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What’s cooking today: Tandoori spice mix



What’s cooking today: Tandoori spice mix

The ingredients of a Tandoori spice mix, and the end result, in the bowl. (Photo: Tony Jackman)

Grinding your own spice mixes is a very pleasing thing. I’m on a bit of a grinding jag at the moment, so expect more recipes for spice mixes in the near future. In the meantime, stock up on lots of powdered and whole spices.

Tandoori masala flavours meats to be cooked in a tandoor, usually in a yoghurt marinade, while the more common garam masala is typically the core flavour base in curries cooked in the pot.

The observant eye will have spotted that the colour of my spice mix is wrong, or supposedly wrong. Tandoori masala should be red. But the red comes from food colouring and I do not have any, nor can I go out in search of some, thanks to a certain pandemic. But it does not affect the flavour in any way. If you happen to have red food colouring, just add a quarter teaspoon.

Another thing to note: I have not included garlic powder in the mix, because I prefer to add fresh garlic to the marinade. It’s a good idea to use both fresh ginger and garlic, so you could change the powdered ginger quantity here to 1 teaspoon, but only if you are adding fresh ginger to the marinade when you make it.

There are many variations on a tandoori masala. Here’s the mix I made this weekend… and in the coming days I will share two recipes I made with it.


2 Tbsp coriander seeds

1 Tbsp cumin seeds

1 Tbsp powdered ginger (or 1 tsp if also using fresh ginger)

1 Tbsp fenugreek

2 Tbsp red chilli flakes

Optional: 2 tsp garlic powder IF not using fresh garlic

1 tsp nutmeg (grind this before mixing)

½ tsp mace (grind this before mixing)

1 tsp cloves (grind this before mixing)

1 tsp cinnamon (when ground)

1 tsp ground black pepper

1 tsp black mustard seeds

1 tsp cardamom seeds

½ tsp ground turmeric


Grind cinnamon, nutmeg, mace and cloves until very fine. Toast other hard spices and seeds (including cumin, black mustard, fenugreek, cardamom seeds [not their husks], chilli flakes, coriander) in a dry pan till the pan starts to smoke. Allow to cool. Grind cooled spices to a fine powder. Add spices that were pre-ground (including nutmeg, mace, cloves and cinnamon, and red food colouring if using), and spices that were already in powdered form, and grind everything together. Store in a tightly closed container. DM/TGIFood

Our Thank God It’s Food newsletter is sent to subscribers every Friday at 6pm, and published on the TGIFood platform on Daily Maverick. It’s all about great reads on the themes of food and life. Subscribe here.

Send your recipes to [email protected] with a hi-resolution horizontal (landscape) photo.


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