coriander, and fennel seeds on a grill

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  3. Dry roast the seeds until they begin to turn a little darker and give off their aromas. Stir often while roasting to prevent the seeds from burning.

    Dry roasting seeds on a grill

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  4. Remove the seeds from the griddle and spread on a plate to cool.

    Dry roasted seeds on a platter

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  5. Mix the dry roasted seeds with dried mango powder, black salt, black pepper, ginger, ajwain seeds, dried mint, and asafetida powder in a clean, dry, spice grinder, coffee grinder, or food processor and grind until a fine, smooth powder forms.

    Seeds in a food processor

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  6. Transfer to a glass container with a tight seal and store in a cool, dark place. Use in your favorite recipes and enjoy.

    Chaat masala in a jar

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

How to Store

  • Homemade chaat masala should be used within two to three months of making it, as the ingredients will lose their potency if kept too long. Place in a glass container and store in a cool, dry place.
  • Do not store chaat masala with other spices as the ingredients (especially the black salt) are highly aromatic, and the other spices will take on the aromas.

How to Use Chaat Masala

  • Sprinkle chaat masala on almost any green salad for an added kick.
  • Add a pinch of chaat masala to lemonade and stir it in to give it an instant lift.
  • Indian vegetarian dishes taste particularly good with a small garnish of chaat masala. After the dish is cooked and you have turned off the heat, sprinkle a few pinches of chaat masala over the top of the dish and cover immediately. Let sit for 2 to 3 minutes and serve.

Is Chaat Masala the Same as Garam Masala?

While chaat masala and garam masala are both popular Indian spice blends, they have different flavor profiles and are used very differently. Garam masala is a popular Indian spice mixture that combines cardamom, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, clove, turmeric, and other spices for an aromatic, savory blend. It's used in curries and other hot dishes. Chaat masala contains some of the same spices as well as dried mango powder and black salt (and others), and is sprinkled on finished dishes and used top chaat (savory snacks).

What Can Be Used Instead of Chaat Masala?

Chaat masala has a distinctive flavor that is hard to replicate since it is a blend of several spices. While there aren't any perfect substitutes, the best option is to use as many of the spices present in chaat masala as you can in the correct proportion. If you don't have dried mango powder, try adding a little lemon or lime juice.