Tuesday, 24 May 2011

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. 

(Printable Recipe)

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


  1. great and natural spice mix love my mum in laws as wel

  2. love it! I should try your version of tandoori mix next time! bookmarked!

  3. Thanks for this. I always wonder about that really bright red colour. I'm going to give it a try. Looking forward to your butter chicken recipe. And the paneer!

  4. And bookmarked here too! I so much agree with you about not using artificial colouring; and unsmoked paprika is one of the two ground spices I buy in quantity (the other being cumin). Thanks Michelle

  5. I was searching for a tried and tested tandoori masala recipe..Thanks to you I have something to go ahead.
    How to make dried ground ginger and dried ground garlic.I have stopped at this point coz i dunno where to get hold of it.

  6. Veda, where are you based? If you are in the West, pretty much all major supermarkets carry dried garlic powder and ground ginger.

    You can leave out the ginger and garlic from this recipe, and add fresh garlic + ginger to your tandoori marinade when you make it. This will add the extra taste element to it.

    Hope this helps, and thank you for coming by and visiting my site.

  7. i am a big fan of rajah tandoori spice because of the flavor...does yours taste like theirs? i dont mind not having the color...but i am looking for their flavor..thanx

    1. Hi Nitu, I've never used Rajah so I can't comment. My favourite shop bought mix is Eastern Tandaoori Masala, and mine tastes a lot like that one.

  8. Hi Michelle, I tried this tandoori masala recipe and it turned out great. The whole family loved it. I had been looking for a good homemade recipe for tandoori chicken and this will be our family recipe from now onwards. I am very particular about avoiding artificial foods and flavors and this delicious all-natural recipe works so well for me. Thank you so much for sharing. Raheela.

    1. Thanks Raheela, your comment is much appreciated :)

  9. Hi Michelle
    Is paprika and Kashmiri chillies not the same thing?


    1. Hi Jen, no. Kashmiri chillies are deep red, almost purple, and have a milder, more fragrant flavour than regular long red chillies. If you use regular long chillies, reduce the amount down as they are way hotter.

      Paprika is made with dried red sweet peppers, and the spicier versions with spicy red peppers. My usual paprika is the very deeply coloured sweet Hungarian paprika. If I am making Spanish food, I sometimes use the hotter versions, or the smoked versions. Do not substitute smoked or hot paprika here, just the sweet, unsmoked version.

      Hope this helps, cheers!!

  10. Hello,
    I have most all of these ingredients but not in a seed form. My spices are all ground in spice bottles. Does this make a difference in the taste?

    1. Hi Gary, yes, usually a spice mix made from toasted whole spices is usually much more fragrant. However, you can easily make one up using ground spices. It won't be as intense, but will still be pretty good, especially if you have freshly bought ground spices.

    2. Use 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom.

  11. Thanks for your recipe. You can buy citric acid in the grocery store as "sour salt". Same thing. I use it for stuffed cabbage since my great grandmother's recipe called for it.

  12. Thank you for your recipe. You can get citric acid in the grocery store as "sour salt". I use it for stuffed cabbage since my great grandma's recipe called for it.

  13. Hi Michelle! I stumbled across this recipe through a Google search and I am so happy to have found this blog. I made this tandoori masala recipe tonight and will be eating the chicken tomorrow. I love how you write and learned a lot about the beautiful culture. Thanks for your hard work and the great recipes!

  14. Thank you so much for sharing your recipe. I am constantly on the lookout for good spice recipes. I have worked with many many great Indian cooks in Silicon Valley and while all were happy to share spices and food, not one would give up the recipe. I cannot wait to eat this!

  15. Thank you so much , I've been looking for this recipe. The ready masala has way too much sodium, worst thing for high blood pressure!

  16. I made this masala and used it last night - was a big hit with all my guests. I'd love a lot more heat as this was very mild, suprising as there were so many chillis in it! I'll add some chilli powder next time :)

  17. Very nice, balanced masala. Thanks :)


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