Easy 5-Ingredient Chaat Masala Recipe
Love Chaat Masala but want a fresher, healthier alternative to store-bought? This easy recipe has been years in the making and tastes just like store-bought (if not better)! The best part? You only need 5 ingredients to make it!
This isn’t so much a requested recipe as it is a personal endeavor. Each year before Ramadan, I gather my spices and test and tweak until I get one step closer to the distinct taste of finger-licking good Chaat Masala. This year, I finally perfected the ratios to make it taste just like store-bought, but with fresher, brighter flavors. Bonus: no additives, preservatives, or excess sodium!
What is Chaat Masala?
Chaat Masala is a spice powder made with ingredients like dried mango powder, dried pomegranate seeds, and black salt. It’s the essential ingredient in Pakistani and Indian street food such as chana chaat, fruit chaat, papri chaat, and yes, anything else with the word ‘chaat‘. Not only is it perfect for snacky street food, but it can be used to elevate anything with a kick of sour, tangy flavor. (Examples: Raita, Chana Masala, and even Biryani.)
…and what does it taste like?
Chaat Masala has a very distinct and easily recognizable taste. I’d describe it as a complex blend of tart, spicy, salty, tangy, and sour with a hint of sweetness.
The 5 Essential Ingredients
Wait, why are there 7 ingredients? That’s because two of them are optional – sugar and black peppercorns. You likely have both, but if you don’t want to use them, feel free to omit.
I’ve looked at many chaat masala recipes and boxed mixes. While the formulas vary, the similarities in almost every recipe are these 5 essential ingredients (pictured from top to bottom):
- Black salt (kala namak) – Usually pink in color, black salt is a sulfurous salt derived from Himalayan salt mines. If you can’t find it, substitute pink salt or sea salt.
- Dry mango powder (amchur) – A key ingredient. As the name suggests, it’s made from dried, unripe mangoes and gives the signature tartness.
- Dried pomegranate seeds (anardana) – For best results, I suggest using seeds instead of powder. The seeds are likely to be fresher and contribute better flavor.
- (Optional) Black peppercorns – I almost made black peppercorns an essential ingredient, but red chili powder (an essential) gives a stronger ‘ka-pow’ taste, and I wanted to keep the ingredients to a minimum.
- (Optional) Sugar – I found sugar to be a good balancing agent, especially if black peppercorns are also used. Shan’s chaat masala (the brand I used to compare mine) also includes it.
- Red chili powder – Red chili powder adds the essential spice/heat element, which balances out the tart flavors.
- Toasted cumin seeds (zeera) – Toasting cumin seeds is essential to get the distinct flavor.
How to make Chaat Masala in 3 Simple Steps
- Step 1: First, toast the cumin seeds. They’ll turn deeper in color and become highly aromatic. Allow them to cool while you add the rest of the spices to your spice grinder.
- Step 2: Meanwhile, add the remaining ingredients to the spice grinder. Once cooled, transfer the cumin seeds to the spice grinder.
- Step 3: Grind into a fine powder, shaking the spice grinder as needed to evenly distribute the powder. Store in an airtight spice jar for up 8 weeks.
What is the difference between Chaat Masala and Garam Masala?
Chaat Masala and Garam Masala are both South Asian spice blends but have two completely different flavor profiles. A comparison in Mexican cuisine can be taco seasoning versus tajin seasoning.
Garam Masala typically includes spices that aren’t the focal points of Chaat Masala, such as cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, and coriander seeds. Similarly, black salt, dried mango powder, and dried pomegranate seeds are not usually found in Garam masala.
What can I substitute for Chaat Masala?
If a recipe calls for chaat masala and you don’t have any on hand, try adding dry mango powder, dried pomegranate powder, or black salt if you have them. Depending on the recipe, you can probably get away with using garam masala in place of it (Example: Aloo ki Tikki). I’d also increase any sour, tangy ingredient in the recipe such as lemon juice.
How to store
Store the powder in a small, airtight spice jar or container. It’ll last for 6-8 weeks before it starts losing freshness. Since we aren’t using any anti-caking agents, it tends to get a little clumpy. Simply shake or break up any clumps as needed.
How to use Chaat Masala
Apart from using it in street foods like dahi baray, chaat, etc., here are several everyday uses for Chaat Masala:
- Sprinkled on top of French fries
- Rubbed on corn on the cob with a bit of lime
- As a seasoning for roasting vegetables
- Sprinkled on top of fruit
- Salad dressings
Need more ideas?
Here are some more recipes that use Chaat Masala:
- Aloo ki Tikki (Potato Cutlets)
- Haleem (Beef and Lentil Stew)
- Cucumber Raita
- Shami Kabab
- Chana Masala (Chickpea Curry)
If you get a chance to try this recipe, I’d love to hear from you! Simply leave a comment below and share your thoughts. If you’re on Instagram, please tag me so I can see your creations. Thank you!
5-Ingredient Chaat Masala
- 2 tbsp (15 g) cumin seeds (zeera)
- 2 tbsp (15 g) dried green mango powder (amchoor)
- 1 tbsp (8 g) dried pomegranate seeds (anardana), or sub powder
- 1 tsp (5 g) black salt powder (kala namak), or sub pink salt or sea salt
- 1/4 tsp red chili powder, or more to taste
- 1/4 tsp black peppercorns, optional
- 1/4-1/2 tsp cane sugar, optional
- Spice Grinder
- Heat a small skillet over medium heat. Add the cumin seeds and toast, stirring and shaking the skillet often, for 2-3 minutes. The cumin seeds will deepen in color and become highly aromatic. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
- Meanwhile, add the remaining ingredients to the spice grinder. Once cooled, transfer the cumin seeds to a spice grinder.
- Grind into a fine powder, shaking the spice grinder as needed to evenly distribute the powder. Store in an airtight spice jar for 6-8 weeks.