How to Cook with Indian Spices: Magic Masala Spice Mix

Make this Magic Masala Spice Mix ahead of time and break it out whenever you want a quick, Indian-inspired meal.

Is Masala Spice Mix the same as Curry?

Many people confuse the fragrant spice mixes of India, called Masalas, with the word "curry". This is because sometime in the late 1700s, a spice mix called "curry powder" was created in England as part of their take-aways from the colonization of India. This was a mass produced spice mix meant to mimic the flavors of India, but which had a more mellow and sweet flavor profile to appeal to the British people. This became so popular that "curry" is now a strong part of British food culture (although very different from the delicately balanced and fragrant flavors it originated from).

However, curry is not the same as masala. Curry is a dish, usually stewed, that is made up of vegetables or [traditionally] meats and is flavored with spices. Whereas masalas are the Indian spices used to make a curry. Curry powder came to the United States in the 1800s and its popularity increased because of the need for only one spice instead of many to make a dish. However, in the 1970's, Madhur Jaffrey made the brilliant remark "To me the word 'curry' is as degrading to India's cuisine as 'chop suey' is to China's". In other words, "don't water down my culture". There are a million different masalas and each one can be customized to a dish. I have found that this wet masala paste that I make here is a good starting point for beginners wanting to learn the nuances of Indian spices.

The Shopping List

This recipe is very fast, as long as you are prepared. Make sure you have all the ingredients on hand. Here's a quick shopping list to help you get ahead. I suggest an Indian market for the spices, if available. I am including links here for those that need to order online.

  • Fresh Turmeric (you can use Turmeric Paste or Dried Turmeric if you can not find fresh)
  • Fresh Ginger
  • Garlic Cloves
  • Ground Coriander
  • Ground Cumin
  • Black Mustard Seed (do not use yellow mustard seed, they are not the same)
  • Reshampatti or Kashmiri Chili (you can use Red Pepper Flake if you can not find)
  • Black Salt (this is optional, but truly helps to make this masala authentic)
  • Vegetable Oil (I use this to help preserve and keep this mix last longer)

Make this Ahead of Time and Keep in the Fridge

What's so fantastic about this recipe is that you can make it in bulk ahead of time and it will keep in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks. It is the perfect meal-plan condiment because it can be used for a number of mid-week recipes for easy dinners or lunches:


magic masala spice mix

Magic Masala Spice Mix

Make this Magic Masala Spice Mix ahead of time and break it out whenever you want a quick, Indian-inspired meal.
5 from 3 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Course Recipes- Condiments
Cuisine Indian
Servings 1 ½ cups


  • 2- inches fresh turmeric ok to use turmeric paste or dried turmeric if you can't find
  • 4- inches fresh ginger
  • 8 cloves garlic
  • ½ cup vegetable oil for the paste
  • 2 Tbl ground coriander
  • 3 Tbl ground cumin
  • 2 Tbl black mustard seed do not substitute yellow
  • 1 teaspoon reshampatti or kashmiri chili powder
  • 2 teaspoon black salt optional, but highly recommended
  • ½ cup vegetable oil for preserving


  • Slice the turmeric and ginger.  You do not need to peel and the size of the slices doesn't matter- you are only making it smaller to puree.  Place in a bowl.
  • Peel the garlic and then rough slice.  Add to the bowl with the turmeric and ginger and bring to the food processor.
  • Place the turmeric, ginger, and garlic into the food processor with the first ½ cup of vegetable oil.
  • Puree until it is a smooth paste and then return the paste to the bowl.
  • Add in the coriander, cumin, black mustard seed, reshampatti, and black salt.  Stir well to combine.
  • Lastly, add in the second ½ cup of vegetable oil and mix very well.  This extra oil will ensure no air hits the fresh ingredients, making it last longer.
  • Place in an air tight container (I suggest a mason jar) and store in the refrigerator until ready to use.



The color of the masala paste will change as the turmeric and spices sit.  This mixture will keep for about 2 weeks.
Keyword Indian Food, Masala, Masala Spice Mix, Spices, vegan recipes
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  1. Lori Theriault says

    5 stars
    So happy to have a jar of this in the fridge! It was wonderful in the Indian Style Rice, and I've used it since in another instant pot stew of lentils, kale and other veggies. Looking forward to using it on all sorts of things, and can't wait to get through more recipes on this site!

    • Kajsa@TwistofVegan says

      Thanks Lori, did you download the guide to Indian spices? It should have popped up for you with this recipe

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