This is the tandoori masala I use for a wide variety of purposes, including marinating, and making my famous butter chicken and butter paneer, my tandoori chicken and my tandoori prawns. I have trialled many different versions of this versatile spice mix, before finally being satisfied with this one. So, in that sense, it's very much adaptable to your own tastes. Mine is also not as spicy as some of the store bought ones, but still needs to be treated with a little spice caution.
There are probably three big differences between my version, and the ones you can get in stores. First, I don't add salt to the mix. You can add it, if you prefer, but I like to taste the marinades before using salt, so I can get a better sense of the spiciness.
Second, I don't use citric acid. I prefer adding fresh lime or lemon juice to my tandoori marinades anyway, so its moot here.
And finally, the third difference is that I don't use any artifical colouring. I don't see the need for my tandooris to be that bright, artificial red that you get in restaurants. The taste of the spice mix is almost exactly the same, and the dark red colour in mine comes from a liberal (and cheeky) use of mild, unsmoked paprika, that adds the beautiful colour but not the heat.
Simple, delicately spiced and versatile... the perfect pantry ingredient.
½ cup mild long red Kashmiri chillies
¼ cup whole coriander seeds
1 tbsp whole cumin seeds
½ tbsp whole black pepper
½ tbsp whole cloves
½ tbsp whole cardamom pods (add 1 pod of black cardamom, if you wish)
1 tsp whole fenugreek seeds
3, 2 inch sticks of cinnamon or cassia bark
1 tsp dried ground ginger
1 tsp dried ground garlic
½ tsp grated nutmeg
½ tsp ground turmeric
3 - 4 tbsp paprika (or enough to achieve your desired colour)
Toss together the first eight ingredients, one by one, in a hot, heavy pan, for between 30 seconds - 1 minute, until each of the spices smell heavenly. Remove to a bowl and let cool completely.
Transfer to a powerful blender, and add the remaining ground spices.
Blend to a smooth powder. Transfer to a clean, fairly airtight spice jar, and store in a cool dark place.
This recipe makes around 1 cup of tandoori masala