Everyday Indian Basic Masala

For a working woman it is often difficult to cook everyday meal. I have been facing different challenges everyday. To make things simpler one has to think smarter. Although, you wish to cook everything from scratch all the time, the time does not give you the luxury to. What do you do in such cases? Do half your preparations in your free time to avoid hassle later.

Masala is an integral part of any Indian savoury dish. It is a very generic term ; a mixture of various dry and wet spices. You blend various combinations of it to create different flavours. Following is a basic Masala that you can store in a jar and mix it with any vegetable and some meats. The paste stays fresh for up to 5 days refrigerated and 2 months in the freezer without losing any flavour. This will cut the cooking time by half!! 

If I have tempted you enough to try this Masala recipe let us see what is required and how it is prepared.

Ingredients: Makes 1 cup of Masala

  • 4 tbsp mustard/olive/canola oil (any oil of your choice)
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onions
  • 3/4 tsp cumin seeds
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced (Add more garlic in case you need that strong flavour of garlic)
  • 2 tbsp minced fresh ginger
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped tomatoes
  • 4 tsp coriander powder
  • 2 tsp red chili powder (If you like your curry hotter add more chilli powder as per your taste)
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp amchoor – dry mango powder  (optional)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Keep a cup of water handy. Might need only in case where the masala is getting stuck to the sauce pan


  • In a heavy bottomed pan, add the oil and heat on high up till you see ripples on the surface.If using mustard oil, you will need to heat it till its smoking to do away the raw smell.
  • Reduce heat to medium. Add the finely chopped onion and cook them till golden brown. About 6-8 minutes.
  • Next, add the cumin seeds, minced garlic & ginger and cook for 1-2 minutes till you start smelling the aroma.
  • Reduce the heat to low and add the tomatoes next along with chilli, coriander, and turmeric powder. Cook this masala on low heat till the oil starts separating from the mix along the sides of the pan. About 10-12 minutes. If you see masala sticking to the bottom of pan, add some water. Cook thoroughly to reduce water. This slow cooking is very important to develop flavors and color of the paste, please do not rushAllow the masala to reduce till it acquires beautiful reddish to brown color.
  • Remove the pan from heat and mix in the salt, garam masala & amchoor.
  • Allow the Masala to cool and transfer to jars for storing. 

How to use:

Whenever you want to use this masala for making curry, add the desired quantity of water to it,check the seasoning & bring to a boil. Next add the meats or vegetables, boiled beans, lentils and cook covered or in pressure cooker till tender.

Note: I would suggest you make this masala fresh whenever you get time. It will give far better flavour.

Do let me have your thoughts on this. I would be grateful if you can suggest variations.

Happy Cooking and time saving!!