Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

masala means spice mixture in India. The word masala comes from the Arabic word which originally meant ‘interests’, hence ‘necessities’, hence ‘seasonings’.

The blending of spices is the essence of Indian cookery and there are many different types and combinations of spices which suit particular dishes, regional specialities, and taste preferences. Masala can be ground or whole spices; mild or strong; bland or sharp; ‘dry’ or ‘wet’. Every different version imparts its own distinctive flavour. The combination selected depends on what kind of dish is being prepared, e.g. whether it requires a strong ‘hot’ flavour or a subtle, aromatic flavour.