Your local desi grocery store probably has an abundance of spice mixes with two or three brands competing for shelf space. And though it’s comforting to know spices mixes can easily be attained with a variety of choices and brands at our fingertips, I am a firm believer that when made fresh at home, quality eclipses convenience.

This is not to say that grocery store spice mixes are unusable or unpalatable. However, spice mixes are so easy to make—and aside from saving money, they impart a more aromatic nuance to dishes that really make the difference in the overall taste of a dish.

I buy my spices in small batches, and make spice mixes in small batches, too, to ensure freshness. Whether storing whole or ground spices, remember to keep them in airtight containers away from intense heat or direct light.

Here are a few commonly used spice mixes that you can easily make and store at home.

Panch Phuron

Combine equal parts cumin seeds, fennel seeds, mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds, and nigella. Store in an airtight container.

Chaat Masala

makes about 1 cup

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup whole red chillies
  • 1/4 cup coriander seeds
  • 1/4 cup cumin seeds
  • 1/4 cup dried mango powder
  • 3/4 tablespoons black peppercorns
  • 3/4 tablespoons black salt

Directions

Heat a small, heavy pan or tava over medium heat. Roast chilies, cumin seeds, and coriander seeds until aromatic (about 1 to 2 minutes). Remove from heat and cool completely.

Transfer to spice grinder along with mango powder, black peppercorns, and black salt. Blend to a smooth powder and store in an airtight container.

Garam Masala

makes about 3/4 cups

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup cumin seeds
  • 1/3 cup coriander seeds
  • 1 tablespoon green cardamom pods
  • 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
  • 2 teaspoons whole cloves
  • 1 dried red chile
  • A 1-inch piece cinnamon stick, broken into pieces
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg1/8 teaspoon ground mace

Directions

Heat a small, heavy pan or tava over medium heat. Roast cumin seeds, coriander seeds, cardamom pods, whole peppercorns, cloves, chile, cinnamon, and bay leaves for about 2 minutes, or in until the cumin browns and becomes fragrant. Cool completely.

Transfer to a spice grinder, add the nutmeg and mace, and grind to a smooth powder. Store in an airtight container.

Tandoori Spice Mix

makes approximately 1 cup

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup mild long red Kashmiri chillies
  • ¼ cup whole coriander seeds
  • 2 tablespoons whole cumin seeds
  • ½ tablespoon whole black peppercorns
  • ½ tablespoon cardamom pods
  • ½ tablespoon whole cloves
  • 1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
  • 3 two-inch cinnamon sticks
  • 2 black cardamom
  • 3 tablespoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon ginger powder
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric powder

Directions

Heat a small, heavy pan or tava over medium heat. Roast chillies, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, black peppercorns, cardamom pods, cloves, fenugreek seeds, cinnamon, and black cardamom for 1 minute, stirring continuously so spices won’t burn.Transfer to bowl and cool completely.

Add to blender, along with paprika, garlic powder, ginger powder, and turmeric powder. Blend to make a smooth powder and transfer to an airtight container.

This post was originally published on our sister site India.com and has been republished here with permission. 

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