WHAT IS CHAAT MASALA?
If you've been following Spicewalla for a while, you've probably heard mention of a mysterious blend called chaat masala. This do-it-all condiment is genuinely like no other. While its origin is disputed, some believe that chaat's beginnings started in the state of Uttar Pradesh, in India. Supposedly, the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan fell ill and was instructed to consume only lighter foods. The cooks in his royal kitchen invented chaat, a variety of food made up of small bites, and chaat masala as a seasoning. Translated literally to "snack spice," this powdered mixture is used traditionally in Indian cuisine; sprinkled on street food, mixed into drinks, and added to curries. It is not our intention, however, to limit this delicious spice blend, oh no, chaat masala deserves its cult-condiment-moment in the spotlight like its harissa, sriracha, chile crisp, and everything bagel seasoning contemporaries.
Made with amchoor (dry mango powder), black salt, cumin, coriander, black pepper, ginger, mint, ajwain, and hing aka asafoetida (basically an Indian MSG), chaat masala has a lot of different flavors going on. The first thing you'll notice is its potent sulfuric scent; this is due to the black salt, which has an odor that many would describe as "funky." Once you move past its initial funk, you're in for a salty, tart, spicy, tangy, and umami-esque experience that picks up different flavors depending on what it's garnishing. Chaat masala is delicious on sweet and savory alike, adding a zip and a kick to avocado toast, a boring sandwich, anything with potato, anything fried, soups, salads, pizza, pineapple, melon, popsicles, and lemonade... I could go on.
Ask anyone who has spent time in India or with authentic Indian food, and they will probably tell you about their chaat masala addiction. We hate to be enablers but we guarantee you'll get hooked on the stuff. It's a flavor that once you've tried you won't soon forget.