Expertly made masala is a staple of Indian cuisine. With an appetizing smell and taste, masala is a way to add flavor to your meal routine.
But what is masala anyway, and are there different kinds of masala? Today we’re diving into all things masala, and in particular, masala with chickpeas.
Facts about masala
Masala is a mixture of spices that are combined into a dry or paste form. Masala blends are used to add flavor to Indian foods and beverages, and there’s a wide variety of masalas out there. Let’s dive in!
History of cooking masala
While many kinds of Indian food are spicy, masala is considered more 'warm' than 'hot.' That’s because masala blends are not spicy.
The most popular masala blend, garam masala, is thought to have originated in Northern India and some historians have traced its first use to the Mongol Empire in the 13th century. There are many variations of garam masala, and each region in India has its own version which accompanies the cuisine and spices grown in that specific climate.
1 tablespoon of garam masala is 30 calories; 1 gram of fat, 15 mg sodium, and 7 grams of carbohydrates, 4 grams of those coming from fiber!
There are many health benefits associated with masala, too! Masala aids in digestion, supplies the body with valuable antioxidants, and reduces overall inflammation. It also lowers the risk of cancer, fights oral bacteria, and enhances nutrient absorption. Not to mention that masala is great for regulating blood pressure and improving heart health! A truly beneficial little spice.
Different types of masala
Fortunately for home chefs and fans of Indian cuisine, there are many variations of masala to keep recipes feeling new and fresh! Change up your beloved masala by trying one of the masala variations below.
As mentioned a bit earlier, garam masala is considered the most popular kind of masala. Garam masala is thought to be useful for increasing “digestive fire” — which makes it easier for the body to process food. The most common combination of garam masala spices is black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, cumin, and nutmeg.
These spices each bring their own unique set of health benefits to the table. Cumin has been shown to boost the activity of digestive enzymes. Meanwhile, out of all these spices, cinnamon is highest in antioxidants. Cardamom has been shown to lessen inflammation in the body.
The biggest difference between tandoori masala and garam masala is that dishes seasoned with tandoori masala are meant to be cooked in a tandoori oven, which is a clay oven. Tandoori masala is an Indian spice blend that often consists of cumin, coriander, and turmeric. This blend provides a lovely, fragrant scent to dishes and a mildly spicy flavor.
It’s easy to make tandoori masala ahead of time and store it in an airtight container for up to two months! Tandoori spice mixes are used to marinate foods before cooking, and the seasoning blend is often combined with yogurt to create a thick coating perfect for rotisserie chicken, paneer, shrimp, and more!
Popular masala recipes and side dishes
The great thing about masala is that there are so many different recipes that go with it! Here are a few of our favorite go-to masala recipes … including masala with chickpeas!
Did you know that “chana” means chickpeas?
Chana masala, sometimes called “chole masala,” is believed to have originated in northern India. Masala with chickpeas is a popular dish throughout India and Pakistan, and masala with chickpea recipes varying by region. This dish has also gained popularity around the world.
A popular version (such as the recipe linked above) is made with green chilies, onion, garlic, fresh cilantro, a blend of spices, chickpeas, and tomatoes. It can be prepared a number of different ways, but the simplest method uses 1 pot and about 30 minutes of prep time.
Looking for a one pot, low fuss recipe? Chicken tikka masala could be just the ticket! This recipe can be made with ingredients you probably already have in your kitchen, like turmeric, garlic, and vegetable oil.
Traditional Chicken Tikka Masala is made with yogurt marinated chicken, then skewered and chargrilled for incredible bbq flavors. For the sake of making this recipe easier to make at home, it uses a skillet or pot to cook it in while still keeping amazing flavors.
Well there you have it! Masala is so good for you and versatile … the perfect way to add heat and flavor to just about any dish!An excellent side for masala-based dishes is Proper Good Basmati Rice. With 7 grams of protein to keep you feeling full, our Basmati Rice is ready to mix-and-match with any Indian dish! It’s also plant-based, dairy-free, and ready in the microwave in just 60 seconds … easy peasy! And, this side dish consists of just 4 whole ingredients.