Best Chaat Masala Substitutes

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One of the best parts of Indian cuisine is all of the spices that are used. There are complex flavors in seemingly every dish, making every bite something interesting, and just a bit different than the last it seems. Chaat masala is no different. However, you may not be able to find chaat masala where you’re at. If that’s the case, you’ll likely be looking for substitutes. In this article we’re going to cover all of the suitable replacements you can find for chaat masala!

What is Chaat Masala?

Chaat masala, sometimes spelled chat masala, is a spice blend that comes from South Asian cuisine, specifically South India. Many people liken it to garam masala, but for dishes with more fruit. It is complex, and is made up of many different spices. The name translates to “tasty spice blend,” roughly. It can be found in many foods sold by street vendors in India.

What Spices Are Used in Chaat Masala?

Like any other spice blend you’ll find from India, the ingredients can vary from recipe to recipe. Overall, though, there are 5 ingredients that you’ll find in most versions of chaat masala:

  • Black salt
  • Dried mango powder
  • Dried pomegranate seeds
  • Red chili powder
  • Toasted cumin seeds

Depending on the ratio used for the chaat masala you’re eating, the flavor can change. This makes it highly useful in many different recipes.

What Does Chaat Masala Taste Like?

Chaat masala has a number of different flavors, all wrapped up in one spice blend. This makes it similar to other Indian spice blends. It’s complex, and it makes dishes that may otherwise have a single note more interesting. Chaat masala can be tangy and tart, depending on the amount of mango or pomegranate used. It can also be hot if a large amount of pepper is used in the recipe. This makes chaat masala very versatile.

What Dishes Use Chaat Masala?

This spice blend is most commonly used in any dish with the word “chaat” in the name. Most of these are going to be snacks or street food. However, chaat masala has more uses than that! Chaat masala applied to fruit dishes or salads can result in zesty dishes that have a bit of tang to them. It’s very good for enhancing the flavors of any dish that may seem bland otherwise.

How is Chaat Masala Used?

Traditionally, chaat masala is not used during the cooking process whatsoever. The spice blend is applied to dishes after they’re cooked. That, or it is applied to raw dishes, like vegetables and fruit. Chaat masala should not be added to dishes during cooking – it changes the flavor palette too much.

Chaat Masala Substitutes

There’s a chance that you may not have chaat masala on hand, or that you can’t find it at a local market. If that’s the case, don’t fret! There are some appropriate substitutes that you can use in place of chaat masala. Check them out below!

Dried Mango Powder

One of the key ingredients of chaat masala is also one of the best substitutes for it. Many people look for the tart, tangy flavor that you get from chaat masala when making food with it. If you want that, then you can use friend mango powder on its own.

Dried mango powder should not be used as liberally as chaat masala would be. It’s only tangy, providing none of the other complex flavors that chaat masala comes with. Use it to taste. Remember, adding too much can’t be reversed. Using too little means you can add more later on, if you’d like.

Black Salt and Lemon Juice

This isn’t the best substitute, by any means, but it is a good one. This provides the unique, sulfurous taste that the black salt carries with it, and the zing of lemon juice. The result is a zesty flavor that resembles that of chaat masala. It’s a nice addition to dishes in a pinch. However, dried mango powder is the best option in these cases.

Homemade Chaat Masala

Because chaat masala is made with such few ingredients, it can easily be made at home. If you’ve got a diverse spice rack, or a good grocer, you should be able to make chaat masala fairly easily. When making chaat masala, use the following ratio for your ingredients.

  • 4 parts dried mango powder
  • 4 parts cumin seeds
  • 2 parts dried pomegranate seeds
  • 1 part black salt
  • 1 part red chili powder
  • 1 part lack peppercorns
  • ½ part sugar

Toast the cumin seeds lightly to release their flavor. Then, add the other ingredients to a spice grinder. When the cumin is toasted, add it to the griner as well. Grind until a fine powder. This is the best alternative to buying chaat masala, and it can be made easily at home!

Frequently Asked Questions About Chaat Masala

What can chaat masala be used on?

Just about anything! It’s a delicious spice blend that gives food a tart flavor, thanks to the fried mango. This makes it a great option for someone looking for a little zing in place of salt. Try it on salads, in salad dressings, and even on top of french fries. You might find a new flavor that you love more than you’d expect.

Can I use garam masala instead of chaat masala?

This really depends on the flavor palette that you’re looking to accomplish. Garam masala translates directly to “warming spices.” This is because it’s meant to warm the body when used. If you’re looking for something like this, then yes, you can use garam masala. However, if you like the tart, almost sour taste that comes with chaat masala, garam masala might not be the most appropriate substitute.
Most websites have a firm stance on the use of garam masala in place of chaat masala. They’re either all for it, or they’re entirely against it. We think that you’re more than capable of making the call, just know what flavor you want and make the best decision, of course.

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