A masala is a blend of spices – it may contain two or three, or a dozen or more. It may be added to the dish, whole or ground, at different stages of cooking.
The flavours can be mild and fragrant or more highly spiced, depending on the dish in which the masala is to be used. The spices for the masalas are usually dry-fried before grinding, which greatly enhances their flavour.
Tandoori masala: This spice mixture is specifically for use with a tandoor (clay oven) in traditional north Indian or Afghani cooking, but it can also be used for food cooked in the oven or on a barbeque.
The exact spices used vary from one region to another, but typically include fenugreek, cinnamon, cumin, coriander, cloves, mace, tumeric, ginger, cayenne pepper, and paprika. Red food colouring is sometimes added to this spice mixture. It is common to mix this masala with plain yoghurt and then coat the meat (usually chicken) with this mixture before cooking.
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