Lucknowi Chaat Masala
Lucknowi Chaat Masala
About this Recipe
Spices and spice blends have always been cleverly used as medicine in Indian food. Chaat masala is no different. In essence, it is an aromatic digestive spice mix of warming (black pepper) and cooling (cumin and fennel) ingredients, meant to stoke the digestive fires and help digest snacks from cut fruit to fritters. Every region has its own version, with the quantities of key spices tweaked to suit local preferences. I love the Lucknowi version for its full-bodied texture and the medley of flavors — minty and fruity notes from fennel and amchur (dried mango powder), and the woody, earthy aromas of coriander. Sprinkle it on fruit salad, chutneys, shaved ice treats, pakodas, and fritters.
Chaat masala is a cornucopia of gut-friendly spices, which are rich in minerals and immunity-boosting antioxidants. According to studies, black pepper and coriander stimulate enzymes to aid digestion and nutrient absorption, helping with bloating and flatulence. With cumin in the mix, you also get a good dose of iron, and possible benefits for blood sugar levels. Amchur and asafetida — much-loved for their potential anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-aging benefits — are rich in heart-healthy magnesium and phenolic compounds.
Equipment: Spice grinder
Note: To make a bigger batch, increase the quantity of the ingredients proportionately, but be mindful about the quantity of chiles you use — adjust according to their fiery spice quotient.
Makes 100 g Makes
- 1½ Tbsp (6 g) cumin seeds
- 1 Tbsp (6 g) badi saunf (fennel seeds)
- 1 Tbsp (5 g) coriander seeds
- 10 to 15 black peppercorns
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 black cardamom
- 4 to 5 dry Kashmiri red chiles, or 1 to 2 tsp paprika powder
- 1 tsp amchur (dry mango powder)
- A pinch of asafetida
Step 1In a thick-bottomed pan, on low heat, toast the cumin seeds, fennel seeds, coriander seeds, and black peppercorns with ½ tsp of the salt (salt helps distribute the heat in the pan). Keep stirring; as soon as the coriander seeds begin to darken — in about 2 to 3 minutes — remove the spices from the pan.
Step 2In the same pan, on low heat, dry roast the black cardamom seeds and dry red chiles with the remaining ½ tsp of salt for 2 minutes, or until the spices are aromatic.
Step 3Give the ingredients a moment to cool, then grind all the toasted spices, along with amchur and asafetida, to a grainy powder. Store in an air-tight container for up to 3 months and sprinkle on snacks as needed.
Level Up: For a deliciously fragrant outcome, add a teaspoon of crushed dried mint leaves, or drop whole, dried rose petals into the spice jar.
Try It With: A bowl of plain yogurt or sprinkle over steamed dumplings.