Chaat Masala: Substitute, Uses, Flavor, And Ingredients

It’s simply delicious to have slices of pineapple with chaat masala sprinkled over them. Lime juice turns amazingly flavorful when a pinch of chaat masala is added to it. Same way, you can’t imagine eating a chaat (an Indian snack) without a chaat masala.

This article reveals to you the best chaat masala substitute, also a little about its flavor and uses.

What is Chaat Masala?

Chaat or chat masala is a mixture of mango powder and few spices, originating from the Indian subcontinent. This spice mix is popularly used as a flavoring ingredient in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh.

The Hindi word ‘masala’ means ‘a mixture of spice powder’ and ‘chaat’ means ‘to lick’. In India, the word ‘chaat’ is a name given to spicy and savory snacks that are lip-smacking.

Typical ingredients in chaat masala that distinguishes it from other masalas (seasoning blends) are asafoetida (hing), dried mango powder (amchoor), and black salt. Also, it includes other common ingredients like cumin, coriander, ginger, black pepper, and chili powder.

What does Chaat Masala taste like?

Chaat masala has a complex flavor and aroma because of the entirely different types of ingredients used in it. Its sulfurous taste and smell come from the black salt. Amchoor (Mango powder) in chaat masala is responsible for its tangy and sour taste. On the whole, this masala renders a complex mix of tangy, tart, salty, and spicy flavors rolled into one.

How to use chaat masala?

This isn’t a spice mix like garam masala or chili powder used in cooking. It is mostly used in chaats, a popular snack sold in the Indian streets. Chaat masala is sprinkled over Indian snacks like chana chaat, aloo chaat, Dahi puri, or bhel puri for adding a tangy flavor to them.

Often, fruit chaats and vegetable salads in India are garnished with chaat masala along with a squeeze of lemon.

The tartness of chat masala very well complements the sweetness of fruits. Thus, this spice mix is popularly added to fruit juice and drinks as a flavoring agent.  In fact, sprinkling a pinch of chaat masala into pineapple juice or lime juice makes them tasty and refreshing.

What is a good chaat masala substitute?

Chaat masala is exclusive to the Indian subcontinent and is used for flavoring a few varieties of snacks and fruits. The availability of this spice mixture is limited to Indian food stores.

If you don’t have chaat masala or are not available in your locality, then you may use a chaat masala substitute. Here are some of the alternatives worth considering:

1. Homemade Chaat Masala

Nothing to worry about if you have run out of pre-made/store-bought chaat masala. Homemade chaat masala is the best substitute for chat masala that you usually buy.

The core ingredients in chaat masala are mango powder and hing (asafoetida) and other ingredients are common kitchen staples easily available or can be substituted.

Chaat Masala Recipe:

Core Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup dry mango powder
  • ½ tsp hing (asafoetida)
  • ¼ cup cumin
  • 2 tbsp black pepper
  • 2 tbsp black salt (sanchal)
  • 1 tsp salt

Secondary ingredients:

  • 3 tbsp mint
  • 2 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 2 tbsp dry ginger
  • 1 dried red chili
  • ½ tsp clove
  • ½ nutmeg

Note that some of the secondary ingredients may be omitted according to your taste preferences.

The final procedures of making chaat masala involve the following steps:

Step 1: dry roast ground cumin and coriander seeds and transfer them into a bowl

Step 2: Dry roast ginger, black peppercorns, clove, nutmeg, and red chili till they turn aromatic; transfer them into a bowl after roasting

Step 3: Dry roast the mint leaves till they turn crispy

Step 4: Transfer all the roasted ingredients into a mixer jar, also add mango powder, hing powder, and salt to it. Blend them into a fine powder-like consistency. Sieve out the thicker grains or corns. Chaat masala is ready for use or stored in an airtight container.

2. Roasted garam masala and mango powder

Garam masala, another popular Indian spice blend, contains ingredients similar to chaat masala except for the key ingredient mango powder. Both these spice mixtures have cumin, coriander, and chili peppers. Pungent garam masala is not a perfect substitute for chaat masala, still a manageable option.

Preferably, roast the garam masala for a few minutes at low flames and then add dry mango powder (or lemon juice) and hing to it. This blend would mimic most flavor features of chaat masala. Use this mixture as a 1:1 replacement for chaat masala.

3. Harissa

Harissa, a North African spice blend, is similar to chaat masala as they have many ingredients in common. Just like chaat masala, harissa contains cumin, chili peppers, coriander, and mint.

Harissa is much spicier than chaat masala thus use it in fewer amounts while substituting. Adding a tablespoon of lemon juice to harissa can bring in the tangy flavor of chaat masala as well.

4. Curry Powder

Cumin, coriander, and chili pepper are the base ingredients in curry powder besides a few other spices. However, turmeric powder used in curry powder is a dominating flavor.  Still, using curry powder in small quantities to substitute chaat masala would work for some snacks and juices. To mimic the tanginess of chaat masala, you may use a tablespoon of lemon juice along with curry powder.

5. Lemon juice and spice mixture

When you don’t have any of the alternatives to the chaat masala listed above then use a customized blend of spices and lemon juice. For example, a combination of cumin, coriander, and red chili powder flavored with a tablespoon of lemon juice would somewhat taste like a chaat masala.

Similarly, you can also use substitutes for coriander, cumin, lemon juice, and others when you don’t have any of them. Also, try to use any of the hot chilies in place of chili pepper or black pepper if you don’t have them.

Final Thoughts

Chaat masala, a popular spice blend from the Indian subcontinent, is known for its complex, tangy, tart, salty, and spicy flavors.

Primarily used as a garnish rather than a cooking spice, chaat masala is sprinkled over Indian snacks, fruit chaats, and vegetable salads to add a distinct, flavorful twist.

Homemade chaat masala or substitutes like roasted garam masala with mango powder, harissa, curry powder, or a lemon juice and spice mixture can be used when chaat masala is unavailable.

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